It is a crisp, cold morning — my first back in the office after a week’s holiday in sunny Kenya, marred only by treading on a piece of broken glass in the pool. Which is why I hobble into work in sensible flats instead of my usual high heels.
I’ve been trying to negotiate a difficult deal where the freeholder of a first-floor, two-bedroom maisonette in Chelsea tried to wriggle out of responsibility for doing exterior works, resulting in a court case and a very anxious buyer. Nerves are frayed and I have got my work cut out trying to reassure each party of the other’s intentions.
The foot gets worse as the day goes on and by lunchtime I am at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where an X-ray reveals the embedded broken glass. After five hours with a highly unimpressed doctor and nurse, the glass is removed and I’m patched up. Having accidentally almost bitten the nurse — she got between me and the pillow I was trying to bite in my agony — she jokes that it is true what they say: “Estate agents really do bite your hand off!” I don’t get a sticker for bravery...
Still in flat shoes. And I am the Imelda Marcos of the estate agency world, so you will understand my distress. The second blow follows swiftly with the realisation I will not be able to drive. So I dust off my Oyster card and take my place at the front of the bus, on a seat reserved for the disabled and elderly.
On arrival at my desk I am greeted with a phone call from an irate vendor whose first-floor, one-bedroom home in Earls Court we are jointly marketing with a competitor of ours. Luckily, her anger is directed at them rather than me. It quickly transpires that one of their negotiators entered her flat without permission, inadvertently catching her tenant in the shower. As a result the vendor would like us to keep the keys and only release them with her express permission. Result.
An overseas client, who is only in London for the day but is ready to buy, makes it a busy start for me. I have six flats lined up to show him and I think I know the one he will choose.
Back at the office, one of my buyers calls to say he has read in the newspapers that house prices are going down and he is considering waiting until after the April stamp duty changes to see what happens to the market.
During the conversation an email arrives saying that a new instruction — an immaculate two-bedroom penthouse in the heart of SW7, which we took on yesterday on a multi-agency basis — received two offers and was agreed at over the asking price. I inform my nervous buyer of this and subsequently take him out to see three properties for a buy-to-let investment.
As a result of our success and customer demand we are opening an additional branch in South Kensington and we will sadly be saying goodbye to my favourite manager to date. As we now have limited time with him, he has treated us to a surprise breakfast in our weekly Thursday morning meeting.
Over the oddly delightful combination of Terry’s Chocolate Orange, salami, cheese and croissants, we discuss current market trends and review our top five buyers to see if we can match them to any of the off-market instructions we have access to.
Back at my desk I receive the call I have been waiting for. My overseas buyer from Wednesday has placed an offer on the new-build one-bedroom flat I recommended to him in SW10. Time to call the vendor and start negotiations.
The bandage is off and I am ready to test the foot. Like Cinderella slipping into the glass slipper — who am I kidding? — I jam on my high heel and I’m ready to face the world. Being only 5ft 2in tall, it really is the only way I can face the world.
Empowered by my footwear, I am ready for the day. After much negotiation we have now agreed terms on a small, top-floor, two-bedroom flat in one of Chelsea’s busier roads with my nervous buyer, who is thrilled — as is the seller, who achieved a great price.
The weekend is looming. I could just go and have a quick peek at the Russell & Bromley sale...
Ten minutes later, I walk back into the office carrying a big, shiny box, over which my manager casts a withering eye. My thoughts immediately turn to next Monday and how I will be paying for the contents.