First thing this morning, brochures arrive for a fantastic new instruction in Belgravia. Our clients have refurbished the apartment but a change of circumstances means they have to sell. The beautiful roof terrace is the pièce de résistance. We are impressed and send details out to suitable buyers.
A client is in town from the Far East - he is looking to buy a big house locally and I am keen to show him an off-market opportunity - he offers the asking price on the spot. But after umming and ahhing for a few hours, I am shocked to find the sellers have raised the price by £3 million.
My client withdraws and flies home - even with tens of millions, buying the right house is not easy in London.
We have been introduced to a big-name pop star and she is looking at a mews house in Belgravia. I’m convinced she’ll love it - particularly the professional kitchen for personal chef.
I open the door, only to find the owner’s wife is inside. We have not met before. She is shocked to see me, tells me I have the wrong address (I do not), that the house is not for sale (it is) and refuses to let me in.
I am stuck between the celeb and the owner’s wife - awkward silence and ensuing panic about what to do. I smile and nod as if to say “we’ll be leaving then” - she smiles and nods, insinuating my incompetence… and I beat a hasty retreat, wondering if I’ve dreamt up this whole thing. It turns out Mr Owner had planned to let Mrs Owner know he had decided to sell the house - but only if and when a really good offer came in. He breaks the news to her and I am off the hook - but spare a thought for Mr Owner, who is in the doghouse tonight.
I send a client’s solicitor a polite email asking her to keep me informed regarding a sale’s progress, as there has been an ominous recent silence. She rings to verbally assassinate me. I hang up and rub my ear. Someone must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed.
Not in the mood to be bullied, I have a word with my client, which results in another phone call from the solicitor 20 minutes later. Obviously I had “totally misunderstood” her and she “didn’t mean to cause any offence” and she is “just very stressed” because she is “SO busy” and she asks where I live and about my family. Sometimes it is the little victories that are the most satisfying.
I am demoralised. I see and sell some of the most expensive properties in the world and, don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect to be buying a house on Eaton Square in my lifetime, but I would like a little shoebox to call home, somewhere on the peripheries. So I am flabbergasted to find that a flat above the flat I rent (on said peripheries), has just sold for £300,000. It is 200sq ft… a studio. Clearly I am never going to be able to afford to buy.
Later on, I nod politely as a potential purchaser tells me that the £16 million apartment in Knightsbridge that I have just shown her - the one with the 15ft ceilings and garden views - isn’t worth a tenth of what the seller is asking, turns her nose up and walks out.
Shell-shocked from the studio incident, I find myself strongly supporting her, saying I agree the price is ridiculous. I feel instantly much better.
Only a few days after launching our new property with the super terrace, we are inundated with inquiries and I am practically camped out at the property so we give everyone an equal crack. We get a strong offer from the first person who saw the flat on Monday and the seller tells us to counter offer on the basis that, if they meet his request, he will run with them.
This is unusual and we advise him this is bound to cause a riot considering the other interest. But he is an analytical sort and likes the cut of the buyer’s jib - he is making all the right noises, is the first to step up to the plate and isn’t “waiting to see what happens with other offers”. He obliges, meeting my client’s counter. We are delighted but I’m left to placate all the interested people who had been “waiting to see what happens with other offers”.
Oh, and despite my crazy prices tirade, we agree the lovely £16 million flat to a charming Italian for the asking price. Resigned to renting for a bit longer, I head home to the peripheries - it has been an eventful week.
James Gilbert-Green is an associate in the Knightsbridge office of Strutt & Parker (020 7235 9959)