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Diary of an Estate Agent: A Decade of “Knuckles”


Diary of an Estate Agent

Martin Clements

Monday
I was in high gear last week, working all hours, so the quiet of the Easter holidays is welcome, if a little unnerving. Hammersmith feels eerily quiet, the roads are bare, coffee shops empty and incoming calls more intermittent than they usually are on a Monday morning. With the “Beast from the East Mark 3” threatening to hit, I don’t blame those wishing to escape London early - but for Horton and Garton, it's business as usual. We start every Monday morning with a meeting where we share our individual highlights of the week and develop a plan of action for the week ahead. As John says, it's always “onwards and upwards”.

Tuesday
Despite another fresh, cold and windy morning, Spring is on the way. Coming into our King Street HQ, I can't help noticing the cherry blossom bursting through. It always brings a smile to local residents in Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush and makes for some fantastic street photography. Starting the day with a coffee is a must here in Horton and Garton HQ. Germain, our Operations Manager, has brought in some new coffee for the cafetière. As the coffee brews we start our daily meeting. With all feedback up to speed, we're looking forward to an exciting day ahead. A central Brackenbury home that we have been marketing has a second viewing arranged and all the right noises are being made that an offer is forthcoming.  The viewing went very well although as we often see in our business, some buyers have better poker faces than others... we await the outcome...

 

Coffee 

Wednesday
The roads are even quieter this morning and the team is eager to speak to our sales negotiator Phil to see how the second viewing went. The wait continues with a third viewing booked today!! All very exciting but time to keep a cool, calm and professional head for our clients. Having anticipated a quiet week, I can't stop the phones from ringing this morning. With many buyers and sellers away, those who were off and deciding to stay at home during the holidays have seized the opportunity to book valuations. I've been selling properties in Shepherds Bush and Hammersmith for so long that I've valued several of them twice or three times over. It's my favourite part of the job - getting to know owners and their property. Whether we list it or not, I love meeting West Londoners. As a result of the valuations, today was action packed from 10am (post morning meeting) to 7pm which definitely means Thursday will be a day of admin!

Thursday
I am a keen cricketer and as a bowler (who tries to charge in) there is a basic level of fitness required. With the season fast approaching, it's time to have my first run. A heavy dew settled overnight and with less runners about it was an ideal time to start my training. Arriving into work, I was greeted by Phil Coombes requesting “some knuckles."For those in the know, this can mean only one thing - he's received an offer! The third viewing did indeed materialise into an fantastic offer! In my experience a first offer is rarely the last and I am sure we can do better for our very patient client. After discussions with our client, I presented the buyer's counter offer which the buyer accepted: SALE AGREED! This was a particularly special transaction as our client came to us via personal recommendation and she has been incredibly patient with us in what continues to be challenging market conditions. Likewise the buyer had been looking with us for so long but had also been selling their property and thus had not previously been 'proceedable' (industry speak for secure). Needless to say, I have a very happy client and relieved buyer. If you're seeking guidance on your property, a market update or want to learn more about what's happening in your patch of Shepherds Bush or Hammersmith, drop me an email, give me a bell or pop into our King Street office.

Friday
It's Good Friday and time for a 10th anniversary spruce up of our King Street HQ. The dust sheets are out, computers deactivated and a fresh coat of paint expertly applied by our most trusted local contractors. Whilst it was technically a day off and I should have been enjoying some peace, I spent the day catching up on administrative duties and forward planning new launch strategies for properties that we'll be bringing to the market post-Easter. We don't have one single formula at Horton and Garton - every property and client is unique so a lot of energy goes into planning each individual property launch. One thing's certain... we have Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush's best book of buyers and I'm leaking one of our new launches to a handful of them today...

 

Quote 

Saturday
The decorators are in overdrive refreshing the office for the post bank holiday buzz. For me, a trip to see the family down in Dorset was in store. Fielding calls the whole way down (the beauty of the hands free) and with my laptop making the journey, I felt comfortably connected to my clients. With three new homes launching on Tuesday the morning was spent writing descriptions, preparing brochures and approving these with our clients... all with the stunning vistas from my father's office window. Each of our clients is informed of the legislation changes regarding EPC's - marketing a property for sale with a rating below "E" will affect potential buy-to-let investors who need a better rating to rent the property to tenants.

