A low-level groan of distaste echoes round the office, like distant thunder.
‘Well I’m not seeing them again.’ States T with finality and he vacates his desk then scuttles towards the toilets.
‘Blimey,’ I say to negotiator S with a grin. ‘Next time we replace his company car I’ll order him an Italian battle tank!’
‘What do you mean?’ Quizzes S a frown spreading across her pretty features, one’s I could wax more lyrically about than the bland pre-war semi details I’m trying to write-up.
And as the despised private sellers hesitate on the threshold, peering through the window disdainfully, I realise once again, S and I have little in common other than work.
‘More reverse gears than forward.’ I tell S realising immediately I’m the one getting bogged down, and just as I add: ‘They were supposed to be notorious cowards.’ S makes tracks herself.
‘Oh come on.’ I grizzle as she turns at the back of the office and give a fetching wave, before exiting to the ladies’ loo with a cheery. ‘Buona fortuna!’ Which I’m briefly thinking might be a new Premiership footballer as I dredge my rusty holiday phrases. Before I can retaliate with a witty, dos cervezas por favor, the door rattles and they’re in.
Agents dislike private sellers. Fact. It’s bad enough someone shipping-up whose sold with the opposition, as clearly it’s a missed opportunity for a lucrative double-deal. But at least you can verify their ability by checking the chain via your competitor. Unless they are completely useless – and granted plenty are – you can trace the number of people in the transaction, talk to lawyers and lessen the chance of your deal collapsing, due to the inability of a third party.
‘Good morning,’ I trill pasting the false smile across my features before hitting them with a nice open. ‘And how may I help you today?’ It’s less likely to offend and garner another complaint to head office than a curt: Piss-off you wasters we’ve nothing for you.
‘I don’t suppose you can.’ Sneers the husband to a nod of approval from his sour-faced wife. I can see why they sold privately. Notwithstanding their imagined saving on commission, only the desperate agents would be chasing their business after they undoubtedly milked several free valuations, before sticking their ghastly home made flag board up.
‘We’re on your mailing list already.’ Snaps the man when I ask for their details. They’re almost certainly not, at least not in our hot buyers section. People like this only get a call when we’re desperate to shift a pile that’s sticking, or about to lose a sole agency. With a waning grin that’s beginning to make my teeth ache, I gently ask again for the information.
‘What is it with you people?’ The woman spits angrily, taking the words right out of my mouth, but she grudgingly supplies what I need.
Then I ask for their position.
‘We’ve sold.’ Announces the woman smugly.
‘Oh good, exchanged contracts?’ I press mischievously.
‘No, of course not.’ Interjects the man. ‘Because you people can’t find us anything as nice as ours.’
‘Sold privately though,’ taunts the woman gratingly. ‘Saved thousand in commission.’
Not if you don’t move, I think sourly.
‘And your buyer’s position?’ I probe, looking for the information and credibility fellow professionals’ would normally supply
‘They definitely want ours.’ Says the woman dismissively.
‘Survey done and mortgage offer out then?’ I ask knowing full well the answer. And the atmosphere becomes as prickly as a blind man in a cactus farm.
‘You just all close ranks don’t you?’ Snarls the husband as they rise to leave empty-handed. And I can’t help myself.
‘I’ve someone who’ll pay up to £400k in your road.’ I tell the couple not altogether inaccurately. I know it’s a full forty grand more than they were probably offered, which means they might have undersold.
‘If you don’t test the market fully, it can sometimes be a false economy selling privately.’ I conclude to a shuddering doorframe.
I can’t understand why people don’t like us.