Friday August 26, 2005
Estate agents are wholly responsible for their own bad name, at least they are here in rural England. I encountered a classic example of their shady approach to business methods today in the form of a bright orange leaflet shoved into my mail box early in the morning:
HELP!! HELP!! HELP!! HELP!!
“Lawks, Dolly,” I said. “Haven’t seen one of these for years. I thought they were disallowed under the estate agents’ Voluntary Code of Practice.”
Dolly regarded me solemnly and then, instead of walking away in a huff as she would normally do, she gave me a great yowl and sat there, looking at me.
“You don’t mean it?” I asked.
The stare continued, if anything increasing in intensity.
“Oh well, if you say so. It’s a con, but it might be worth a giggle.”
So I picked up the phone, punched in the number for — [not my present agent] and spoke to either P. or K., explaining about the leaflet and that I had a property exactly in location and of type as they required for their Mr. M.
“I’ll put you on to our sales department straight away.”
After a spirited rendition of tinkly electronic Bach some other lady answered, identifying herself as either P. or K., and asked for some details.
“We’re rather busy at the moment,” she said. “The earliest we can get to you for a valuation is September 5.”
“But, what about your Mr M., who must find a property today?”
“As I say, we’re very busy.”
I amended the mental ‘lady’ honorific I’d used to something close to but not exactly like ‘woman’. In my experience no lady would lie to my face, not even over the telephone. Nor be party to a falsehood. Anyway, thinking it’d fill an idle hour, I made the appointment and bade the mendacious female good day.
“There you are, Dolly,” I said. “I told you it was a con.”
This time she did walk away in a huff, which some would say ought to have been the end of the matter.
Sitting thinking about it, though, I slipped into a devil-may-care mood. Working along the lines of nothing to lose, I picked up the phone again, fired our present agent, and made an appointment for valuation with the one I have a feeling we should have been with all along. While we’ve been bound by contract to the present agents I’ve been struck by the absence of ‘SOLD’ signs in their name while, at the same time, increasingly impressed by the number of properties marked as sold by the new ones. I’m not easy to impress when it comes to estate agents but I admit freely that the sudden appearance of a ‘SOLD’ sign outside our house would do the job nicely.
Then, buoyed up by the thought that I had actually done something, I went out to do some gentle gardening, trimming the grassy edges along the back fence. Lovely, gentle, peaceful activity, and an hour in the fresh air did me the world of good. Funny thing, that. Fresh air is one thing I simply don’t associate with estate agents.