Planes are seen… but hardly heard

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Property Searching -


Af­ter a week­end in Nor­folk I ar­rive at the of­fice just af­ter 8am, ready for our morn­ing meet­ing and up­date.

Barnes is known for its unique prop­er­ties and we are ex­cited to learn that we have se­cured a new in­struc­tion in The Ter­race, a much-cov­eted street with homes over­look­ing the Thames by Barnes Bridge sta­tion. We sold the two ad­ja­cent prop­er­ties last year at record prices, so this is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that suc­cess story. It’s also a key win for one of our ne­go­tia­tors, who nailed the in­struc­tion. With gen­er­ous pro­por­tions, a Ge­or­gian façade, those river­side views and scope for ren­o­va­tion, this home won’t hang around long.

I spend the af­ter­noon call­ing clients, tee­ing up pre-launch view­ings and co­or­di­nat­ing diaries. We also work on the brochure copy, as­sisted by our team co-or­di­na­tor who I rely on daily for her skills as a word­smith.


I’ve come to see the Barnes market af­ter two years here as an outer-prime equiv­a­lent to May­fair, with buy­ers rang­ing from the very lo­cal to the ex­tremely in­ter­na­tional, in­clud­ing Sin­ga­porean, Ar­me­nian and Mid­dle East­ern.

Our ex­cel­lent so­lic­i­tors in­tro­duce us to a Saudi fam­ily who were orig­i­nally search­ing for a large fam­ily home in The Bish­ops Av­enue, north Lon­don. Af­ter months of look­ing, they de­cide Barnes has the char­ac­ter they seek, and we ar­range a tour of the area for them. Barnes is a dis­creet sub­ur­ban vil­lage and that dis­cre­tion of­ten goes down well with in­ter­na­tional buy­ers.

Later, I’m im­mersed in flight plans. A ven­dor is ap­pre­hen­sive about buy­ers be­ing de­terred by air traf­fic, so we pre­pare a spread­sheet de­tail­ing flight times to demon­strate that, de­spite our prox­im­ity to Heathrow, air­craft noise is min­i­mal.


Barnes is renowned for its life­long res­i­dents — when peo­ple move in, they rarely move out. The cy­cle is on­go­ing, how­ever, and I be­gin my day on the phone to two buy­ers, both of whom work in Ca­nary Wharf. With train links from Barnes Bridge on the Over­ground tak­ing just 45 min­utes, it’s not sur­pris­ing that this is a hotspot for Dock­lands fi­nanciers.

Both are cur­rently rent­ing and in search of their for­ever fam­ily home. Fol­low­ing the stamp duty re­forms of au­tumn 2014, home buy­ers are min­imis­ing their moves. Once they get to Barnes it is com­mon to see peo­ple stay for over 20 years. With res­i­dents so com­mit­ted to the area, trans­ac­tions rarely go above 170 a year — which means we are par­tic­u­larly strate­gic when it comes to match­mak­ing prop­er­ties with buy­ers. We must think out­side the box to un­cover the best stock, and we of­ten draw on in­tel­li­gence from lo­cal res­i­dents to en­sure our port­fo­lio re­mains strong.


First meet­ing of the day is with the owner of a one-bed­room flat in a dou­ble-fronted con­ver­sion prop­erty in Castel­nau. My off-market buyer is try­ing to re­unite the prop­erty and has al­ready se­cured two of the four units, so this is the next piece in the puz­zle. How­ever,

We agree the sale of a four-bed­room town­house to­day and help the ven­dor as­sess po­ten­tial down­size prop­er­ties. She is keen to re­lease £1 mil­lion in eq­uity to split be­tween her two daugh­ters as an early in­her­i­tance. Her heart’s set on a smaller house six doors away, and I start price ne­go­ti­a­tions for her.

Strolling back to the of­fice, I spot lo­cal res­i­dents Stan­ley Tucci, the Amer­i­can ac­tor, and TV pre­sen­ter Holly Wil­loughby — not out to­gether — and I’m re­minded there is noth­ing quite like celebrity en­dorse­ment.

At 5.30, I’m off to a friend’s stag week­end in Dublin, buoyed by the week’s sales suc­cess and cer­tain a pint of Guin­ness will be wait­ing for me.

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