Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Storm Chaser - Tuesday

In to the office comes a habitual looker, the type who is forever second-guessing the market but rarely commits to buying something. I’ve seen many over the years, those who bought and had their fingers burnt, others who can’t afford a home at any price but still like to dream and one’s like this irritating prig. He has been waiting to buy at the bottom of the market. He’s still waiting.

‘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.’



Max said...

If someone spoke to me like that in my office I'd ask them to leave. It's not losing business if they're never intending to buy anything and the only purpose they seem to serve is to demotivate and depress your staff.

Green Hornet said...

House Price Crash sends it's regards *wave*

Al said...

Good post. Is it true you have the hardest job in the world - defending the indefensible? ;=)

I often wonder how the Emperor felt about the bloke who told him he had no clothes. I've never found my bosses like that sort of 'observation' either.

secret agent said...

Emperors and little emperors never like being told they are naked Hotairmail, it's why I have to write anonymously...

Anonymous said...

3 times average earnings to buy a house = functioning market.

6.5 times average earnings to buy a
house = non-functioning market.

Seems like SA finally understands.

Somethings got to give...probably!

Anonymous said...

If you look closely, below my post you will see the smallest violin in the world.

jonathan davis said...

The guy was stupid to even try to argue with you. What a waste of everyone's time. Of course he was right in waht he was saying.

BTW - 'my friends at HPC'???

Anonymous said...

Struggle to understand the vitriol from SA. I've enjoyed your posts for many years, but I'm scratching my head with this one.

I gave up asking for info from Estate Agents when I got a cold shoulder. Silly really, when I find a decent house for a decent price, I'll buy - no collapsing chains.

I do wonder how many EAs take a backhander for keeping repos off the market, well minimising advertising anyway. The expectation is that the house goes to BTL portfolios, builders etc.

A few that I've bid on have come to my attention through unusual means, mates talking, walking around - seeing a sign even when I'm signed up to the same agents mailing list, have done visits to same EA and talked through what I'm looking for.

Like many (soon most?) people - I realise how much of a bubble property has been in and when I buy a HOUSE for me and my family, I want to feel secure in it, knowing I can afford it and to RUN it.

Anonymous said...

So people who want to buy a house at a salary multiple that was available just ten years ago are not to be trusted with children...

Taking things a bit far, isn't it?

Mr P said...

Maybe SA has over egged it, but if I was expecting a bargain right now I wouldn't step foot in an estate agents without knowing some background on the seller. At the moment many people aren't 'sellers' and can sit tight dreaming about the 'value' of their homes - just look at how long some places have been on Rightmove for…these are the ones to blame for most of the problems on the way up and on the way down.

Meanwhile those that want/need to sell are setting the real market & sale prices, and from what I can see they are gradually drifting down, but not at 'crash' speeds.

Of course, as a bean counter will tell you, estate agents need transaction volume, not one or two high value sales a year, so the sooner they get to a long term sustainable level enabling more sales the better.

Btw SA, I think you'll find HPC consider you a paragon of virtue in the Estate Agent world. Well, there has to be at least one ;)

GD said...

Although I agree that this guy seems a bit of an ass, I can't understand why you seem to think that he is so odious when you know he's right.

In my own experience I've had agents talk up prices ridiculosly on both sides of the deal, and refuse to make offers to their clients that they tell me won't be accepted as 10% lower than asking is 'derisory' (even when prices are falling and they have not dropped for 2 years or more, so it is very clearly over priced). I've also had agents make up fictitious offers to gain business and make it sound like there is interest that doesn't exist. So I can understand some of his mentality too!

Something is going to have to give sometime soon, as I've never seen a market that is so well and truly sh*gged as it is right now. If it was not for the banks putting pressure on the government to keep housing policy tight and subsidising the feckless through support schemes and avoidance of repossession then it might have a chance.

Until it corrects, as painful as it will be, then you might as well get used to people like this as there will be more and more of them. In a few months you may be happy for their custom.

Why not do something useful, like finding him a bargain he might actually buy?

Anonymous said...

Heh heh, we are not all nutters on HPC. Many of realise the Estate Agents are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to pricing vendors houses.

Your blog rocks and I love reading it.

Anonymous said...

Loving the debate! From my reading of it, I thought SA was right to be dismissive as he knows the guy personally as a time-waster from previous experience - a new customer I imagine would have received a more positive service, like any business would do.

We have a guy who comes into our office every week just to have someone to talk to, he's nice enough but would I treat him the same way as a new customer? No.

Rock on SA!

Timm said...

Well, I post on HPC a bit, and was an EA myself for ten years.

EAs do try and sell at the highest price - as an agent it is your legal duty to act in the best interest of your client. That is the seller, not the buyer.

It seems to me that SA knows the customer is right about the market and understands that more affordable prices would mean more sales and more commission, but does not like being insulted in his place of work. ho would?

BTW, Me and the missus bought a house recently. All the local agents dismissed us as having unrealistic asperations, but we didn't care because we have the internet and can work RightMove.

And it wasn't a repo or a probate, but it was a motivated seller.

The Sussex Idler said...

It's a shame GD didn't report the agents making up offers or the ones who refused to put them forward - Trading Standards would have been very interested:It's illegal. As for Anonymous' comment on agents taking back handers not to offer repossessions, they are pressed hard to advertise right to exchange of contracts & even advertise the best offer they have received. Again, go to Trading Standards.

scepticus said...

Ha ha, great post. I found it pretty funny.

The vast majority of HPC-ers have been on the wrong side of right for a very long time.

- an HPC-er.

Anonymous said...

Love the way this mimimum wage gob-shite draws assumptions on someone with money.... Can't be that the guy might have had a good job invested wisely and didn't get conned during his lifetime... No must be a misser!

Judgmental cunt

Anonymous said...

Not really sure what your problem is Anonymous, the guy is a serial time-waster? Or do you just read what you want to read so you can have a rant? How is your subscription to the Daily Mail going?

Opinionated Hunt, Berkshire

GD said...

Oh I did... and they told me they knew about it (quite common apparently) but wouldn't do anything meaningful unless I could prove it.

And by the way SA, I did forget to say I love your blog! It's nearly as funny as reading HPC :-)

Anonymous said...

Ahh the internet always brings out the worst in people. Never fear SA, we're with you until the bitter end/office closure!

Anonymous said...

Time waster fact.


Natalie Johanson said...

He may be a time waster but actually has a point there too. People struggle and collect enough cash to buy and when the time comes they realize the price has escalated and you have to earn another year to two to be a victim of another price hike.

jonathan davis said...

Not anymore Natalie. have you not noticed, prices are the same in London and SE as 4 years ago and 20-50% down elsewehere in UK?

djia977 said...

Great (and funny) article as per usual. I wouldn't bother with the HPC tunnel-visionaries. They've been 'lookers' looking for a house price crash for years with no joy. Keep it up SA.

jonathan davis said...

Ah the words of the anonymous.

DJIA: who coulkd possibly have realised the corruption and partisanship with the reckless and the corrupt that we have seen by successive govts. However, it is finite. Even with the lowest int rates in history prices are falling, just. That will continue - at best. Then rates will rise again.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the top 10 finish in the website awards SA, get the mortgage man to release some funds for a pint!

Barry Bonds