Christmas decorations are in the shops and some say the lettings market is quietening down. However, my morning starts with a flurry of phone calls putting forward offers from a very busy Saturday full of viewings. People work such long hours that being open all day on Saturday really does give us the edge.
We have a smart, one-bedroom flat that has stuck on the market for several months due to a slightly overambitious pricing by the landlord. It also looks a bit dark, so after a trip to the DIY shop we are soon balancing on the furniture changing his light bulbs… definitely not in the job description.
As the end of the day nears, we have happy clients with three deals tied up and a sealed bid deadline for 9am tomorrow.
I start with a market appraisal for an elderly couple wishing to offer their flat for short lets over the Olympics. They have been there for 27 years and spend summers in Scotland. The idea of two months prime rental when the place is normally empty is very appealing.
The flat is like an Aladdin’s Cave, with a set of antlers on the wall and a palm tree in the hallway. After much interior decoration advice and several cups of tea, we have quotes booked for removals, redecoration and new furniture that meets stringent fire regulations.
The question has to be asked… is all of this really worth it for a few months rent? The answer is given with a laugh — it turns out they have been wanting to sort out their flat for some time so this is a perfect excuse.
A call from a prospective client at a large house on one of Chelsea’s prime streets gets the morning going.
The family house market at this time of year can be notoriously touch-and-go. However, for a “best in class” property such as this one we will always have people lining up, keen to be the first through the door.
Back to the office and straight out again to another lovely property, this time at the other end of the scale: a fifth-floor studio flat. It is in a converted loft overlooking a garden square. Very clever design and use of space makes it a perfect London bolt-hole in a five-star location. Even the fifth-floor walk up saves on gym membership, though the prospect of trips up and down those stairs for every viewing fills me with dread.
Things are definitely not slowing down — another competitive bidding situation on a great flat just off the Fulham Road. The two-bedroom market at the moment is so busy, anything presented well is being snapped up.
A real draw of this job is matching applicants up with the perfect home, who are hopefully people who will care for the property as much as the owner. It reminds me how stressful letting out your property must be.
The day ends with tenants moving into a six-bedroom house. I pop round with some fizz and a card, along with goodies for the children, to welcome them. Our client is the landlord but we spend time with the tenants, who are excited to be moving in after three months of searching.
Frantic Friday. Any offers not tied up during the week generally get finalised by the end of the day, so that contracts can go out to be read over the weekend. We agree an offer on a super flat that came to the market on Tuesday.
The tenants could only view at 7.30 in the evening but fortunately in this case, it was worth it. Our client is thrilled: he is new to the lettings process and expected it to take longer.
At lunchtime I get a call from the client of Wednesday’s viewing — we are instructed … whoopee. Out comes the little black book of contacts and in goes our property manager to meet him and discuss taking over when he moves abroad. A photographer goes round that afternoon and we have the first viewing through the door. It’s great to be able to get a property online within 12 hours of winning the instruction.
Harriet Hustler is head of lettings at Strutt & Parker's West Chelsea office (020 7244 1275)