Confessions Of An Estate Agent: 'Blood was everywhere'

Howard Elston is a house sales negotiator with Aylesford & Co in Chelsea, London.
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The Independent Online

"The health of both the estate agent and the client can have a big effect on how well a house viewing goes. One time, I was doing a house showing at around 6pm in the winter. The house was empty and the owners were away. When I went in, the first thing I had to do, even before I switched on the lights, was to see to the burglar alarm. It was still on and I had to disable it. It was an old-fashioned one where you have to put a key into the alarm and turn the key to shut it off.

"The health of both the estate agent and the client can have a big effect on how well a house viewing goes. One time, I was doing a house showing at around 6pm in the winter. The house was empty and the owners were away. When I went in, the first thing I had to do, even before I switched on the lights, was to see to the burglar alarm. It was still on and I had to disable it. It was an old-fashioned one where you have to put a key into the alarm and turn the key to shut it off.

"The alarm was located in a cupboard under the stairs. As I was turning it off, I struck my head on the door catch under the doorframe. I couldn't see what was going on because the house was dark and I didn't realise I was injured. But I felt a sharp pain in my head. Suddenly, the doorbell rang. My client had arrived to view the house. As I opened the door, she saw me and, to my astonishment, screamed in horror and then ran away."

"I then realised that I had blood all over my face and my suit. There was a deep gash on my forehead. After I'd hit the catch, blood must have run down into one eye, then down my face and onto my shirt within 15 or 20 seconds. Blood was dripping all over the place and, in the dark, it must have looked horrific.

"Luckily for me, after running for 20 paces, the client turned around and returned to the house. She offered to call an ambulance for me, but I declined. I called a cab instead and went to Charing Cross Hospital, where they gave me three stitches. The client rang the next day to see if I was all right. I was. We then went back to see the house the following week. But she hated it and didn't buy it. It was sold to someone else a few months later.

"Another time, it wasn't me but a client's baby that was sick during a property visit. The baby must have been about three or four months old at the time. It was being carried in its mother's arms and it screamed and cried nonstop while she viewed a five-storey house.

"At one point, the mother turned the baby around in an attempt to settle it, and placed it on her other shoulder. It then vomited a projectile of food all over the carpet. It was an unpleasant mess and had a ghastly smell. The baby clearly had an upset stomach. I had to clear the carpet up.

"Fortunately, the owners were away, and I was able to clean up the mess thoroughly. The client didn't buy the house and I didn't tell the owners what happened. Some things are better left unsaid."

Aylesford & Co: (0207) 3512383

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