Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Batting For Both Sides - Tuesday
To a corporate day out at the cricket, I’m only going because the guy in Land and New Homes had a better offer, but gift horses and mouths. And yet even as I walk through the gates and flash my all areas access pass the long-buried punk rock, angry socialist feelings regurgitate like a bad kebab.
I wrestled with my conscience for years, particularly through my first property recession when the repossessions came thick and fast. I felt a bit better when I snatched back a flat a fellow, but dodgy, agent had mortgaged to the hilt. To fit the stereotype he’d sub-let illegally, hadn’t made any payments, taken the tenants money, then stripped all the fittings out days before the bailiff and I arrived. Even so, I still feel I shouldn’t be there in multi-million pound homes, or executive boxes with a dozen braying hoorays. There is a free bar though…
‘Champagne sir?’ Asks a comely waitress as I shake a few hands and apologise for the fact I’m a stand-in guest. I nod and smile, then detect a briefest flash of distaste from the girl as I grab the long-stemmed flute, dripping with condensation, and gulp down the bubbles. She’ll have to work on her facial expressions if she wants to make it in sales. The pavilion clock shows a shade after 10.30am.
‘So how’s the second hand market doing?’ Asks a hard-faced, yet curiously attractive, woman from the Developers footing the bill for the gig. She’s dressed in power skirt and jacket combo and will be thrown out of the ground if she walks on the pitch in those vertiginous heels.
‘There are deals to be done if buyer and seller are realistic.’ I tell her with a stock phrase from my mental basket of answers.
She laughs. ‘Yes, people are always bleating about the market, but we are shifting plenty of new units.’ I nod a non-committed response. ‘The trouble is the lenders are too picky on who they’ll advance to, then their valuers carp about the price.’ She continues, then pauses and looks me up and down. Briefly I wonder if she fancies me, until she says. ‘Has it always been like this?’ It must have been the bubbly. I’m as delusional as 75% of vendors.
Come the lunchtime break I’m wondering round the public areas, legs Bambi-like from free booze and not enough vol-au-vents. It feels good to be back with the public. Momentarily, I’m tempted to buy a sweaty looking hog roast in a bap, but I move on. I’m a man of the people at heart, I think, until I see the snaking queue for the gents’ toilets. I head back to the cordoned off area, nodding convivially at the dayglow-jacketed bouncer on the gateway. He gives me another unguarded look. Probably seen which box I’m in. I decide he’s one of those House Price Crash doom-mongers who sit in the same room they’ve occupied in the parents’ house for the last forty years, stalking message boards exchanging prophesies of meltdown to like-minded men in their pyjamas – all waiting for homes to become affordable.
‘There are winners and losers in all walks of life.’ Pontificates a sweaty-browed lawyer I’m sat next to on the balcony, as the number three batsman departs for a duck.
‘The trouble with all these people whining about property prices is they’re not prepared to graft.’ Continues the man, turning towards me and blasting a garlic-laced typhoon of bad breath my way. I’ve said something similar myself; after all it was never easy. But still, like the chilli and rice I opted for an hour ago, it doesn’t sit well with me. Like the time I tried to set up are new home router, I realise I’m not that good at networking. I want to go home.
‘How much introduction fee do you get from the conveyancing firms you recommend?’ Asks the lawyer earnestly, revealing his true interest in proceedings. We’re not supposed to take any secret profit without reporting it to our client nags the inner voice from a long distant man who studied the Estate Agents’ Act.
I have his business card – just in case.
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