Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

The Scorpion #1 An insider's take on the business of buying and selling property

The Agent

This is the first of a series of columns written by a residential estate agent about residential property. I have adopted a pseudonym because I am employed, and I would like, if necessary, to separate my views from those of my employers. I would also very much like to keep my job.

It would be fanciful to imagine that you are all scratching your heads, asking yourselves “but who can he or she be, this writer who so pretentiously insists on remaining anonymous?” Well, a lot of you know me already. I’m the guy (all right, I’ll give you that much), who broke the bad news to you that you had been outbid on that apartment you loved, (or ‘gazumped’ you, as you later put it). I’m the one who later didn’t value your house for as much as you’d hoped, which meant no-one wanted to buy it, (or something, the details aren’t important). That guy! It’s a shame they couldn’t get the guy who sponsored your children’s school fete for commercially dubious reasons – I know you really liked that guy. Or the one who you bumped into at a barbecue once, who told the brilliant story about the bloke who bought the wrong flat by mistake, and no-one noticed for years. He would have been brilliant.

Anyway, you’re stuck with me.

I’ve been valuing and selling residential properly for longer that is strictly decent, and I’ve been asked to try and shed light on the whole ghastly business of buying and selling property without ruining anyone’s day. I started in the era of telex machines, and now if anyone wants to get in touch with me, they have so many methods at their disposal that I feel violated sometimes. Ironically, if someone really wants to get my attention they could do a lot worse than to write me a letter, although I appreciate that very few have the requisite skills to either compose it, or get it delivered before the lease they wanted to discuss has expired.

Today I work with a charming and eclectic group of agents (we never call them ‘estate agents’; ‘agents’ sounds so much more mysterious. There’s just the hint of possibility someone may think I work for MI5). They tend to be young (cultural references to guitar-based bands are usually met with derision), and hard-working.

There is a very wide range of intellectual capacity. Being bright, in and of itself, is no guarantee of success. And yes, I admit, being thick is no guarantee of failure either. Successful agents come in many guises and, having interviewed a stack of them over the years I can say with some degree of confidence, that I am a very poor judge of what makes a good one. I daresay others will claim to know the secret formula (recruitment companies especially), but I say ‘bullshit!’

Our Partners