Diary of an estate agent: Notting Hill

The buyer asked everyone for their opinion — even his pets.
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I wake up to an absolutely beautiful day after a weekend of nothing but heavy rain. Oh well, at least there is plenty going on at work to take my mind off the injustice of the weather.
After a week of persuasion and persistence I am instructed on a flat that is owned by a native Singaporean who bought in London thinking the streets were paved with gold. He purchased the apartment “blind” and after two years of being let, it has been on the sales market with another agent for six months. However, there’s still no buyer — and the price is falling.
It’s a great flat that is suffering from overexposure to the market, making buyers feel there must be something wrong with it, when in fact there isn’t. I am thrilled we will have our chance.
I receive an offer on an apartment we are selling in the heart of Notting Hill. I love the flat, yet it has taken a record nine viewings from one buyer to get them to the point of making an offer.
Parents, brother, sister, parents-in-law and friends have all been brought along to give their opinions. Even pets have seen it. The offer comes in over £150,000 below the asking price.
This won’t go down well with my client, but before I am able even to get a response from them, a request comes in to see the flat just one more time. Patience is a virtue, as they say…
I receive a response to yesterday’s offer. That would be a “no” then. The buyer feels he was in with a good chance of the offer being accepted and I love his optimism, but the reality is the flat is worth much more, and with other viewings lined up I’m feeling confident. I would buy it — if I won the Lottery.
The rest of my day is filled with the task of establishing a new flats department for Strutt & Parker’s Notting Hill office. We need another negotiator and this means interviews, and plenty of them. We must have held over a dozen, and I am still not convinced we have found the right person for the job. It feels as though we are looking for a needle in a haystack, but I know “The One” is out there.
On the way to work a kamikaze driver nearly takes me off my bike. In a strange way, this has the positive effect of waking me up. I let it go as the driver looks seriously stressed, and I can empathise. In the headlines are more stories of rocketing house prices in London and I can see why people believe properties sell themselves and estate agents are just middlemen.
It’s true that buyers are more informed than they have ever been about sales prices and other flats that are on the market, with it all ready to view at the click of a mouse. Everyone is a property “expert”, it seems. However, the reality is very different.

The man who made Tuesday’s offer calls to tell me our client is crazy not to accept it. He points to his homework, consisting of details of the last five sales on the street. But I know what this flat is worth and I am even more determined to prove the doubters wrong.   
In this busy spring period, this week seems to have flown by, and today yields two really good applicants for the flats department, while we are being called in to see more properties by the week. With the improving weather I can sense the kind of optimism in the market that I haven’t seen since last summer.
The week ends well, with Tuesday’s flat selling for just under the asking price after nearly 50 viewings — so my hard work eventually pays off. 
  • Jeremy Montagu-Williams is an associate at Strutt & Parker in Notting Hill (020 7221 1111).

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