Planes are seen… but hardly heard
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.