With our Wapping office located between the City and Canary Wharf, about half of our buyers and sellers are bankers. We are seeing a lot of French ones at the moment, probably because they are taxed so heavily back home. One comes into the office today who is typical of this type of buyer. He is not really looking to set up a permanent home in London, so he wants the aspirational two-bedroom flat with views of Tower Bridge in the distance, for about £1 million to £1.2 million.
Bankers , of course, can be aggressive negotiators and we get them on both sides of the deal, as buyer and seller, and both want to maximise value. Another drops in this afternoon and he has a budget of £700,000. Properties at this level are selling within a week.
His next move will probably be a family house in Blackheath or Islington. Around here we retain families with babies or toddlers, but after that they are off looking for schools. It means, though, that August is a good month for us as the local population doesn't disappear during the school holidays.
I fear one of our local celebrities, a wellknown TV presenter, will think I am stalking him. He's just walked past the office with his dog, and I also saw him at the weekend on the south coast, as he owns a house near my beach hut.
He lives in Pier Head, a beautiful Georgian riverfront square that is one of Wapping's most sought-after addresses. These used to be dockmasters' houses, so the square doesn't look like most people's typical image of Wapping. The houses sell for up to £3million and we have a two-bedroom flat under offer there for £1.45 million. Riverfront warehouse conversions are also popular. They are our easy-to-shift core market, as demand always outstrips supply.
It's all about views. Everyone wants West Wapping for the views of Tower Bridge. Within half a mile, values can change from £1,750 per square foot and more, to £850 further east.
A lady who owns a house in Cinnamon Street is selling after 23 years. She is the only person who has ever lived in the property. The thing is, she is leaving her goldfish behind and has asked us whether we can help to find a new home for it. With the schools on holiday, I am stuck.
I also hear from a client who has just bought a riverfront house at Olivers Wharf. Their furniture won't fit through the doors, so they have had to hire a boat to shift their stuff through the loading bay doors.
We complete today on a property which the buyer, from the Far East, has never viewed. He used to rent a studio flat in the same building 17 years ago, has done very well for himself in the meantime, and wanted to buy there, so he looked at the floorplan of this apartment and bought it. It was a weird one for us as we had no idea who he was. We Googled him, but he had quite a generic name so we ended up asking the porter, who has worked at the building for 20 years. Amazingly, he remembered the man. We still haven't met the buyer ourselves.
I open up the £3.15 million show flat at Tower View apartments, next to Tower Bridge, to show to a prospective buyer, and I have a stand-off with a pigeon. The flat has been kitted out spectacularly and has perfect views of the bridge. However, this pigeon is perched on the balcony railing and threatens to ruin the whole thing if he flies through the open bi-fold doors and leaves his mark on the exquisite sofas. I think he senses my panic though, and flies away. But while the pigeon doesn't go for the flat, neither does the buyer.
Lee O'Neill is a partner and sales manager at Cluttons in Wapping (020 7488 4858).