After a Sunday spent clearing up autumn leaves, dog walking and playing football in the garden with the kids, I walk to the bathroom to get ready for work today doing a fine impression of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. The first challenge of the day will be putting on my shoes to get to the office.
The early morning sales meeting tells me Christmas is approaching. Buyer registration is down and there are fewer viewings but, interestingly, the ratio between viewings and offers is much higher — proof that those in the market are intent on buying.
The highlight of today is a valuation in one of the most prestigious roads in Gerrards Cross.
With my shoes freshly polished, I head off to a magnificent Georgian-style house set over four floors. The client takes delight in asking me to take a seat in the media room so that I can experience the quality of the sound system. I am thinking all I need now is the popcorn and I am set up for the afternoon.
The room is very atmospheric, with the most comfortable theatre seats and specially designed walls for soundproofing. As the opening scene to Gladiator starts to play and the magnificent sound kicks in, I come to appreciate the whole set-up. I also reflect on how insignificant my television is at home. Now I know what I want for Christmas.
I am viewing a new development of five luxury apartments today. I enter the show home and one push of a button turns the place alive, with mood lighting and music springing into action.
After a 20-minute wait — and just as I am settling in to watch Homes Under the Hammer — both of my viewers pitch up at the same time. Juggling my attention between the two, I leave one of the couples busily taking in the lounge while I lead the other to the study. It’s all going swimmingly until little Johnny decides to use one of the loos that isn’t yet connected. “No problem,” I assure his mum and dad, “I’ll sort it.” Inwardly, I am groaning.
The afternoon definitely improves as I am invited by one of my clients, who has become a friend, to the Hunger Games premiere in Leicester Square. The walk up the red carpet rubbing shoulders with the cast is an incredible experience, even though nobody asks for my autograph.
The morning starts with a site meeting at a development of townhouses due to be launching in the new year.
Having had a late night, I completely forget to pack my wellies and jacket. The rain is absolutely tipping down and the site can only be described as a mudbath. I tiptoe to the safety of the entrance, but the developer has other plans. “To appreciate the property fully, Simon, you need to see the other floors,” he says.
Looking around, I can’t see the staircase, only a ladder casually tied to some scaffolding taking you up three floors. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I mutter under my breath as a burly builder holds my hand while I negotiate the rungs — an image that will stay with me for years to come.
I am invited to value a house this morning for a couple sadly separating. As we sit down to discuss the price, you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. A valuation of this kind is never a nice experience, but is now a huge part of our business. Trying to smooth the atmosphere is exhausting.
Emotionally drained, I leave for the next valuation. This has been booked by a solicitor dealing with the beneficiary of a relative or friend who has passed away. I tend to wince when people say estate agents act on the “three Ds” — debt, death and divorce — but today seems to prove the point.
The business day concludes with a text from my wife to say she has booked tickets for the new James Bond film. I wonder whether this will be a good opportunity to let her know about my plans to convert our lounge into a surround-sound media room…
- Simon Roberts is a partner at Strutt & Parker in Gerrards Cross (01753 891188).