Insulted, vilified, pursued by livestock, electrocuted and propositioned, estate agents are as popular as wasps at a barbecue. But do they really deserve their public image?
No, they don’t, says Rosalind Russell, who for eight years edited The Diary of an Estate Agent column for the London Evening Standard’s Homes & Property section. She mined a rich seam of funny, entirely true stories, some of which were so bizarre, she was sometimes suspected of making them up. She didn’t!
Eternal optimists, estate agents approach every Spring with renewed hope that this year the market will steady, buyers will blossom, lenders will lend and politicians will stop coming up with lunatic schemes like taxing ‘toff’ mansion owners or homes with a view.
The extraordinary characters and events which cause mayhem in the lives of ordinary estate agents show this much-maligned industry in an entirely different light. Rarely credited for their diplomacy and fortitude, they are often squeezed between tight targets and even tighter sellers. You might even begin to feel sorry for them.
For example, Rosalind tells the tale of a young, unmarried estate agent who returned from a valuation, his ears glowing a telltale pink. Apparently he’d rung the bell and the door was opened by the owner who was breast-feeding her baby. Flustered, he’d followed her into the lounge, which was dominated by a large and ornate fireplace.
Inevitably, the first words out of his mouth were “What a lovely breast! Chimney! I mean chimney breast.” Apparently the nursing mother was quite amused but the estate agent took some time to recover!
On another occasion an estate agent went to value a 1930s house, owned by Mr and Mrs T. “We eventually reached the dining room, where, above a large oak drinks cabinet, hung a painting of Mrs T, leaning casually on a bookcase, completely naked. ‘What a lovely drinks cabinet!’ I exclaimed. What else could I say?”:
Rosalind Russell has been a property journalist for more than 20 years so, understandably, there are many ‘surprising’ stories. Accompanying cartoons are by Merrily Harpur.
Confessions of an Estate Agent can be obtained as an e-book by Forgotten Titles. Download from Amazon for £4.95
More information: www.amazon.co.uk