Diary of an estate agent: London W1

A happy Italian and a mystery shopper lighten a busy week.
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The day starts with some good news, as we receive new sales instructions to help boost our depleted stock. With fewer properties being sold we have less choice to offer buyers.
Fortunately, we have been in the area for 12 years so people know where to come when they do decide it’s time to sell, and returning business is a major part of our success.
My colleague Sandrine is out showing one of a number of newly refurbished flats which are owned by a local charity that we look after. The prospective tenant, an Italian, loves the flat but he has a three-month notice period to serve on his current lease — which is quite unusual.
We ask him where he is staying and it turns out he is with a landlord who used to be on our books. Sandrine offers to speak to them on his behalf to see what can be done about reducing the notice period, because he loves the new flat.
We receive the sad news that one of our long-standing clients has passed away aged just 50. He was looking to buy when we first opened back in 2002 and only bought his current home through us three years ago. He was a real character and will be missed.
We have better news for the Italian tenant. His landlord will let him leave earlier if we can find her a replacement tenant. The letting team get to work showing the property.
The Tube strikes are causing problems for our staff — and also for customers, some of whom start to consider buying homes that are more central. We see a similar trend every time a strike is called. Pieds-à-terre become very popular, especially in Covent Garden.
Short-lease flats can be a bit of a headache. Extending the lease can be a real pain, along with the question of how to market the property, and to whom. Each lease can vary and there are different levels where different methods are used to calculate the extension cost.
We have such an enquiry today and we advise the seller to get in touch with a surveyor we often use, who specialises in lease enfranchisement. They value the lease extension and then there is a negotiation with the freeholder. If unsettled, it can go to a tribunal to decide. Short leases should not be feared, but they should be understood — so always employ a professional.
We are entering a competition for an estate agents award, so this is a great time to evaluate goals and achievements while looking at your company for the award entry and explaining what makes it different and special. The entry also involves a mystery shopper calling in to test us, along with a telephone interview. Last year we received a silver award for marketing, which was a great achievement for us, especially considering that our competitors were large corporates.
We have a happy Italian today, as we manage to secure a letting of his flat and he can now move into the new one. Both landlords are very happy, with neither losing out on any rent. A job well done by the team.
It’s my day to host nine property professionals. I give them a guided tour of the office and the Hudsons wall — static advertising on the side of a local newsagents where we showcase our properties. We then have a guest speaker talking about marketing, who is amazing.
In the afternoon I get to present on my business and how I can improve it and receive nine great responses, with options for me to take on board. Learning from your peers is so important if you want to grow and improve, and I cannot wait until the next session.
I am asked by Channel 10, Israel’s biggest television channel, to provide comment today on the housing market in London. Filming begins in one of the apartments we have available for sale which gives our client more exposure than they’d expected. Let’s hope it speeds the sale.
  • Jonathan Hudson is director of Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).

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