View from a Penthouse in Canary Wharf
Peter has a colleague who lives in N.J. and works in London from Monday to Thursday. You read correctly. Ed, that’s his name, flies in every Monday morning goes straight to work, works in London until Thursday night and flies back to N.J. on Thursday night. Then he works out of the N.J. office on Friday, spends the weekend with his family and starts all over again on Sunday night. CRAZY!!!
Ed is tired of the corporate apartment and has decided to look for a place to call home. Ed’s family, his wife and three kids, will also come to visit more often, Spring break, Summer break etc….this way, Ed won’t have to travel as much and his family can get to know London.
Since I just went to this process recently, Ed asked if I minded going around with the relo agent and his wife Rebecca. He was interested in our neighborhood. This is why I spent the last week with Rebecca visiting flats/houses in the Sloane Square/South Ken/Gloucester Rd area. I also gave her some of my experience on dealing with a relo agent here in UK. In short, the relo business is not really big and the agents don’t seem to care. You have to be very proactive. Research online, give the listings you are interested in to the agent and have her/him book the viewings. There are no lock boxes in UK. The agents have to go get the keys from the listing agent or ask the listing agent to be present if you want to see a place. Sometimes it’s really hard to get into a place. Another interesting factor is Foxtons. Foxtons is a realty company. They are big and according to the other realty companies they don’t play nice, they are too arrogant. If you want to see something listed with Foxtons you have to call them directly. Once you are on Foxtons radar guess what, they do something that us North Americans are used to, they give you client service! Remember this little tidbit.
Day 1: Monday I met Rebecca and we walked around South Ken/ Sloane Square to see some of the properties we had seen on-line but just the exterior. We looked at how long from Tube station to house, what shops are around etc…we walked almost 11 miles.
Day 2: We meet an agent at one of the properties on Cornwall Gardens. Nice, furnished but old, dated, and £975 a week. Then we go see a Mews. It was a dump! £975 a week. At that point I asked Rebecca what her budget was again because she had told me £1300 a week. I was wondering why the agent was making us waste time with these dumps. The agent said she had no idea that Rebecca’s budget was £1300, she was told by HR around £1100. Finally, she showed us the third and last property of the day, a nice house 3 minutes from Gloucester Rd tube. It ticked off a lot of the boxes but it was only the third property, we wanted to see more. The agent told us that’s all she had for the day and that now that she knew the real budget, she was going to go back to the office and look at listings. Rebecca was very disappointed that she only had 3 properties to view. She told the agent that she was only here for one week and she needs to see more than 3 a day.
When we left the relo agent I told Rebecca that we were going back to my place to regroup and take matters into our hands. We looked on-line and included Foxtons listings. We sent an email, using my email, to get information on one of them and within the hour we had a call from them. This listing was in Canary Wharf . Nice 3 bedrooms (double bedrooms) penthouse apartment with separate washer and dryer, etc…She could go view the flat and others in that building at 6 pm that night.
Day 3: Wednesday morning, by the time I came back from my morning run around 8:40, I had 3 emails from 3 different Foxtons agents. Almost at the same time, Rebecca called me, Knight Frank had heard she and Ed went to see a listing in Canary Wharf and guess what, they had 4 more listings to show her in my neighborhood. We spent the early afternoon with the relo agent to view these and then the next couple of hours, we cheated on the relo agent with the Foxtons agent. On our way to Foxtons Rebecca asked me, “Can we go to Starbucks and get a coffee?” I told her not to worry, we’ll get to Foxtons 15 minutes early, they will offer us a cappuccino, some water, etc… Of course, that’s exactly what happened, we sat there for 15 minutes while the agent was making last-minute calls about the keys and we enjoyed a really nice cappuccino, and before we left in the Foxtons Mini Cooper we were offered a flat/sparkling water. Now that’s service! I think English people call this arrogant and pushy, I call this pretty cool. We saw 5 different properties, 2 were good contenders.
Day 4: Ed met us on Thursday morning to see two more properties and I asked to see the house that we saw the first day. The house was a good contender but in the end Ed and Rebecca decided to go back to Canary Wharf to see the penthouse apartment again and after dinner I received a text saying they had signed the Canary Wharf and could she take me for lunch on Friday.
Day 5: I met Rebecca for lunch and celebrated her next visit. I can’t wait to be invited for the BBQ!
The reason I bring up UK sizes is Rebecca was looking for a furnished flat or one with at least some furniture. Most of the ones we saw had beds. At one point Rebecca asked me, if this is a King what is a Queen? I had to set her straight. I replied “If you move to UK they don’t have Queen beds. This is how the sizes for sheets go. The single is a single, the double is a double, the Queen is a King and the King is a Super King and don’t ever think you will see a California King, they don’t exist here!” She just laughed and asked me to go with her buy sheets once she moves here. Ikea here I come.