Before you buy, lie

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The Independent Online
After my bruising at the hands of estate agents with no homes to sell I decided to venture once more into the property market. I have done so using a ruse that is guaranteed to give me queue barger's rights. I have, you see, become a euromark sterling denominated long-dated interest rate options trader. More importantly I have just received my bonus. And what a big bonus it was.

Derivatives and futures traders seem to possess the property market's equivalent of a British Airways executive club gold card. They have a dedicated property negotiator, automatic upgrades to the area of their choice and priority viewing of new instructions.

I know that impersonating a derivatives trader is probably illegal, even though a lot of people in the City get away with it. However, desperate times call for desperate measures. So I have hired a sharp suit and a blunt manner and headed once more into the market place.

The conversations I have had so far have been altogether more rewarding than those in my more conventional guise of "just another person who would like to buy a house".

This is a reasonable replay of a not untypical encounter.

"Good morning Sir. How may I be of assistance."

"I would like to buy a house," say I. "No more than pounds 5m. My bonus has been shaved a bit this year. I took a bath on the mark in December."

"So you work in the City?"

"No. The City works in me. I live and breathe the City," I say wiping away a tear.

"What exactly do you do?"

"I trade."

"Of course," says the estate agent almost overpowered by the smell of my money. "And you would like to buy a house."

"Indeed I would. When I got my bonus I thought, I know, I'll put it in the building society. Then I thought, no, I'll buy the building society. Then I thought, no, it's time to settle down and invest in bricks and mortar."

"A wise decision if I may say so. What are you looking for?"

"Well, what I need is two places. One for me and one for my old mum."

"I see" (drooling).

"Yes. I need three to four bedroms, two baths and a garden. Nothing too flash."

"And for you sir?"

"Yes I need to spend four to five million, two baths in each bathroom and a gardener."

"Nothing too flash?"

"You are dead right. Nothing is too flash for me mate."

With that the estate agent, who but a few weeks ago had nothing on his books, pulls out a pile of particulars. I give them a cursory glance.

"I'll have that one," I say pointing at the most expensive.

"An excellent choice. Now when would you like to view?

"I do not want to view. I want to buy."

"But what if it is not to your taste?" the estate agent inquires.

"Why is that a worry? I am not going to live there."

"Where will you live then?"

"With my mum of course. What have you got for her?"

"If the truth be told sir, that is proving to be a rather troublesome sector of the market."

"Oh, I see. Look, here's a tenner. Does that make it any less troublesome?"

"The problem is we don't actually have any houses like that to sell sir," the estate agent says returning the pounds 10 note. "How about if your mum moved in with you?"

"Don't be ridiculous. It would take her all week to clean a place that size. When would she cook my dinner?"

The estate agent begins to see 2 per cent of pounds 4.9m drifting away. Which goes to show. Money cannot buy you happiness, nor can it buy you a three bedroom house in London.

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