Diary of an estate agent: St John's Wood

A St John's Wood estate agent discovers it's not what you know, but who you know in this sought-after London neighbourhood
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Diary of an estate agent


A busy morning catching up from the weekend, but the warm weather, football and impending Olympics don’t seem to have distracted focus in the St John’s Wood property market.

This afternoon, I value an amazing apartment overlooking Regent’s Park for £4 million. With two bedrooms and three reception rooms, it is the epitome of indulgence.

The owners are a wealthy Iranian family who only use it for a couple of weeks a year. They sold an apartment through us over 20 years ago when they moved a few hundred yards down the road.


I spend the morning dealing with the ongoing sale of a three-bedroom house. Last week the survey flagged up a huge amount of damp. I managed to get an independent damp report done before the official surveyor’s report came in, so now we have to arrange for the work to be done, as the buyers need to be in the place before the end of this month. Tight time frames — but as long as we are organised it should work out.

On my way to a valuation I bump into two previous clients on the high street and it turns out that they are friends of over 20 years. One owns a huge house on the east side of St John’s Wood, which he’d like to sell if he could buy a pad in the West End. I make a mental note to call our Marylebone branch and see what we can find for him.

The other client is only in the country a few weeks of the year and he is on the hunt for an apartment for his daughter. He’s looking to spend £750,000. She is already registered with us and, funnily enough, I’m showing her some properties in Maida Vale overlooking the Paddington Recreation Ground later this afternoon. That’s St John’s Wood in a nutshell: the über-wealthy do business face to face, because if you’re whizzing around the globe it must be nice to have the personal touch once in a while.


Great news this morning — we have won the instruction to sell the amazing apartment I valued on Monday. We start calling potential buyers and already have three viewings lined up by lunchtime. In St John’s Wood, 80 per cent of our buyers are international and most pay cash, so things can happen very quickly here.

This afternoon I arrange viewings at two properties fresh to the market — a lovely two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Maida Vale for £535,000, and a large one-bedroom flat on Hall Road for £400,000 with a walk-in wardrobe to die for. One person wants to make an offer before they have even seen the flat, so keen are they to buy.


I’ve just been passed a lead from an old contact: it’s a Kuwaiti buyer, currently living in America, with an £8 million budget for a three- or four-bedroom apartment. My contact is a Chinese former stockbroker to whom I sold two flats in Regent’s Park, and the potential client is a contact of his brother.

Time for a spot of lunch on the high street with an architect client. He has been working on a development opportunity to demolish a small block of flats and rebuild to over twice the size. Our land and new homes department has looked at it as well and I think we might finally get this one off the ground.


It’s deal-doing day. This week we have one completion and four exchanges waiting to cross the finishing line. They all seem to be running like clockwork except for one... there’s always one.

Daniel, my assistant manager, is a bag of nerves trying to resolve a last-minute technical hitch over a flat we are selling. Last night we found out that the block is suffering from subsidence and each flat owner will have to pay a percentage towards the repair work. We are frantically calling the managing agents and liaising with the vendor. The clock is ticking but we hear back from the managing agents and renegotiate the sale. Exchange is now set for Tuesday.

Tomorrow we’re sponsoring a school fête for St John’s Wood Pre-Prep. There will be 200 children and I have a feeling the day is going to be full-on. I’m looking forward to a rest on Sunday.

Mark Nevin is sales manager at the St John's Wood office of Kinleigh, Folkward & Hayward (020 7586 8001; kfh.co.uk)

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