Diary of an estate agent: offers flood in for a Notting Hill doer-upper

A house requiring work creates a stir in Notting Hill and makes the vendor very happy
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While January certainly isn’t everyone’s favourite month, it is a time to plan for the year ahead, as it’s when many buyers and sellers come back from their winter sun beach holidays, or from skiing on the French slopes. 

A delightful elderly gentleman drops in to the office at about noon to explain that he needs to sell his house because he’s spotted a little cottage in Oxfordshire that he would love to retire to. As we’ve sold the last four houses in his road, he has our undivided attention, and we arrange to meet him at his home early tomorrow.
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I and a colleague reach the gentleman’s house at 8am, and a welcome cup of coffee is offered. He explains he’s lived there 38 years and hasn’t done much to the place since he moved in. A quick glance up at the ceiling where a large piece of plaster is threatening to fall on all three of us confirms this, and while we agree some major work is required, we know the house will cause quite a stir with buyers. 

No sooner have we finished our coffee than the gentleman passes us a set of keys and asks: “When can you start?” Knowing this house is liable to bring buyers back early from their holidays, we rush back to the office to find the lettings team congratulating each other on their second let of the new year — competitive as ever, they love to get one over the sales team and have a gloat.

It’s raining hard in Notting Hill, so the team steps out on to Westbourne Grove to pass out some of our umbrellas to passers-by who have been caught out by the deluge. It won’t dampen our spirits though, as we start to take the first few prospective buyers through the elderly gent’s house. 

Developers, downsizers, first-time buyers, investors — there is not a single type of buyer not represented. As predicted, the feedback is overwhelmingly positive. Second viewings are booked and the early indications of offers are being discussed. Despite his age, our client is like a giddy schoolboy as he asks us when we expect the first offer to be made.

An old client calls me on the way to work. He’s getting married he tells me. “Congratulations,” I say, to which his reaction is rather muted. He tells me that sadly, he will now have to sell the bachelor pad he bought through me last year. Apparently, it makes his wife-to-be think about his life before her! I sympathise, remembering how great the flat is, and how hard he had to fight to secure it first time around.

I spend most of my afternoon taking builders and overly excited buyers around our unmodernised house and then arrange to meet my client first thing tomorrow to discuss progress.

Another early start with our new client. I ask him to put his coffee cup down on the table before I read out the details of the four offers we received over the course of yesterday evening. By the time I get to the final offer he is grinning like the Cheshire Cat. It’s moments like these that are the most enjoyable in my job, when you know you have a truly satisfied client. We agree on a plan of action going forward and leave him practically skipping in his drawing room. 

We return to the office where the other sales team members are abuzz with the first two agreed deals of the year. We’re up and running for 2014.

Alistair Heather works for Strutt & Parker and is based in their Notting Hill office (020 7221 1111).
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