Diary of an estate agent: Notting Hill
The week begins on a promising note. We agree terms on a fabulous four-bedroom maisonette in Notting Hill at the asking price only eight days after its launch. Mind you, we’ve conducted 39 viewings in those eight days and we’re confident we have a strong, committed buyer who happens to live locally.
We are seeing such a range of international purchasers at the moment — it’s often a rarity to find a British buyer.
I recently sold a wonderful two-bedroom flat overlooking communal gardens to a gentleman who bought it as a rental investment. He has just finished works to improve the property, and my lettings team is beginning to show it to prospective tenants today. Before the day is out, they agree a tenancy in excess of the asking price. I am thrilled to hear it. If only all our deals were conducted at such lightning speed.
Our weekly meeting reveals some encouraging figures and October has proved to be our busiest and most profitable month since September last year. Activity over summer was unseasonably poor this year as the awful weather, bank holiday weekends and the Olympics all served to stifle our market — but we’re quickly making up for lost time.
This afternoon, I meet my client and a lady from a furnishing company at an empty two-bedroom flat, having advised the vendor that his white walls, white shutters, white kitchen and white carpets won’t get buyers excited. It’s a beautiful day and we arrive at the south-facing flat in full sunshine, only for us all to be blinded by the brilliant “whiteness”. We’re all seeing stars before our eyes, but thankfully my client sees the funny side and agrees to furnish the flat.
As a company, we seem to be getting better at referring business. This morning our office in Banchory near Aberdeen recommends us to clients of theirs who own a rental investment in Notting Hill which they want to sell. We arrange to meet them and value their refurbished mews house in W2. However, having offered him our opinion on price, we learn that he has been given a range of just short of £1 million from the four agents he’s called in. Thankfully, our value is fairly and squarely in the middle but it shows how difficult it is for vendors to choose an agent when presented with such disparate opinions. We are up against it with this valuation.
We complete the sale today of a fantastic £3 million flat and I nip over to check the vendor has left it clean and tidy for the new owners.
Amazingly, although it is very clean, I am surprised to find several pieces of furniture, the odd picture and some beautiful lamps have been left behind. We are expecting the solicitor to call to confirm the monies have arrived, so I call the vendor. No two clients are the same and this one is charming and relaxed — he says he has no need for the items and “thought the buyer might like them”. This is a bonus for the buyer as these items would cost a fortune.
After lunch we meet the Banchory clients at their investment flat and we win the instruction. Once again, however, we need to prepare the property for the market as it needs a good clean and the garden is a jungle.
I recently acted on behalf of a wonderful American client on the purchase of a large family house in Notting Hill. We complete the purchase first thing and I meet my client and her architect at the house to discuss the proposal for a subterranean extension. Back at the office, I read an email headed “Cinderella” from a buyer who moved into her new house last week and found a brand-new pair of Jimmy Choos at the back of a wardrobe. She is mortified that they don’t fit her, and feels she has no choice but to return the shoes. I will now have to post them to our clients who have moved to New York.
Friday is always my busiest day, and two tricky deals both exchange on the cusp of 7pm. I feel like I have just won Olympic gold! I set off home, greatly relieved and in search of a box to post off that pair of unfeasibly high heels.
Miles Meacock is a partner at Strutt & Parker's Notting Hill branch (020 7221 1111)