Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Release Me - Tuesday

I’m sitting in a late-middle aged couples’ lounge, with a tea tray, best china and some enticing looking biscuits. These are good signs. Most people despise estate agents and wouldn’t give you the time of day, let alone some freshly-brewed darjeeling, the Royal Doulton and chocolate Hob-Nobs.

‘We called you in because we’ve used you before.’ Says the husband with a warm smile. Yes you did sir, and I remember. I might struggle with siblings’ birthdays and wedding anniversary dates, but I pretty much remember every client I’ve ever dealt with.

‘And we trust you.’ Adds the wife warmly. I sit back in the glow of unaccustomed appreciation. Hopefully they won’t quibble too much when it comes to the sole agency fee. Not that I’ll rip these nice people off. I just know they’ll be prepared to pay a fair fee for a good job. Those who’ve moved home a few times know the value a good agent can bring to the smooth conclusion of a sale, in an often fraught marketplace.

‘You’ve been around the block a few times.’ Continues the wife. ‘ Not like some of these kids in shiny suits.’ Okay, that’s probably enough praise now.
‘We wanted someone who knows the ropes and will give us straight answers. You’re long-enough in the tooth not to try all that sales and smokescreens bullshit.’ Adds the husband, leaning forward to pour the tea.

I sit back and sip the brew, waiting for them to speak. Silence can be a strong weapon in a sales situation. Too many of these, fresh out of school unqualified youngsters, forget it can be better to listen. They just talk at the potential client without engaging. I’ve done the walk round the house, have some provisional details ready to draw-up and a price in mind. Prior preparation, prevents poor performance.

‘Of course we really don’t want to move.’ Says the wife, with a shrug. I just manage not to spray their off-white carpet with milky tea.
‘You don’t?’ I splutter , hesitantly. Surely this isn’t another fool’s errand? If these people just want an insurance valuation and are too tight to pay for one, I might actually soil their carpet.

‘You see we keep seeing these adverts on daytime television.’ Says the husband by way of incipient explanation.
Funeral plans for those not suspecting a sudden death, by way of angry estate agent? I think absurdly.
‘And there must be a catch.’ Adds the wife.
Of course there is lady, it’s daytime television. They’re not appealing to anyone lucid and in gainful employment.

‘What do you know about equity release?’ Asks the husband, finally revealing why I’m here. Obviously most financial advisors now charge for advice - and if they don’t you have to ask questions about the product they are advising you purchase. This pair want the benefit of my long property experience for the price of a cuppa and some of McVitie’s finest. 

People who haven’t saved sufficiently for their retirement and think the uplift in property prices is the answer to their financial incontinence, see this wheeze as a way to stay in their home and fund a few round the world cruises and party lifestyle, until the health gives up. The debt is often the disappointed beneficiaries’ problem. 

‘You realise you are just deferring the interest cost and have no method of repaying it other than selling up when you can no longer cope with the house.’ I say cautiously. I already come across families in distress from the last time this method of ‘free-money’ from you home was popular. Elderly people who didn’t think they’d live as long and now are being pressed to sell to repay a long-spent loan, for a kitchen and a Saga holiday. The next big miss-selling scandal?

‘But we can have all this money and stay in our home.’ Counters the wife. Until they ask for it back or the interest wipes out any equity you have left and gives your children a debt to repay along with the funeral costs, I ponder sourly.

‘So you don’t really get something for nothing.’ Concludes the husband at the door.

Only me.


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