Diary of an Estate Agent: Managing March Madness


Diary of an Estate Agent

Ashley Clements, West London Lettings Manager

Monday
Our weekly planning session morphs into a lettings quiz - low scorer washes up the coffee cups. This starts the day with with a fun energy but also imparts some key legislation updates to the team. Fortunately I'm not washing up…. The benefit of writing the questions of course! My first incoming telephone call is from a landlord who has just completed a large-scale, high spec refurbishment on a Brackenbury Village house... and I have been invited to visit them later today. Having peeked inside many times walking past during the last year it promises to be a very unique property and after a debrief with the team we already have a particular family in mind for the next tenancy...

Tuesday
Team Lettings had a blinder yesterday with evening viewings resulting in two offers on the same property. As a local and independent agency we have been able to create a competitive but open and honest environment for our team. We work for one person - our client - so instead of choosing the quick or easy option, discussions are held at length about each offer, the suitability of the individual tenants and their positions. We then put the two different tenants to our client because, even though I offer my informed opinion, the choice is theirs. On a side note, I am feeling flash today with a new pair of cufflinks courtesy of my future mother-in-law. I'm convinced they help me type emails quicker... the same feeling you got lining up in new shoes as a child, facing the start line of the dash across the concrete from water fountain to bike shed, safe in the knowledge your new trainers would help you set a record time.

Wednesday
The lettings industry is far from dull; thanks to ever-changing legislation no day is ever the same. What you learned last month has been rewritten with new legal documents to pore over and fresh challenges to overcome. Today I attended a seminar on legislation updates. With a mountain of information to absorb, breaking it down within the seminar certainly helps! It is however reassuring to realise that Horton and Garton is already doing everything as we should, whilst we now have several new ideas to implement within our current systems and procedures. So much sitting today means I need to move so it's time to hit the Hogarth Health Club in Chiswick for a wind down with a swim and a steam.

Thursday
A full diary means I am helping to cover viewings for our lettings negotiators. I grab the brochures and keys before hitting the road. I spend the majority of my time with new and existing landlords and landladies, which I really enjoy, but I'd forgotten how much fun it is to help tenants find their new home! One offer received and a second viewing booked on one of our riverside flats, not a bad day at all… I may be a little greyer and older since I was last a full time lettings negotiator but it's been no trouble hopping back on the bike!

Friday
As usual there is plenty to do on a Friday with recapping on any outstanding points from the week before arranging the jam packed Saturday diary. A fantastic treat arrived today…flapjacks home made by one of our favourite landladies! We get many thoughtful gifts, often food, including home made brownies, sweets and cookies. Thank you to everyone and do keep the sweet treats coming! A team drink in the pub after work to round off the working week and it is noticeable just how much Horton and Garton has grown in recent years with everyone together including our Chiswick office.

Saturday
It's a typical Saturday of back to back appointments. Full diaries are par for the course with appointments often carrying on outside official office hours. A new team member joining us next week lives locally so stops by the office to say hi. Just what I like to see, another keen and enthusiastic person joining our crew. As an independent business in our tenth year we still see every team member and client as a part of our Horton and Garton family. We live and breathe property, working tirelessly to make the lettings process an enjoyable and seamless experience.

Diary of an Estate Agent – A Flying Start


Diary of an Estate Agent

John Horton, Horton and Garton

Monday
I love Mondays… especially after a previously busy weekend in the office. I knew today would be a good one as I could smell the hops from Fuller's Brewery on the walk to work. I'm not superstitious but when on a Monday morning you feel the sun on your face and already smell the beer brewing, you know it's going to be a great day! This morning I'm approving copy for the Spring edition of Our Patch community magazine which will hit doorsteps in early March. Our two offices agreed half a dozen sales last week - with one Brackenbury Village property receiving twelve sealed bids - so we have a lot of disappointed buyers to look after today. We pride ourselves on being able to match our buyers to their perfect property... a job that never stops in this popular part of West London. I've been the phone for hours and my voice has nearly given out... I need a hot ginger, lemon and honey tea.

Tuesday
This morning I attended a valuation with my Sales Manager Martin Clements and my Lettings Manager Ashley Clements (no, they're not related!). I've worked with both for over ten years and know our combined experience and knowledge of West London's property market is unmatched. From the fashionably unmodernised house to the riverside penthouse flat we're invited to appraise the very best homes in West London. The three of us helped the owner decide whether renting or selling his home would be the best course of action. Our clients are all different but have one thing in common - they're seeking experienced guidance and honest advice without the added pressure. I happily spend hours of my working week deep in conversation about the property market with local residents over cups of tea and coffee.

