After many years in the property industry I thought it time to reflect on my experiences and the people I have met.
The young estate agent: a raging mess of hormones and conflicting interests. They talk the market up like a puppy but weep at night as without a correction they will never be a FTB (see below) themselves. Have been known to choose flight over fight and go off to sell private jets, because that’s a well-diversified industry.
The middle aged estate agent: the ultimate fantasists. Their most valuable asset is their house, their only source of income a buoyant property market. Even when the four horses of the apocalypse arrive (interest rates rises, SDLT, over supply, no Chinese buyers) they’ll be talking up the market.
The retiring estate agent: cynical and fatalistic, but they can afford to be. They have bought wisely over the years buying townhouses long ago for less than their junior colleagues paid for a studio. Also incredibly smug if they sold their company to one of the big firms at the top of the market.
Provincial town estate agent: in choppy waters and burdened with exorbitant rightmove fees. Best case scenario is a cameo appearance on Homes Under the Hammer.
The buying agent: charming and knowledgeable but, despite their claims, they always act in their own best interests. Supposedly essential in a rising market so you don’t overpay and in a falling market to identify the bargains but ultimately their income is based on transaction numbers. My advice is to go on an expensive holiday, spend half your time online investigating your chosen market and buy yourself. It’ll be cheaper.
The first time buyer: a rare species (especially if they graduated during the GFC or since). Almost totally reliant on Bank of Mum & Dad or Help to Buy. The former will mean Zone 2 (so their parents can come and stay without being stabbed), the latter will mean anywhere with a hipster coffee shop nearby. So anywhere from Zones 1 to 8.
The bargain hunter: disparagingly known as bottom feeders. They are the fish following whale carcass as it falls to the ocean floor. At first they watch, then they nibble at a few pieces of flesh. Before long the sharks are ripping the prime cuts of blubber off and no one can stop them.
The West End retail agent: the first time their email address appeared on an empty shop front to invite enquiries was a proud moment. The fact it is still there 18 months later does not bode well.
The office agent: in a world of big deals it has always been feast or famine. The famines last longer and their stomachs are not ready for the feasts. Tendency to fall off the wagon.
The Head of Property Research: stuck between a rock and a hard place. Do they logically explain their research and how the market is set to flatline (at best) or do the obediently bow to their residential department and shareholders and fudge the figures. Ultimately they just sugar coat bad news and issue a disclaimer.
The recruiter: probably someone who considered a career in property or had one before being put off by the Saturday work. Finds amusement in exaggerating commissions to naïve candidates; rash when their lifeboat too is holed below the water line.
The in-house recruiter: the nemesis of the agency recruiter. The ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper hell bent on obstructing his former colleagues doing any business.
The solicitor: Either from a city firm and heavy handed about clause 16.1.a.ii of a lease or from a provincial firm and utterly uncontactable, condescending to estate agents and with a chip on their shoulder that they haven’t achieved more with all their qualifications.
The mortgage broker: *spoiler alert* These are some of the few goods guys, often seen as an unnecessary expense but actually bastions of honesty and accuracy. They normally charge the bank for their fee, they’ll most likely find you a better rate and if they don’t they won’t force their product on you. Keep a good one saved in your phone for when interest rates rise.
The Agricultural College graduate: with nepotism frowned upon and even Strutt & Parker having a diversity drive their prospects are not good. They will not be Senior Partners and CEOs like the class of 1976.
The family office CFO: recently recruited to hold the purse strings. The books don’t balance and the assets have been bought on a whim rather than wisdom. The only option is to dig out of the hole with more spending, but after some analysis this time.