The Inside Edge
If there’s one thing snow does it’s make London look clean. Covers all sorts of grubbiness, is a great leveller and there’s nothing anybody can do to stop it. You could probably say all that about the inspired decision by someone to finally ban Estate Agents boards across large swathes of central London.
When I started in this business you couldn’t go into certain streets, like Ifield Road next to Chelsea’s football ground, without being blown away by the sheer number of agent’s boards. As an example, boards in that street were a major blight and no one wanted to live there, hence more tried to sell, hence more boards and so on. Some bright spark in the late 80s finally banned them in Conservation areas but left other big chunks of Victorian and Edwardian homes open to infection and abuse. Early this year ironically someone somewhere missed a deadline to renew the Conservation area regulations and for a ghastly moment boards were allowed anywhere. Luckily only the usual blaggers decided to risk the wrath of residents and erect signage in streets that had hitherto enjoyed decades of delicious virginity.
The venom with which said residents responded, and this is typical of the general behaviour of aforementioned blagging estate agents – they simply don’t give a sh*t, meant that the authorities actually decided not only to put things back as they were pre balls up, but to actually extend the ban throughout most of central London.
The result is likely to mean hordes of Japanese tourists can now take shots of our beautiful central London houses without their rellies back home wondering who the hell ***t*** or ****d are. It means that local residents have their streets back and are no longer as likely to be conned by the local agent who worries less about which local residents they piss off and more about putting up as many boards up as possible.
The ban IS policed which is good and it would be reassuring to think that this is a precursor of a wider decision to do away with them altogether.
In the meantime get out and enjoy unsullied streets for the first time in a generation and don’t be afraid to report the minority of agents who’ll continue to flout the new regulations. Feel like the school sneak there a bit, but actually the idea of sellers being persuaded that the placement of a few £6 boards denotes heavy market presence has, for years, allowed the real fringe of our industry to get a foothold, and this might just mean they’re walking on ice for a change.
Ed Mead is a regular contributor to The Big Property List blog. He has been an estate agent for over 30 years, and has been writing and commentating on the market for over half of that as the Sunday Times Property Expert and The Agent Provocateur for the Telegraph. He sits on the Board of The Property Ombudsman Ltd, has a regular LBC slot, and is happy to say it as it is.