Diary of an estate agent: Totteridge

A north London estate agents prepares to celebrate its 35th birthday and a vendor strikes it lucky with a surprise find in his aunt's loft...

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A bittersweet start to the working week. It’s sad to say goodbye to some dear clients who are moving out of the area, having sold them their first home in Woodside Park nearly 30 years ago and then acquired the plot in Totteridge where they subsequently built their outstanding architect-designed mansion, of which we have just completed the sale.

On the plus side, I receive an instruction to sell an “original” semi near our office in Woodside Park. Unfortunately the spinster owner has just passed away, and the keen nephew wants it sold, asap. He is dropping the keys through our letterbox this evening. 

The house will sell overnight as we have several families, happy to renovate to their own taste, who want to buy in this road for school catchment.

After walking the dogs early I pick up a Voicemail from late last night from another “old” vendor looking for a quick sale of his house in a popular cul-de-sac off Walmington Fold, N12. By 9am my sales team has already spoken to five potential buyers and leaves to measure up the property by 10.15am. 

“Greedy” nephew from yesterday comes back in a panic for his keys. It seems he didn’t check the loft for sentimental memorabilia of his aunt during the house clearance. 

By 2pm we’ve got two good offers on the table for the “cul-de-sac” property, — we will speak to the vendor later. I leave the office at 4.30pm for a meeting with the directors of Octagon Developments about a couple of new builds in Radlett, Hertfordshire. 

This isn’t strictly on my patch, but we have notched up many sales for them in this neck of the woods, as well as the award-winning Wall Hall development at Aldenham, Watford, over the last 10 years.

OMG — I can’t believe it. The “keen” nephew comes back with the keys from his late aunt’s semi and he is almost lost for words. Apparently, when he went up in the loft he found two suitcases stuffed with banknotes, some of which aren’t even legal tender anymore. He thinks he’s won the Lottery. Full marketing starts today, so he’ll probably have an agreed sale, too, very soon.

I pop over to Woodside Avenue, N12 at lunchtime to take a peek at the five luxury flats my mate is building. With a fab finish and layout, they will walk out of the door when released in summer. Staff tell me they’ve had a record month for rental instructions. Woodside Park, West Finchley and Totteridge are always very popular for lettings.

The sale of the cul-de-sac property was agreed late on Tuesday afternoon, and the buyers have instructed their mortgage surveyor to visit the house today. Likewise, after several viewings at the “Lottery” semi yesterday, the nephew is considering three offers, just as I predicted. 

I’m very proud of my junior negotiator today. While working at his desk, he saw an elderly woman fall over as she crossed the busy road outside, and without a second thought, he rushed out to her aid. Many passers-by just carried on walking.

Our sponsorship cheque for Frith Manor Primary School’s summer fête next month is sent off. Real Estates has been supporting this great school since we opened in 1981. Some of its former pupils are now my vendors.

Totteridge office exchanges contracts on a mid-terrace Edwardian property this morning. No doubt my partner, Oliver Ross, will send out “Sold in Your Road” cards next week — it’s always good to demonstrate that we sell all levels of property in the area, not just the humongous mansions and estates in the premier roads.

I’ve just seen the first batch of our “Celebrating 35 Years” complimentary shopping bags, which we are distributing to about 8,000 homes in the area.  Hopefully this will generate some more instructions. I’m delighted to report another busy week for my offices in Woodside Park and Totteridge. 

I think I might just check my loft when I get home, as I’m not sure I went up there when we moved in five years ago…

  • Stephen Barnett is founder of Real Estates based in Woodside Park N12 (020 8445 6387), and Totteridge N20 (020 8445 3132).

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