Diary of an estate agent: Hyde Park

Total makeover leads to a sleek lateral flat that’s the cat’s whiskers.
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I begin my week by following up with a client who viewed 14 properties with me last week, her favourite being a one-bedroom flat in Spanish Place, Marylebone, with a rental of £575 a week. While we were out viewing one property she lost her 40th birthday present — a rather expensive watch. She called me on Friday evening in a panic about the watch, but also worried because she didn’t want to lose the flat we had made an offer on.
Helping someone to find a home often feels like you are a close friend advising them on the next chapter of their life. Sadly, she then realised none of her furniture could be dismantled and there was no way it would fit into this property, not even through the windows, so she pulled out.
I’m valuing a recently refurbished, four-bedroom lateral apartment on the Hyde Park Estate today. The property has been taken from the Seventies and transformed into a sleek, modern urban pad. It took the landlord over 14 months to complete the work and I have no doubt the flat will be secured within the first week of viewings. The specification and finish is exactly what prospective tenants are looking for in a rental. When I am about to leave I realise that the owner has shown me around with her cat on a lead.
The last few weeks have been crazy, with offers and deals coming in from all directions. The office is buzzing — however, it’s a tricky market, too. People are viewing up to 35 properties or more across several boroughs. The trend now seems to be that applicants make offers on lots of properties in different areas, looking for the best price and the most attractive interior for their money and their needs. Presentation and price remain the key factors in the lettings market.
We recently marketed a beautiful family home in Connaught Square which today goes under offer for £2,800 a week, which is £300 a week above the asking price. This isn’t unusual for family houses because they are in such short supply. A house in Oxford Square is proving similarly popular, with an offer coming in at the asking price of £1,800 a week. It was lived in until now by the owner, and as it hasn’t been let before it is of extremely high quality, which is why the prospective tenant fell in love with the place.
It’s the Connaught Village Summer Festival, an annual event in the Hyde Park Estate’s luxury retail quarter, and this year’s revellers include one of the country’s most famous couples, whose sons go to school locally. As well as the dog show, which is a big affair, and plenty of Prosecco on offer, all the estate agents set up stalls down the street. One agent has a bouncy castle, and another guy is dressed as a bear. Next year we are going to draw straws for who in the office gets to wear our fancy dress.
A landlord calls me to say he feels he is investing too much money in his buy-to-let property, and asks if he should sell. I tell him that if you own a property in prime central London, its value will only go up over the years, and though landlords might feel they are pumping more money into their investment than they are getting out at present, they will eventually see the benefit.
You have to spend to get the returns. Tenants are getting pickier. They only offer the asking price if there has been a total refurbishment. Wealthy tenants used to ask for a professional clean and maybe for the bathroom to be re-grouted. Now they want repainting throughout, new blinds and new kitchen worktops. After our chat, the landlord decides not to sell after all. 
  • Jemilla Divito is manager of residential lettings at Cluttons Hyde Park (lettings: 020 7262 6767; sales: 020 7262 2226).

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