Diary of an estate agent: Islington lettings

A bidding war and a new price record follows the £400,000 refurbishment of a one-bedroom flat. Plus an overseas student with £45,000 a year to spend on rent and a dapper drunk pops into the office.
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I’m looking forward to seeing the response to Saturday’s open day for a tiny one-bed, top-floor flat up a steep, long flight of stairs. It doesn’t sound like much, but it attracted a dozen or more people jostling to look around and has had four offers, some more than the £425-a-week asking price.
One-bed flats are always hotly fought over around here, but this one is particularly popular as it’s just 200 metres from Angel Tube station. I call the owner in Andorra and, surprisingly, he doesn’t go with the couple who were the highest bidders. He chooses a single chap who works for a hedge fund. “Less wear and tear,” he tells me.
I stroll down Camden Passage, past all the thriving small boutiques, to see a two-bed maisonette on prime Devonia Road that I last viewed when it was near-derelict.
The owner, who is on the Sunday Times Rich List, bought the property for his son and gave him free rein — and a blank cheque — to renovate it.
A near-£400,000 refurbishment later, the result is jaw-dropping. Real style with an intelligent integrated Sonos sound system and self-learning Nest heating. But it’s a first for Islington. Let’s see what price it goes for.
Talking of high prices, we find a taker for a two-bed flat in St Pancras Chambers on the market for £850 a week. She’s an overseas student — with £45,000 a year to spend on rent. In fact, all three flats we’ve let out in that development have been to wealthy students from Singapore, Bangladesh and Russia, plus another one-bed flat to the confidante of a Saudi princess who resided in the adjoining flat.
Unfortunately, a competitor let the flat to the prince’s daughter (does that make her a princess?). They rented three flats in a row — one for the principal, one for the confidante and the other for security.

I’m called to meet a client of ours who has just converted an office on Mortimer Road in Dalston De Beauvoir into a one-bed flat. The property sits next door to The Talbot, a busy gastro pub, with the bedroom next to the beer cellar. What’s more, the builders have allegedly been putting their rubbish in the pub’s bins and the landlord isn’t happy. I call round. This is going to be tricky.
Our office feels like a goldfish bowl at times, which is great for watching Islington’s very diverse passers-by, but we’re also a sitting target. A smartly dressed but blind drunk man, presumably straight out of a local pub, staggers in and starts shouting loudly: “It’s a travesty!”
I make a joke about our asking prices, but then he starts to look intimidating. It takes four police officers to drag him out.
Another battle arises when I realise a rival agency, with whom we’re jointly marketing a flat, has stolen our professional photos and floor plans rather than paying for their own.
I get on my high horse and email a long, powerful, professional letter about digital theft, breach of copyright, legal action etc. I get a quick reply from the agency’s manager with just one word — boring. After today’s tension, it’s what I need to make me laugh. He takes the photos down, too.
Two results. A bidding war for the Devonia Road property sees a couple, who are relocating from the US, clinch it for £975 a week — the highest figure I’ve come across for a property of this type.
And the flat next to the pub finds a happy tenant — a sociable single lady who is up at least as late as the pub is open, so she won’t be lying in bed listening to the clanking of beer kegs.
She successfully negotiates the price down a bit, so everyone is happy.
  • Christopher Morris is associate lettings manager at Cluttons in Islington (020 7354 6666)

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