Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Seriously, who would sell their home because a fake letter told them to?

It takes a person with a special talent to be able to annoy others despite not having any direct contact with them. In my world that unique honour goes to estate agents. Why is it that anything to do with property brings out the worst in people?

Sadly, estate agents are a necessary evil. Even with the proliferation of do-it-yourself house sales and purchases, I can accept that some people still want to go to an agent to make use of their services. ‘Go to’ being the operative phrase. But an estate agent touting for business where there is none really takes the chocolate HobNob.

In my area, they market themselves in the same way as takeaway restaurants, with endless leaflets cluttering up the letterbox. The only difference is that they do make the effort of putting their mailshots in an envelope to give the impression that it is actually a real letter. Sometimes, rarely, they do the research to find out the name of the addressee. Most times they can’t be bothered and simply address it to ‘The Occupier’.

And no matter which company they come from, these missives are all along the same lines: “We have qualified applicants looking for a property just like yours.” Really? Have they actually seen my flat? Was that them I caught looking in my windows? I’m sure that if they saw the newspaper and book-strewn rooms and weird layout I call home, they’d change their minds.

I’m beginning to suspect they all coordinate their efforts specifically to piss me off. There is often a brief, deceptive quiet spell before you get deluged with attempts to convince you to sell or rent out your home. I wonder whether they genuinely believe that people will make such a major decision in the same way that they peruse menus for their dinner.

Botheration by correspondence is one thing; it is quite another when they get in my face. One of the perils of living in a flat is coming into contact with one of them when they are showing another unit. Finding one of their damned minis parked in the space that belongs to me, despite the space belonging to the flat they are showing being empty, causes me to have a reaction similar to that achieved by dunking a Gremlin in a bucket of water. It ain’t pretty.

It gets even worse when the agent doesn’t bother to lock the communal door – the same door that morons have previously attempted to force. Not a good idea with a territorial and belligerent woman in the building. I caught up with him and politely requested that he make sure the door was locked and that he stayed out of my space. He responded with excuses. I responded by loudly mentioning the attempted break-ins within hearing distance of a pair of potential renters. War!

When they’re not killing trees for their publicity or giving people the opportunity to burgle me, they still make their omnipotent presence felt with endless advertising boards. Flimsily constructed, they are the ideal plaything for many a drunkard to find and brandish as a trophy on the stagger home.

And the quality doesn’t stop there. These are highly trained professionals, aren’t they? I’d like to know exactly how much training you need for the skilled job of unlocking a front door. Not that much. The last time I made use of the services of an estate agent, I learnt that one was a bricklayer the week before and another was doing the job part time whilst studying. The high level of staff turnover that most estate agents experience is very telling. The majority of them are completely unqualified to do the job and it shows. Nice to know your biggest purchase or large piece of monthly expenditure is entrusted to such an honourable bunch then.

No one can possibly have any faith in a profession that has been the subject of repeated documentaries that blatantly exposed their fraudulent ways. I certainly can’t. But I will take the Thai takeaway menu, though. Read more by Shermaine.