Diary of an estate agent:Knightsbridge

A west London estate agent is given a budget of £100 million for a home and he has a very nerve-wracking experience at a vendor's home...

Our daily Crayson team meeting is first item on the agenda this week, to discuss what’s going on in the industry. Ongoing negotiations on four houses and two apartments dominate the briefing, as well as the effects of recent political and economic events. The sales team’s on the phone by 9am and viewings are being scheduled.

My afternoon and evening are spent catching up with clients. Our client relationships are more like joint ventures, and always frank and transparent. I can always be reached beyond office hours and busy clients really like this.

The stock market’s the topic for my team talk today — I used to work in corporate finance so it’s second nature. At 11am I join a meeting with a buyer. Often my job is to give a fresh view to buyers in order for them to understand value.

I do my own appraisal based on the research I did when I set the price. After a short chat I leave Tom in the team to agree next steps.

Then I’m off to Knightsbridge to meet a client who has a house he wishes to be sold discreetly. I arrive at a smartly presented front entrance to be greeted by a very fashionable lady who I presume is his wife. It turns out to be his PA. Mr X doesn’t speak a word of English but thankfully his PA does. The client mentions the word “Kalashnikov” and I feel some nervousness.

It turns out that the walls and doors are so thick and reinforced that they are, in fact, Kalashnikov-proof. That’s reassuring to know…

“Mr Big” is getting all my attention today. I have something exciting on the cards with him. Our brief is to build a high-value portfolio. This is the result of many overseas meetings but came originally from a referral via a client of accountancy giant KPMG.

First, though, Mr Big is looking for a residence for him and his family who are moving to London, and it’s a  £100 million budget. I’m in one house and I remark to the agent: “Wow, is this the master bedroom?” to find it’s the maid’s room. The master bedroom is beyond anything I have ever seen. As my jaw hits the floor I consider the price and it all makes sense.

We’re talking currency. The US dollar, the Chinese renminbi and others are up against the pound over the past weeks. There is a good buying opportunity for those holding these currencies. We discuss how we can use this to the advantage of our clients.

Meanwhile, on a flat that’s already under offer, we are having issues obtaining certain documentation from managing agents, which is holding up the exchange. Claudia in the team goes the extra mile to their offices to secure the paperwork.

I’ve prepared a market appraisal for the Kalashnikov house. There are pros and cons but I’m uncertain whether the bulletproofing adds any value.

An American fund wants us to devise an investment strategy, and Peter, who is head of investments at Crayson, has set up a series of early meetings in the City today.

Mr Big likes the house with the football pitch-sized master bedroom and is flying in to see it next week. And it looks like we have won the Kalashnikov house instruction.

Although my market appraisal is not the highest, we have provided the best value comparisons and he likes our service and approach.

Peter gets great offers on a block of flats and a cinema complex, Claudia’s flat sale exchanges and Tom’s buyers look like they are about to raise to an acceptable level. Having missed the morning meeting I suggest convening at 5.30pm at the Cock & Bottle — and there’s a rush for the door.

  • Nick Crayson is founder and managing director of estate agent Crayson (020 7221 1117)

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