‘Not that twat.’ Hisses assistant manager T as he sees the door open. I look up from the office diary to see how T will handle him and hear the door to the gents bang. T has disappeared faster than bacon sandwiches at a breakfast meeting. The man is looking at me expectantly.
‘How are you?’ I open, making the man realise I remember him but not giving him the validation of his name – particularly the one we use.
‘On the lookout for a bargain.’ He opens sitting at a vacant desk without bidding, He won’t be getting a free coffee. Not on my watch.
‘Do you have any repossessions coming in?’ Continues the man, jabbing away at his BlackBerry as though he’s something more than a frustrated speculator with too much time on his hands. The question riles me; with its assumption homes snatched back from defaulting borrowers will be sold on the cheap. The lender has a duty in law to get the best possible price. The figure they eventually sell for is often a reflection of reality, plus if the departing occupier stripped the kitchen and bathroom out it rather limits getting top dollar – eating and bathing can be a challenge too.
‘You lot are to blame for these unrealistic prices.’ Continues the man unpleasantly as I try to hide my irritation, something I should be good at by now but my skin seems to be getting thinner with age. I’ll have to be careful not to take any more tumbles this year, or I’ll split-open like those pensioners who hit the cracked paving stone outside the office. Man do they bleed.
I make a less than spirited defence, citing market forces and supply and demand. The man scoffs at me in derision, just as fat mortgage man M comes through the door face attached to a pasty like that scene from Alien. M takes one look at my man and starts gesticulating ludely with his free hand. M tried to offer him financial advice when we first registered the guy as an applicant but needless to say he is a ‘cash’ buyer. Cash that nobody has ever seen and is probably stashed under his childhood bed in the house he lives in with his mother.
‘The market is over-valued by at least 30%.’ Proclaims the man. I’m guessing he has an account with my old friends at House Price Crash and a username like Gollum or Green Hornet, with an avatar picture to match. I wouldn’t let him near children or pretty pets. I also wouldn’t admit – publicly - he might have a point on prices as 50% of the homes in my window would come off the market if that came to pass, at least until they were repossessed.
‘You are all part of the discredited system.’ Continues the odious visitor, as I wonder how the bean counter boss would react to me banning another person from the office, although this one hasn’t tried to hit me yet – at least not physically. ‘You prop up unsustainable prices,’ continues the one-man depression. ‘And make it impossible for first-time-buyers to get on the ladder.’ I half-heartedly put forward an argument that if he was a current homeowner he might expect us to get him the best possible price not flog it for fifty grand less, just to help out a single mother. It doesn’t go well.
‘Utter tosser.’ Proclaims T as the man leaves empty-handed while T adjusts his trousers.
‘Are you taking him off the mailing list?’ Asks negotiator S who has witnessed the conversation, quietly observing and taking notes.
‘Don’t worry he’s not even on.’ Interjects T. ‘He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’