‘Does it ever feel any better? Asks negotiator S turning to me for advice, her breasts following a nano-second later. I’m momentarily distracted, before telling her with a heart heavier than her bra that it stings like a bastard every time. The work and time you’ve invested in a sale - not to mention the fee that was pumping up your pipeline income and tantalisingly imagined in your commission statement a month or two down the line - evaporating on the whim of a third party, feels like a boot to the stomach. It’s a pain that doesn’t lessen with exposure – if anything the contrary.
‘We should bill the sods when they pull the plug like that.’ Posits T. ‘They just take the piss with no sale-no fee.’ He has a point, at least when the worthless Home Information Packs were briefly in existence we could use their creation as a spurious fee generator, with a nice net profit on every one. I still hated them though.
‘It’s human nature.’ I inform the team sagely, briefly enjoying my role as a father figure if it wasn’t for the sagging stomach, waning testosterone and vanishing hairline. ‘As soon as someone accepts an offer they think they’ve sold to cheap, meanwhile the buyer is already wondering if they’ve paid too much.’
‘It’s a conundrum.’ States T and trainee F frowns that frown - and we all wait.
‘Isn’t that a board game?’ he eventually asks haltingly. And a brief but increasingly obtuse conversation bounces round the office involving Monopoly, how much you were charged for passing go, wasted days watching Countdown on daytime television and who would give Carol Vorderman one? When lettings lush B revealed her twisted take on the scenario it was a mix of vowels and consonants too far – so I called time.
Maybe I would miss this if I ever moved on? I think, as I traverse town later, three sets of keys jangling on the passenger seat. That thought lasts about ten minutes before I meet an obnoxious cash buyer couple who think their financial status entitles them to act like complete arse-holes.
‘We want money off whatever we decide to buy.’ Drawls the something-in-the city tosser, as his partner who as far as I can ascertain only contributes to the relationship horizontally, nods in pliant agreement. ‘It’s a buyers market you know,’ continues the shifty-eyed commodity purveyor, reeking of a dodgy aftershave that reminds me of my father’s Old Spice but probably cost more per ounce than Rhodium. ‘I expect a discount.’
You see people at their worst where property is concerned. Greedy, duplicitous, arrogant untrustworthy – and the public are no better. I invent a slightly spurious tale about an earlier price cut on the flat, then sensing the woman likes the proximity to some up-market shopping opportunities, concoct a couple of other viewing to follow. If a buyer thinks someone else is interested in a property it inevitably sharpens their interest – a sort of subconscious validation.
‘My finances are my own business.’ Growls city-boy when I quiz him further on funding. His offer is still derisory and the chances of signing a contract slim, but a bid is a bid and who knows in another six months time my vendor might snap his arm off. I still need to know how he’s going to pay for the flat though, as I have a duty of care and a sneaking suspicion this spivs definition of “cash” isn’t the same as mine.
‘So you need a mortgage?’ I clarify icily, after a terse exchange.
‘Yes but we’ve nothing to sell.’ Snipes the woman, as I’m tempted to point out she won’t have much to barter with in ten years time.
My client rejected the offer – not sure how much longer I can be doing with this.