Wednesday
In the good old days the telephone, fax, paper and pen ruled the office however today it’s the smartphone and internet. My IT skills may not be the sharpest, being the most senior member of the team, but today I was made up as I managed to teach a “shortcut” to the 30+ year olds! My lettings colleagues have been ringing the bell all day to signify lets agreed. To the non-agent it might seem like 'job done' but this is just the beginning for our team. The referencing process, agreement of contracts, and finer points like furnishings and move in dates are all still to be agreed - this is when the years of expertise and skill are put into practice.

Thursday
The weekend is nigh, but unlike the liquid lunches of the 90's my lunch meetings now consist of espresso or sushi! We're proud to support many local charities and good causes within our neighbourhoods and this morning I've been in an extended meeting at The Hogarth Health Club along with my communications colleague to discuss a charity event we're supporting in March. Helping to raise awareness of charities and giving generously is part of our mission statement. After lunch, I'm feeling brilliant. I have to say The Crucial Café makes some of the tastiest and healthiest food I've ever eaten.

Friday
Fridays are usually exchange and completion days; the day of the week when keys are handed over to buyers and fizzy bottles are popped. Completion tends to happen from 11am – 3pm and as the selling agent we cannot release keys until we have confirmation from the seller's solicitors that all monies have been received. This Friday is no exception and I've been able to deliver the highly anticipated news to a delighted seller and ecstatic buyer. Achieving an all-round positive result is, for me, what this profession is about. The office closing on Friday evening means it's Beer O’Clock at The Hampshire Hog!

Saturday
My Saturday is consumed by back to back viewings and valuations. We knew January would be busy but truly didn't expect such a manic month! With so many sales and lets agreed we've been actively listing new properties that we know will be snapped up by buyers and tenants who've missed out. The evening will be spent on the town at a 1920's "Gatsby" themed Valentine's Ball, at a secret location which is to be announced. The spats are pressed and the brogues are polished - what a way to end the week!

Diary of an Estate Agent: Farewell 2017


Diary of an Estate Agent

Paul Cooney, Horton and Garton, Chiswick

Monday
After a weekend of viewings I relax into the morning with breakfast at Gail's. Fast forward to lunch and an incoming phone call from a concerned client who's requesting urgent assistance: whilst home alone, two aggressive, unsavoury door knockers entered her property and she needs help ensuring they leave! I'm straight in the car to jet over to her house, first ringing two other team members for back up and then moving an appointment. I arrive and whilst they're intimidating they make their exit when Team H&G arrives. We note their license plate and the police take a statement. The adrenalin rush is exhausting but I'm elated my client is safe and her home is now secure.

Tuesday
You never know who you'll meet on viewings. Today brought an unexpected surprise - an international DJ registered under a pseudonym which of course I didn't realise until we were face to face! I showed him several properties and he invited me to his gig in the evening at XOYO in Shoreditch. A standard Tuesday turned into an exceptional and truly memorable evening out!

Wednesday
John Horton and I start each Wednesday with an early morning spin session at the Hogarth Health Club followed by a delicious and healthy working breakfast at HHC's Crucial Cafe where we review the week behind us and plan the week ahead. There's never a dull moment - between our Chiswick and Hammersmith offices we agree more sales and lets than any other agency in our patch according to Rightmove statistics. I squeeze in a tennis tournament at the Hogarth which ends up doubling as a networking event as there as so many clients playing.

Thursday
I field a distressed phone call from a former client whose home I sold this spring. His colleague is selling a flat on the borders of Bedford Park but the sale has been mismanaged and is on the brink of collapse. My client asks if I'll put in a phone call and offer advice. I carve out 15 minutes at lunchtime to speak to his colleague but the conversation consumes the best part of an hour - it's one I'm happy to have. Selling is never a straightforward process and informed, honest advice is hard to come by in the property industry.

Friday
It's a very good day indeed. Today saw my clients exchange contracts at the end of an exceptionally tricky two and a half year sales journey. Where two previous agencies failed, we succeeded. Their Chiswick High Road property will soon belong to ecstatic new owners and they'll be upsizing right here in Chiswick.

Saturday
It's officially 'the depths of December' but I'm on the Raleigh Chopper for a full day of back-to-back viewings in on a mission to secure buyers for two houses that will be coming to market in January. We agree one in five sales before our listings hit property portals and I love nothing more than matching a buyer to their perfect property. I book in a last minute Sunday lunch time valuation in Grove Park. It's been a busy week but I know January will bring new meaning to the word so I'm soaking up the rare moments of peace. Saturday night is always protected as date night with my lovely girlfriend. The new year is around the corner and to quote John Horton, it's "onwards and upwards!"