Saturday, April 09, 2011
Plough And Scatter - Friday
On the way back from an abortive appointment I take the long route, via a couple of roads that are perennially popular. It helps to know your patch like the back of your hand, local knowledge something overgrown companies and web based sales outlets, can never truly offer.
No matter what the market, some locations always attract interest. The road I enter now has long been one of the most sought after in town, so I’m surprised to see a couple of For Sale boards.
Most homes change hands swiftly when they come up for grabs here, with the majority of owners convinced they don’t have to stoop to something as seedy and needy as the agent’s board is perceived to be.
I’m not a big fan of touting other agent’s instructions, particularly as they’ll only do the same to your register once the tit-for-tat bad-mouthing and dubious claims of being so much better than the other outfit, starts. Besides, if they can’t sell in this road they’ve probably overpriced to eye-watering degrees.
‘Morning.’ I chirp to a couple of owners in their gardens, as I exit the car slowly, back griping. I’m rewarded with unwelcoming stares that in decades gone by might have had me checking my ethnicity, but now has me checking my flies.
One of the fastidious gardeners stops trimming their hedgerow to spirit-level-requiring rigidity and scuttles back towards their front door. The nearer of the two just eyes me suspiciously, an unspoken challenge in his body language warning me not to come towards him, no matter what my pitch is.
Well-to-do residential area mid-morning, man in a suit. It can only mean he’s selling product or God as far as most people are concerned. Granted they’ll more likely buy some over-priced tea towels from a Scouser with a shoulder bag and a sob story, than news of an impending apocalypse and the need to all gather on some high ground with like-minded weirdos, clutching prayer books and each other, but either way I’m not feeling that welcome.
‘Lovely morning.’ I offer to the man who hasn’t scuttled away. I can see him wrestling with the inherent middle class civility and the requirement to reply, but equally he clearly doesn’t want to be drawn into a conversation. I’m the same at home, but then you need to separate business from scant pleasure.
‘I don’t want anything.’ He eventually mumbles. I’m tempted to invent some improbable spiel about being from a law firm and looking for a beneficiary at his address, before hurrying away and seeing if he’ll chase me. But sometimes it’s best to let fantasy stay in your brain - or your pants.
I make my way towards the two other agents’ boards, having not parked too conspicuously close. I have a glove box full of pre-printed leaflets offering our services, all with the standard health warning about considering the existing agency agreement before appointing another firm, inserted in the small print. I won’t tap the door, that’s too blatant - at least for now.
A yappy dog barks insanely as I pop the first flyer through a tricky opening with one of those annoying draught excluder bristle bars, seemingly designed to keep it cosy for the occupiers but to expose postmen’s fingers to hungry terriers’ teeth. Then as I approach the second house, curtains twitching from at least three different angles, the door opens and a woman in her dressing gown emerges.
An awkward moment materialises as she clutches her robe and looks at the increasingly rare clutch of milkman-deposited bottles on the quarry-tiled doorstep. I proffer the tacky leaflet sheepishly, apologetic tilt to my head trying to convey I’m an upstanding property professional, not a washing line lurker.
‘Estate agent or Jehovah Witness?’ She snaps perfunctorily. I’m tempted to tell her salvation is at hand if she’ll just join me up a mountain top and wait for the flood. It’s about as believable as the, I have cash buyers waiting in the office willing to pay fifty grand over the odds, parable.
Awkward explanation over, I scuttle back to the car. She’ll call me if she needs my help, apparently.
It’ll take a miracle.