Diary of an estate agent: London W1

Weighing it all up, everyone is happy with a flat-swap deal.
The sun is shining as I cut through Marylebone and Fitzrovia to my office. I am greeted by very cheerful staff — last week ended with a flurry of offers from all departments, so maybe that’s the secret to staving off the Monday morning blues. We set ourselves targets for the week and get on.
I hear a new letting agent in the area has disappeared. Here for under a year, they set up, held clients’ deposits and now it is suspected they ran off with the money, which could amount to hundreds of thousands of pounds.
This is why any tenant or landlord must use an agent licensed by the Association of Residential Letting Agents. It runs a strict joining procedure and sets standards, offering assurances that such an occurrence would be highly unlikely.
The owners of a one-bedroom flat are keen on a two-bedroom flat we are marketing, while the seller of the two-bedroom flat wants to downsize to their one-bedroom flat. I’m trying to recall if this situation has ever happened in my 24 years in the business, other than for a part exchange on a new-build home.
Mayor Boris Johnson has brought out his charter for better conditions within the London rental market which includes better living conditions, transparent fees, quicker response times for repairs, and better communication between tenant and landlord. Ultimately this is good news, though my advice would be, if you are a landlord or tenant who doesn’t receive the above as minimum standard, use a professional company that does offer this level of service.
We have a stall at a local university fair where students meet agents to discuss their accommodation needs. They often come with high hopes for a big house or mansion flat to share, to make things cost-effective. However, one- and two-bedroom flats make up the majority of available property.
We give advice and guidance, explaining how the rental process works to overseas students, many of whom have never rented before. Meanwhile, our apartment sales double deal is looking more likely. It’s interesting having both sellers and buyers trying to negotiate the best price for their sales and purchases. While quite a unique scenario, I can see the complications.
There’s so much news about the London housing market cooling at the moment, and there can be months when things slow down before they lurch forward again. As soon as news like this circulates in the press we have clients asking whether they should sell now or hold out for potential further growth.
It’s so difficult to call but our advice is always the same, and given in the best interests of our customers rather than ourselves: it has always proven to be a great investment to hold property long-term. However, selling while the market is at a historical high is often the best time to realise any gain, especially after the increases achieved over the last three to four years.
Good news to end the day. All parties have agreed on price and timescale for the flat swap and we are up and running with solicitors instructed.

We receive an increased offer, at full asking price, on a flat that came on the market last week, after I had to prove to the seller, who lives in Cyprus, that our quoted price was achievable. We have provided the seller with proof of deposit funds and mortgage approval but he wants to think about it over the weekend.
While he is doing that, I hope the buyers don’t see something else. We will need to reassure them and hope common sense prevails. For a reality check, perhaps I should send the seller a link about the cooling market over here...
  • Jonathan Hudson is director of Hudsons Property based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).

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