by Mary Ellis
Are estate agents leading you up the garden path? Amusing column on the clichés they use.
|In a culture where the property market is at a low, estate agents have learnt more clichés. This is because most people are staying put on their two inch verandas, in their luxury apartments, and waiting for the situation to improve. Whilst others are snapping up bargains, renovating their recently purchased cow shed and then finding it went to auction for a reason. It’s unsellable.
However the estate agents need to sell property to keep food on their table, and may be conning you to do so.
When looking for a 1930’s period property do you search for bay windows and large proportioned rooms? Or do you hunt for a semi-detached ex-council house built in the 1930’s? In reality you’re much more likely to receive the second. So if you want the dream, learn the lingo.
Asking for ‘countryside views’ is the fastest way to remove yourself from civilisation altogether, because you’ll be living in a barn six miles away from the nearest electricity supply. The separate annexe you asked for is also there, but in the form of a well. And no, you can’t move your mother- in- law in because the troll is there. You’ll need authorised permission to get rid of him.
Some people also make the mistake of asking for ‘houses with character’, this to an estate agent means they can offload any weird property they’ve been struggling to sell onto you. Which if you question their judgement, they’ll reply with ‘It has character’. The clear subtext of this being ‘You gave us license to lumber you with this’.
If you’re looking for nightlife, you’re probably thinking of bustling cocktail bars and chic restaurants. However, the estate agent is thinking of the charming bungalow next to the parish church, which has a bingo night every Tuesday. Although this may be fun, you’re unlikely to find true love handing you a coconut macaroon.
‘Sea glimpses’ is another pothole you may walk into too. Unless you have a very powerful telescope and stand on your tiptoes with it in the bathroom, they’re probably exaggerating. If not, you’re living in a beach hut which you well overpaid for.
You should also never ask for close connections to the motorway, because unless you reverse at 100 miles per hour, you’ll never get out of the driveway, because it leads straight onto the M1. Morning rush hour will be made worse by the multi car pile-up you caused trying to execute a getaway best left to James Bond.
Your safest bet when dealing with estate agents is to give them a budget and a desired number of bedrooms. Anything else you then receive is a bonus.
You may be tempted by the option to move abroad. Which is a lovely idea, but learn the basic local language first, as the builders may mistranslate an instruction. The next thing you know, you have an underground lair perfect for Dracula. It will even come complete with a fridge full of AB positive.
Sometimes you may need to move because of your career, which often needs to be a quick move. This is when the estate agents really shine. They’ll show you all the properties you can’t afford first, and then all the hovels featured in ‘Gangsters paradise’ video. Finally just as you’re about to have a nervous breakdown, ‘the one’ is shown to you on paper.
However, because everyone wants the holy grail of property, you have to make a split second decision on whether to buy it now or not. If you say yes they give you the keys and you own it within the hour. Then when you move in, you open the door to find out that the picture was taken forty years ago and everything needs updating to be suitable for use in the 21st century.
If you’re lucky, your trip to the estate agents will be wonderful and you’ll get your dream house to raise seven beautiful children in. On the other hand, not everyone is the Von Trapps or has the bank balance to please estate agents.
In the worst case scenario, you’ll sell your kidney to pay the mortgage for the stunning, contemporary family home overlooking the industrial estate. Yet every time you drink a cup of tea, and look out of the window at the twelve identical houses opposite, you’ll know that you got the best deal. This is because Mrs Simms has granite worktops and you have marble.