Diary of an estate agent: Oxford

Londoners abound – many looking to move here and one who wants to go back. Plus an unruly Labrador tries to make one viewing more interesting.
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After a lively team meeting first thing, I head off to see a Victorian house in Jericho, Oxford, where the owner is moving back to London after several years. Understandably, she is shocked at what a two-bedroom flat in Fulham close to her sister is going to cost after being out of the city for a few years.
She is, however, pleasantly surprised when I tell her that her own two-bedroom house has gone up from £550,000 in 2011 to just more than £800,000 now. I put her in touch with our Fulham branch to see if they can help.
Back to the office for a few moments before I am out on viewings again — there’s no rest for the wicked.
My first appointment today is at a converted Methodist chapel where we are having photos and a floor plan done for a launch next week.
The sun keeps hiding behind the clouds, so the photographer and I spend an hour or so dashing in and out to get the perfect exterior shot of the house for the brochure.
In the afternoon I receive a phone call from a London couple in their forties looking to move out to Oxford.
The husband is quite happy to do the commute, which is only 45 minutes to the City, enabling his young family to have a bit more space to grow and access to excellent schooling. I suggest a few stand-out villages including Murcott and Noke, and a morning of viewings is booked in for next week.
In the past six months our London applicants have risen by 20 per cent; it appears the lure of ‘more bang for your buck’ will see the trend continue for this year.

With three sales close to exchange, this morning is spent on various phone calls to ensure all parties are happy.
A quick sandwich on the run is needed for a busy afternoon of appointments. First stop, two viewings at a property in a North Oxfordshire village. It’s a joy to show a house that’s in such good condition.
To finish the day, I have an appointment with an elderly couple who are looking to downsize and want some advice. A reassuring conversation leaves them feeling more positive, but I suspect it will take them a while to make the final decision.
When I return to the office, I hear some good news — one of the three properties has finally exchanged. Just two more to go.

I have to go straight to a viewing this morning and try to be cheerful despite the early hour. I get to the house 15 minutes before the viewing and an unruly Labrador is running amok.
I try to get the dog back inside without success and rip my trousers on a kitchen cupboard — clearly he hasn’t been trained. I find a tin of biscuits on the work surface and spend the next five minutes and five biscuits safely locking the dog away, which is a good job as th family arrive and have a little girl who is very nervous of dogs.
The viewing seems to go well and they book another visit, so I decide to stock up on biscuits.
Seven people have booked in to an open morning on Saturday for a house we are launching on a very popular road, so there’s plenty to do.
Then there is a very tricky conversation with a buyer of one of the sales that is close to exchange of contracts. Their solicitor has come across a restrictive covenant that stops the buyer developing anything in the garden without the payment of a percentage of the uplift in value to a university college that previously owned the property.
They are planning to extend the house and are worried this will stop them. I explain these covenants are normally to cover other houses being built in the grounds, not to stop an owner extending, but I will need to check.
We have come to the end of another busy week. It’s brought some wins and some losses, but it’s always interesting. 
  • Greg Thomson is a senior negotiator in Strutt & Parker's Oxford office (01865 366660)

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