Diary of an estate agent: Notting Hill

A west London estate agent avoids a near cat-astrophe as he finds himself in the Tour de Notting Hill
Diary of an estate agent
The day starts with me running to the office. My legs feel like lead this morning and I'm beginning to think that using a bicycle would have been a better idea.

Today we launch a fabulous one-bedroom flat with a gorgeous garden in Notting Hill that seems to have captivated the market. We have had incredible numbers of emails over the weekend via our website and the phones are ringing almost solidly.

Twenty one viewings are booked immediately, the first being with a lovely couple looking to buy a pied-à-terre, who have already seen 15 in the area.

I have a good feeling about this one, and I am right as they offer within seconds of walking through the door.

This morning I cycle in. Whether it's my competitive nature or the fact that it's freezing and I need to warm up, I treat every journey as the Tour de Notting Hill and I'm in the yellow jersey. Except I'm not — I'm in the thickest coat I can find and it feels like I have the early onset of frostbite in my fingers and toes.

The bids on the one-bedroom flat have started to come in thick and fast, ever proving that a great flat, sensibly priced, continues to attract an incredible level of interest.

Our vendor is thrilled and the atmosphere in the office is incredible. Developers, downsizers, parents buying for children, children buying for parents, first-time buyers — I don't think that there is a single category of buyer that isn't represented here… Interestingly, and contrary to much that one reads in the press about European money flooding into the area, last year 70 per cent of our buyers in Notting Hill were UK nationals. This year is proving to be no different, with British buyers flying the flag and leading the charge.

My last viewing of the day is at a beautiful house in Holland Park with a charming couple from Devon who have discovered countryside life isn't for them. Upon entering the house, two cats decide to make their break for freedom. Their "zigzag" formation beats all of us, and before I have a chance to intercept the ringleader, they are through the front door. After bribery with cat biscuits, they are back in front of the fire.

The fever pitch of bidding on the flat is starting to subside into a core of hardened buyers with steely determination. No one wants to lose the place and everyone can sense that this is turning into a tactical game.

It's 6.30pm and I greet a gentleman who wanders into the office and inquires whether we sell cigarettes. Disappointed to hear we don't, and seemingly unsatisfied with our selection of properties, we agree to compromise with a property magazine and a Strutt & Parker mint. It's definitely time to call it a day.

The morning begins with an early second viewing on a flat in Bayswater. My applicants are expats living in Hong Kong who want a buy-to-let that they hope to move to in the future.

We convene on the roof terrace. I could never tire of looking across the London skyline. There is always something happening or something I haven't previously noticed. The expats are holding their cards close to their chests, but we all agree it really is an out-ofthe-ordinary flat.

Incredible determination from my buyers who first viewed the Notting Hill one-bed has left them the top bidders in the race — so far. We are now considerably over the asking price, but it's not over yet and this is one that will run over the weekend. I also notice a brandnew Jaguar brochure on the side table and smile. Clearly a happy vendor with choices to make.

My final telephone call for the day is from my expats from Hong Kong, full of apologies for their late call. They have decided that Bayswater really is for them, and they are ready to make an offer.

Jeremy Montagu-Williams is a sales negotiator at Strutt & Parker in Notting Hill (020 7221 1111).

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