Diary of an estate agent: W1
Sometimes agents do know what a buyer wants more than they do themselves.
9 April 2014
It’s a bright and crisp morning — my favourite kind. With the gym ticked off already, I stroll to work. Each day I vary the route, in case I see any developments on the way.
I am in the office just before 8.15 for our team meeting to make sure everyone has a clear focus for the week ahead, while celebrating the deals agreed from last week. I show the staff the new Qigong energy pose I learned last week. Yes it looks a bit weird — imagine John Wayne just about to grab his guns and hold that pose with your fingers outstretched. It provides a flow of positive energy for the week ahead. Or raises a laugh, depending on who is watching.
My colleague Simon is off to show a selection of flats to a lady who is adamant she doesn’t want to see one we have near Great Portland Street. He takes the keys with him anyway and lo and behold, she absolutely loves it. Unfortunately, so do many others. But it’s a prime example of a great agent sometimes knowing what a buyer wants more than they do themselves.
We are getting many disgruntled would-be buyers ringing up about the lack of homes on the market, and asking why so many new-build properties are being sold abroad. I have to say I do believe many UK-based buyers would be willing and able to purchase these flats, given the opportunity.
Many of these properties are going to be “buy to leave” flats, where no one lives, whole developments with the majority of homes unlived-in, no lights on at night. With such a shortage of available property to buy in London, it is surely wrong. I should start a campaign.
Maybe everyone who wants to buy a new-build flat can contact me and we can go to the developers and buy in bulk, to secure some of these great homes for all of us to live in.
I have some good news from my sales director. He has just secured three new-build properties which are not being offered abroad first, so it’s a double win. Now we can start calling our database of disgruntled buyers and offer them these very nice apartments.
They are in a lovely cobbled mews very close to Charlotte Street, the mecca for foodies with Michelin-starred restaurants mixing with some chains and one-offs. It’s fair to say that no one struggles for choice at lunchtime around here.
This afternoon I am off to visit a company based in Cambridgeshire that offers an innovative package to estate agents for marketing. We are always aiming to be different and forward-thinking, and to stand out from our competitors and the big corporates.
The traffic is bad heading out of town — when will I ever learn that I should sometimes catch the train? However, the meeting is incredibly thorough and they have an amazing set-up and attention to detail. Watch this space…
My PA, Jane, and I are practising some more Qigong. We’ve moved on from the John Wayne pose to stamping our heels on the floor. Who needs caffeine?
We’ve read some interesting statistics from around the country today showing that homes outside the London hotspots are finally seeing price increases. So the ripple effect is happening. It could be a good time for some people to sell up in London and live mortgage-free outside, getting a new lifestyle into the bargain.
It’s a busy day for news. My mortgage broker calls and tells me that due to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, many banks here have suspended lending to Russian nationals. Could this slow the market in some of the über-wealthy boroughs of London?
I am working on some valuations and with the market moving so fast, we have to be careful not to overvalue. But we have a lot of evidence we can draw on and we know our buyer database well. We have 21 buyers for every property.
I can’t believe how quickly this week has gone. I am on a train first thing to Leatherhead to listen to a great guest speaker, a former SAS guy who explains how they make decisions and lead. This is followed by an afternoon of sharing ideas.
Heading back to London, I need to make a mobile call but with limited reception I wait until we get to Waterloo. It’s 5.30pm and as I get off the train and walk towards the exit, I spot the customer I was due to call.
He says: “You didn’t call me.” I tell him: “The day’s not over yet.” He laughs and we discuss matters in the upstairs bar before he heads off on his train to Surrey. That’s everything ticked off.
Jonathan Hudson is director of West End estate agents, Hudsons Property, based in Charlotte Street, W1 (020 7323 2277).