Thursday, September 29, 2016
If Not Now Never - Thursday
‘So have you been searching for property long?’ I ask, gazing into the car rear view mirror trying to gauge the response. I don’t do many viewings. The sharp end of property sales is securing the instructions to sell a client’s home. But today the rest of the team are booked solid, so I have a mid-fifties couple in my motor and I’m not sure they’ve been qualified properly.
In a world of uneven demand and supply, exacerbated by a burgeoning population and several decades of ineffectual UK housing policy - and a swing door for inept, under-briefed ministers - you need to target your efforts. Such is the pull of property porn and the non-stop diet of tv programmes feeding the addiction, you could spend every working day ferrying round dreamers and fantasists without the intention, or wherewithal, to actually sign a contract on the dotted line.
‘Well we’ve looked at over fifty properties.’ Says the woman, as I catch a hint of despair in the husband’s eye. I’m not far behind him. Time-wasters are the bane of an estate agent’s life. With more buyers than sellers through the majority of the property market cycle, you can only sell each home once and spending time with people who believe they are serious, but in reality will never be the best buyer for your client’s house, is ruinous to your health - and bottom line.
‘Oh, why is that?’ I ask as neutrally as possible. This pair are booked to look at three homes with me and it will be at least ninety minutes until I can dump them back at the railway station, like some sub-Uber taxi service.
‘Well it’s you lot isn’t it.’ Continues the woman, as I hear the hint of a groan from her long-suffering partner. Terrific, not only are they getting a free guided tour round town but now the saggy-necked old goat is about to insult my profession.
‘Not now dear.’ Whisper her husband flatly.
‘Why not?’ She enquires aggressively. ‘They need to know if they’re not giving the right service.’
I feel my hackles rising. Out of towners: so no home for us to sell and no sister office where they live. No funding required and their own insurance advisor and they won’t take a solicitor introduction. That just leaves trying to source an introductory commission from the local removal van company, but as this pair have been looking to move since God’s dog was a puppy, I won’t be spending the Harrods voucher any time soon.
‘What seems to be going wrong?’ I ask, as a boy with facial hair - so old enough to know better - skateboards the wrong way down the road I’m negotiating. All I need now is some fully-formed adult, with headband, 1980’s shorts and a set of roller blades and I’ll be tempted to risk the paperwork by running them into a ditch.
‘Well you never listen to what we want.’ Whines the woman, as I wonder if I can dump them at the wrong platform just in time to see their train leave on the other side of the station. Little things and little minds.
‘What she means is by the time we hear about a suitable home you’ve usually sold it to someone else.’ Clarifies the man, in a semi-conciliatory tone. That’s because they are in a position to proceed, or at least have shown some commitment by placing their own home on the market, I think acidly.
‘Have you thought about marketing your own house first?’ I say by way of some mild entertainment as I can’t have the radio on. Of course I know the answer.
‘That’s out of the question.’ Replies the woman, true to form. ‘We won’t be rushed into anything.’ Not even after several years on everyone’s mailing list?
‘Anyway,’ she continues. ‘Very often there’s nothing as nice as our own house.’
‘Let’s see if we can change that.’ I tell her, with little enthusiasm.
‘Oh no this won’t do at all.’ Says the woman, in the first dining room. ‘We’d never fit our furniture in here. It’s completely failed the table test.’