Diary of an estate agent: Sevenoaks

Our agent in Sevenoaks is faced with the summer lull and is told to give the paper cutter the chop
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One always forgets quite how quiet things go once all the private schools have broken up. However, we have 29 houses under offer waiting to exchange, so there is plenty to do.

Two of these are linked and just as we believe everything is ready the vendor’s solicitor discovers that a power of attorney is in place for everything except the sale of the family home. The purchasers are both lawyers and it is actually they who come up with the suggested solution, which would involve a doctor’s certificate.

Alice, our work experience girl, arrives to spend a few hours a day with us. We like to invite students over the summer to help give them some idea of life as an estate agent. It is always fun and injects fresh energy into the office.


A Health and Safety officer arrives and immediately notices the paper guillotine cutting device, which we have used for 20 years, must be condemned to a skip. I assure him that this will be the case. Nothing passes his beady eyes - it all feels rather unnerving. The good news is that we have finally found an ex-City banker who has gone into the recycling business, who now collects all our unused laminated brochures.

I’ve got a couple of valuations on, including an old school house that I sold to the vendors 19 years ago. It is so lovely when they remember you and we were immediately instructed for the middle of the month, once the holiday market begins to pick up. This happens a lot in our office - owners come back to us having been so pleased with our previous work for them.


Took Alice on an early valuation with my colleague Louisa, having asked permission from the vendor first. As we three stood in the garden discussing the possible value, it was Alice whose prediction most accorded with that of the vendor (possibly a little high).

An early phone call from a solicitor lifts our spirits when he lets us know another house exchanged last night and it had slipped his mind to tell us. Louisa begins the “exchange dance” routine which involves me raising my eyebrows rather a lot.

I have lunch with a fellow estate agent from Tunbridge Wells at a lovely country pub where we put the world to rights and nostalgically remember the old days before SISS (statistics, initiatives, strategies and spread sheets).


A lovely email is waiting for me when I arrive at work, from previous clients whose house we sold nine years ago. They moved to Mumbai, from there they went on to Singapore and are now coming home. We also sold a house to them in a popular road close to Sevenoaks station and it has been rented out ever since. It will be too small for them now.

I have in mind a beautiful Edwardian house that we arranged a sale for within a week of it coming on to the market last September, only for the vendors’ family circumstances to change.

A quick phone call to the vendors alerts them to the fact that we might be able to place their property at a superb figure without the need for a full marketing campaign. They are extremely grateful for the call.


With the period of time between arranging a sale and the exchange of contracts seemingly getting longer and longer, discussions over completion dates can now become extremely fraught and it seems that with one of our sales, neither party is prepared to back down. We are a week apart and each is waiting for the other to give some ground. This is when the art of negotiation really comes into its own - a fine art we have honed.

Great news - we exchange on a £1.85 million house and a grateful vendor comes in with a case of champagne to say thank you. We immediately open a bottle and the client helps us to celebrate - always the best end to a busy week.

Philip James is a partner at Strutt & Parker's offices in Sevenoaks (01732 459 900)

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