Diary of an estate agent: Fitzrovia
The momentum has carried forward into this month, following the good end we had to January. It seems the uncertainty among some buyers is motivating others.
Buyers are focusing on value, none more so than the Chinese, for whom the favourable rate of the yuan against the pound is giving them a great reason to purchase.
An American family comes in to see my colleague Spencer today. They are viewing a place in St John’s Wood and were looking four years ago for a home around £5 million but ended up renting.
With a mixture of currency exchange rates and a cooling of property prices, that same house would cost just over £2.5 million today — so they are keen to buy now.
An amusing call comes in from a resident at one of our managed properties.
He rings to tell me he cannot find one of his favourite hats, despite several searches. He mentions it has special value to him.
He goes on to ask if the CCTV at the front of the building is working and if so, could we look back to Thursday last week, around 8am, to see if he left the building with it on.
I will leave it to the concierge to locate this important footage. The things people ask for…
I meet up with a couple who have been introduced via my contacts in China. They are keen to buy a flat for their two children who are likely to come to London to study.
Although this is three and four years away, they know now is the time to buy, with China’s economy slowing and a cooling of prices in central London. This means they have a reasonable amount of stock to choose from.
Chinese buyers are often keen on new builds as they throw up fewer problems, and a porter or concierge gives parents comfort that someone is there to keep an eye on their kids. Feng shui and lucky house numbers are also important, of course.
We view a few flats but it’s a Whitfield Street property, being sold off-plan as it doesn’t complete until August, that most appeals.
The show suite provides detailed plans, examples of the finishes and a history of the developer, Derwent, and its exceptional eye for detail.
This scheme is perfectly located less than 10 minutes from UCL, SOAS and London School of Tropical Medicine.
I walk the couple around the area before we head to Black Sheep Coffee to discuss offers and timescales.
My sales colleague Simon has positive news from his viewing yesterday and receives a really good offer on a house in Colville Place.
We have sold 90 per cent of the houses down there over the last 17 years and this one is a mews house in a quiet pedestrian turning off Charlotte Street.
There’s an interesting story here. The house had been on the market for a few months with limited interest, as it was empty and buyers couldn’t see the potential, but it was transformed after the owner agreed to a short-let firm going in to decorate and furnish it, and then sublet it.
Viewings since led to this offer, and to the house showing its true magic, ending in the agreed sale.
Meanwhile, the seller still receives rent while the delayed completion months roll by. This is a win-win for both parties.
A distraught inventory clerk phones in. She is at a property doing a pre-tenancy check-in and has closed the bathroom door, which has then locked itself and she cannot get out.
I calm her down and we go through the options. It turns out she has all the keys on her with no spare sets in the office.
But there is a window opening out to the back of the building, so she could potentially drop the keys out and someone could catch them, open the flat and the bathroom door and set her free.
Robert, our lettings director and best catcher, goes to the rescue and gets her out of jail.
Well, that was a hectic week full of good business and unusual goings-on. I’ll buy the office drinks today and we can all head into the weekend with a pat on the back.
- Jonathan Hudson is founder of Hudsons in Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia W1 (020 7323 2277).