Wednesday, November 21, 2012

View To A Kill - Wednesday

My mobile rings as I battle the traffic to get back to the office. Needless to say I haven’t remembered to stuff the ugly bluetooth earpiece device in the side of my head – I’m still not convinced it doesn’t irradiate the few brain cells that haven’t been permanently damaged by this job.

‘Really?’ I ask the empty car, as I see the office number flashing insistently. There was a time in the late eighties when I thought it was the height of cool to have a brick-like cellular phone clamped to the centre consol of my Ford Orion Ghia, now I detest the 24/7 availability mobile communications provide. I check the traffic and scan for any police cars. Can I risk a sneaky conversation, or should I try and double park to take the call?

‘Yes?’ I say curtly as I make sure I’m not about to plough into a woman with pushchair on a pedestrian crossing. Estate agents already get enough bad publicity.
‘Where are you boss?’ Asks trainee F via a crackling connection. In the car you cretin crosses my mind but sarcasm doesn’t travel well over the airwaves, plus I’m not sure if cretin is an allowable term of endearment for staff any longer. There must be a memo somewhere.

‘Can you do a quick add-on viewing at Mrs Brown’s house?’ Asks F after I’ve given him my location – still moving slowly but in full control of the car officer. My mind whirs in time with the nagging sound from under the bonnet, possibly a water pump I’ve been told. But the prospect of sitting in the grubby main dealer’s service area drinking molten-plastic-laced instant coffee and reading back copies of the local property paper while some oik in overalls takes an hour to tell me the part isn’t in stock, just makes me want to weep.

I can’t for the life of me remember who Mrs Brown is. I know every property but the names elude me after all this time. I ask for the address and another dilemma presents itself. We need a viewing rather urgently on Mrs Brown’s home. Nobody has looked in over a month of marketing. One of the main gripes about agents once they have the home to sell is lack of contact. I urge staff to call clients once a week – the rather racily titled, but actually none too pleasurable, vendor contact – only after four weeks of excuses and no punters the calls become uncomfortable. There’s only so many times you can promise another advert and say the market will pick up once the kids are back at school.

‘Give me the details.’ I tell F reluctantly, stopping alongside a delivery van hazard lights flashing, back door flung wide open. I jot down the viewers name and the appointed time and check F has ensured Mrs Brown will be there. We don’t have a key and it wouldn’t be the first time the imbecile has sent another staff member to a home we don’t have access to. Viewers can get pretty pissy if all they can see is a widescreen view of the hall via the letterbox alongside an assurance that it’s very nice inside too.

‘Glad to finally have someone coming to look.’ Announces Mrs Brown a little frostily, once I’ve arrived ten minutes early and gone inside to complete this week’s vendor contact – without the touchy-feely bit obviously. She’s overweight and over fifty and even estate agents have some standards.
We bat some rather stiff small talk back and forth as I notice she’s vacuumed the carpets and sprayed something fresh smelling round the lounge in the time it took her to rush home from work.

The best time to sell a home is when it’s new to the market. A month of marketing means price, position and those ghastly pot plants out front are putting people off. In Mrs Brown’s mind though it’s doubtless my fault.

‘They’re not coming are they?’ She finally asks twenty minutes after the arranged time and five minutes after I’ve run out of excuses.

Once again my profession drops below journalist on the most hated list. It was good while it lasted.

An estate agent and a columnist - not a popular mix but take a free peek at the book anyway.

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