Diary of an estate agent: Islington
An Islington estate agent shuffles around 30 viewings trying to hide the hole in his sock - but doesn't quite succeed
The week begins with a call from a client whose semi-detached house we are selling in Highbury. It’s a lovely property, near Highbury Fields and with lots of period features, but also a much more modern one — a mural on a bedroom wall painted in the Eighties by the now world-famous street artist MODE 2, who was in those days a friend of the owners’ children.
They kept it because they liked it, little knowing how famous the fledgling artist would become. The call is to tell me our For Sale board has blown over in the night, damaging the paint on their car. I call the board company who have insurance and will take care of it — though I’m tempted to call MODE 2.
The day improves as it goes along, with several buyers bidding for a rare converted flat in Canonbury that results in a figure way over the asking price.
We are selling so quickly I need more property, so I am delighted to visit an elderly gent to talk to him about selling his flat. When I arrive I realise it’s not going to be straightforward — the owner takes 10 minutes to get to the front door and inside the place is crammed with carrier bags and old newspapers.
He should have moved years ago. I wait the 10 minutes for him to return to his chair to see what I can do to help.
Back at the office I get a call from a neighbour of the flat we sold yesterday in Canonbury. She’s heard of the excellent job we did and wants me to sell her flat, too. Much-needed new stock.
Our daily briefing, and a chance to tell the team about our new instruction, send them to meet the owner and learn about the flat. It is so important we can talk knowledgeably about our clients’ properties and give buyers confidence in our information. On this occasion it brings instant results — soon after the team return to the office they arrange seven viewings.
Later in the day I receive a call from a woman who wants to sell her home. As it’s only around the corner from the office I walk to see her and enjoy being shown around her beautiful Georgian house which has the most wonderful original period detail and oozes character.
The owner is quite a character too, with an incredible shock of wild and strangely coloured hair. I make it through the five floors without noticeably staring at her hair when we reach the back door. Expecting a garden, I am dumbstruck to see a huge outbuilding where the garden used to be. Inside it is a fantastic space that the owner, an artist, uses as her studio and office.
I am often asked if, after 26 years in the business, I’m bored with looking at property. I reply that I still love Islington and its infinite variety, and how when I knock on a front door I never know who or what I am going to see.
Offers are coming in for the latest flat in Canonbury and we are quickly at a higher price than the owner was told she would receive by her other agents before being recommended by her neighbour to call me. Good news is still travelling fast as yet another neighbour asks me to visit his garden flat.
That’s the third flat in the same road this week. We call a potential buyer who missed out on the previous flat as this one ticks all of his boxes. He wants to know what is wrong with the road and why so many people are selling. There’s no satisfying some people!
We are launching two properties on to the market today with open viewings — a four-bedroom house in Islington and a two-bedroom flat in Clerkenwell. I set up with plenty of brochures, study the list of expected viewers and lay out the refreshments.
I advised the owners on how to present the house and as the carpets have been cleaned I ask visitors to remove their shoes on entering. Setting a good example, I realise I have a hole in my sock and spend the rest of the day shuffling around with it tucked in between my toes.
After 30 viewings, we receive an asking price offer on the flat and a fantastic cash offer on the house. I congratulate the buyer of the flat, who says: “Now you can afford a new pair of socks.” Busted!
Jonny Miller is manager of the Islington branch of Faron Sutaria (020 7354 9737; www.faronsutaria.co.uk)
London house prices: the average cost of buying a home in every borough