Diary of an estate agent: Kensington
I arrive at my desk at 8am after sledging to work (so green/so Boris) and within five minutes the feeling in my fingers has returned. It’s an exciting start to the week as we have three offers in excess of the asking price on a stunning flat just off Kensington Church Street, which we only launched a week ago.
The vendors’ solicitor got all the paperwork ready prior to the property going on the market, which will enable us to keep the momentum and make sure there is no delay on our client’s side when terms are agreed.
Two offers are from international buyers, indicating that the current economic picture hasn’t affected foreigners’ perception of London as a safe haven for investment, or their desire to keep equity here in something they can see and touch. We agree terms and our client is delighted — he can now move out of London to a beautiful house near Guildford through our private property search agent.
Following a generous recommendation from a previous client, I am thrilled to be instructed on an impressive maisonette in Holland Park. It will no doubt attract a lot of interest as it has wonderful views and is just a short walk away from the entrance to the park. However, the flat is unloved and empty.
We advise the client to furnish/dress the place, as the past three apartments that were dressed achieved above the asking price and were agreed on within a couple of weeks of marketing. Some excitement at the end of the day as a second appointment is arranged for an apartment that a number of potential purchasers have ruled out because of the bus noise from nearby Kensington High Street. It is perfect for this interested couple who want to experience the buzz and vibrancy of London. And they consider the property quite peaceful compared to their previous homes in New York and Shanghai.
On returning to the office I get a call from some charming Russian buyers who speak little English, and so we are all a little lost in translation. They secured a property after competitive bidding at the end of last week but do not look like they will perform to the agreed time, which is a concern. I am convinced they want to purchase the property and manage to find them a new legal firm with a Russian-speaking solicitor who will speed up the process.
I get home exhausted and turn on the television to see an old client called Rob Martineau on the news as he is about to run 1,000 miles in 30 days for charity — runforlove1000.com. My signing up to the gym to burn off the Christmas excesses suddenly seems just a little bit feeble.
I am showing a stunning ground-floor maisonette just south of Kensington High Street to a very elegant Italian lady who is dressed in a large fur coat. However, we don’t make it out to see the garden or to view the lower ground floor, as my client’s usually relaxed German Shepherd has the prospective buyer terrified — she hurries to the door with him charging after her.
I speak to my client about the dog, and we both agree that “Minky” needs to be out during viewings as he isn’t creating the right atmosphere.
While wealthy people from all over the world are buying the most expensive slices of Kensington and Chelsea, we have just sold two prime Kensington houses to British buyers who are keeping the flag flying — perhaps not at the very top end of the market, but fighting and buying with impressive purpose and determination.
The morning starts with a bang. A car pulls out in front of me and I am sent flying from my scooter and over the bonnet. Luckily I am only shaken up a bit, but regaling my colleagues with the story I unwisely let slip that it was only a little Smart car I collided with.
The office is jubilant as we finish the week exchanging contracts on a large flat which has direct access to communal gardens.
Will Allen is head of flats at the Kensington office of Strutt & Parker (020 7938 3666)