Tom Tangney, of estate agent Knight Frank in Kensington, talks to Cheryl Markosky about how dinner in Sally Clarke’s eponymous restaurant and an evening with Santana could round off his perfect day.
Name: Tom Tangney
Company name: Knight Frank
Twitter handle: @kensington_W8
How did you start out as an estate agent? I started working for Alan Rivers, a local property entrepreneur. I was his in-house property manager looking after his Notting Hill and Chelsea portfolio.
What would you do if you weren’t an estate agent? With my knowledge of London, I’d be a taxi driver. I know all the roads and shortcuts. I even tracked a taxi once across the city – and arrived before he did.
What was the first property you sold in your area, when did you sell it and for how much? What’s it worth now? The first Knight Frank property I ever sold back in May 2000 was a house in Bedford Gardens for £1.5m. Recently, we sold an unmodernised house there for £4.8m. When done up, it will be worth about £5.5m.
If money was no object, which house or street would you most like to live in on your patch? I’d prefer a double-fronted house on Addison Road instead of a big house on Holland Park. I’d be able to drive through the front gates (and close them behind me) and have my own decent-sized garden. Houses on Addison Road aren’t too big, and they’re central and quiet. One in tip-top condition would cost approximately £50m to £60m.
Any streets or zones on your patch that are particularly hot at the moment? Any hidden gems? The area off Marloes Road, just south of Kensington High Street, is pretty active. And an individual gem is a five bedroom house we’re selling in Blithfield Street, off Stratford Road. Two houses have been combined into one, offering great lateral space. There’s a great village-y atmosphere in this district.
What are your top tips for buying, selling or letting property in the area?
Buying: Do your financial research in advance, as it’s getting harder to borrow money from lenders these days. Also, consider using a broker. This might sound like a plug, but Knight Frank Finance just sorted out a terrific deal for me at 1.5 per cent over the Bank Rate.
Selling: De-clutter and don’t over-egg the asking price. Be brave and put your property on at a price that will attract competition. You never know, rival buyers might even bid up the price.
Letting: Be as flexible as you can to tenants’ requests. And keep decoration neutral so your home appeals to a broad church.
How would you spend the perfect day off in your area? I’d kick off with a breakfast of scrambled eggs, smoked salmon and latte at Patisserie Valerie in Kensington Church Street. Then, I’d go to ‘hidden museums’ in the area, such as 18 Stafford Terrace, a late Victorian townhouse that was home to the Sambourne family. Most of the original fixtures and fittings are still intact. And I’d check out Leighton House Museum, where we held our wedding reception. Lunch would have to be at Kensington Place, which specialises in the most amazing, fresh fish. In the evening I’d grab a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. I’ve seen an eclectic mix of performances there – anything from Supertramp and Cirque du Soleil, to Santana and the Last Night of the Proms.
What’s your favourite place for dinner in your area? I’d book at table at Clarke’s, a special, small restaurant run by Sally Clarke. There’s a set menu and an incredible wine list.
If you could change one thing to make your working life better what would it be? My father was a doctor and had a ‘doctor on call’ notice on the windscreen of his car. I’d like a similar permit that says ‘agent on call’. It would give me 10 to 15 minutes grace when showing people around property. As I promote the area as an agent, why not? And speaking of parking, you can pay to park in Westminster by phone – but you can’t in Kensington. Hello, Kensington & Chelsea?
What will dominate the news in your market in 2014? The upcoming General Election in 2015. Another big issue is the uncertainty about property taxes.
What’s your motto for being a successful agent? Smile and listen.