Diary of an estate agent: Islington

This Islington agent rips through a valuation and skirts around a problem...
There is great buzz in the office this morning after a busy Saturday of viewings. We had an open day for a two-bedroom maisonette in the East Canonbury conservation area — on the market at £775,000 — and 18 people traipsed through the door. 

The property is owned by an elderly couple who have lived there for 30 years, and the décor is best described as twee. The offers start coming in and we set a deadline of 1pm tomorrow for sealed bids. 

This afternoon, I do a valuation on a period property in Essex Road. I meet the vendor outside and he opens the door to reveal a flight of extremely  narrow and steep stairs. As I stretch to climb them, my skirt rips quite some way up the back. The valuation goes well, though, despite me trying to conceal the problem as best I can. Fingers crossed he will instruct us. 

It’s sealed bids day and eight offers come in for the East Canonbury  maisonette, some at 10 per cent above the asking price. The vendors haven’t sold a property in decades so they don’t know the process. When I go round to talk them through it and tell them about the offers, their jaws drop to the floor. They choose the highest chain-free bidder and then excitedly show me internet details of properties they want to look at on the Costa del Sol, where they are moving to next. 

The unlucky bidders always want to know why they weren’t successful. One tip is to offer an obscure amount, as you can miss out by a few hundred pounds otherwise. One buyer I dealt with recently said her lucky number was eight, so she offered £488,888 — and the offer was accepted. 

The vendor of the flat with steep stairs drops into the office with the contract and keys. As he leaves, he mentions: “I hope you managed to get your skirt fixed.” 

After nine months, we finally exchange on a one-bedroom garden flat in Beresford Road, Highbury. Such flats are hard to come by in that area, and this one had a chain of eight people stretching as far as Scotland. We were at the bottom and the chain kept falling through. However, in the end, our first-time buyers got it for £450,000. 

I take another first-time buyer to view a two-bedroom penthouse this evening. Close to Highbury & Islington station, it’s on the market for £1.5 million. For a first-time buyer, this is an incredible budget. Most of ours are young professionals who work in the City and are looking for places up to £800,000 with their deposits coming from the Bank of Mum and Dad.

It is a hot evening and the penthouse  owner ushers us through to the roof terrace where he has champagne and canapés waiting for us. He tells us to make ourselves at home and leaves us to it. It is such a stunning property, I would buy it right now if I could. The buyer feels the same and offers the asking price. To thank us, the owner takes our whole office out to his favourite fish restaurant in Covent Garden.

We have a very rare new instruction — a Grade I-listed, four-bedroom house in London’s longest-surviving brick-built terrace in Newington Green. Built in 1658, it has lots of period features such as original doors, panelling and floorboards, some of which are protected behind glass. We value it at £1,795,000. A well-known art dealer contacts us immediately to arrange a viewing. It is such an unusual property, someone will fall in love with its charm. I did a viewing with one family whose playful children threw stones all over the flower beds. I spent half an hour afterwards removing every one. 

I meet a vendor who bought a one-bedroom split-level apartment in Barnsbury through us two years ago for £386,000. He has converted it into a two-bedroom flat which we value at £800,000. He is delighted and I leave with the keys. 

It is testament to how values have risen in this area over the past couple of years, where properties now fetch well over £1,000 per square foot. Those who can no longer afford the prime N1 prices are heading further north to Holloway and east into Hackney, but the most prized areas are the Colebrooke Row/Duncan Terrace conservation area, Canonbury and Barnsbury.

After a successful week of offers agreed and new instructions, it’s off to the pub we go.

Stacey Fletcher is an associate at Cluttons in Islington (020 7354 6666)

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