Confessions Of An Estate Agent: 'I escaped with the help of a teaspoon'

Allan Henderson is lettings manager at Alex Neil, London
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The Independent Online

"I started out as an estate agent when I was 21. For the first couple of years, when I was young and keen, I used to go to the houses that I was trying to sell a good two or three hours before the clients arrived, just to familiarise myself with it.

"I started out as an estate agent when I was 21. For the first couple of years, when I was young and keen, I used to go to the houses that I was trying to sell a good two or three hours before the clients arrived, just to familiarise myself with it.

"One hot summer day, when I had been an estate agent for just three months, I went to have a look at a flat in Wapping. It was a one-bedroom, third-floor flat boasting an open-plan kitchen and reception room facing the river and was on the market for £175,000. When I got there, I put the key in the lock to go in, it opened and I went inside, shutting the door behind me.

"After looking around for a while, I went to leave. I was expecting a couple who were coming to view the property so I wanted to go and get a cup of coffee before they arrived, but when I tried to open the door the lock wouldn't turn far enough. I tried pulling the door and unlocking it at the same time but that didn't work. I tried absolutely everything I could think of but I just could not get the door open.

"After a while I went out onto the balcony to think about what I would do. I called the office on my mobile and everyone had a good laugh. As the youngest and newest member of the team, I was the butt of all the jokes, and I'd really got myself in it this time. My manager set off in his car to help me but there was horrendous traffic and he didn't reach me until much later.

"After a while of sitting on the balcony, waiting to see if someone might pass by and help me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to prise the lock apart. I looked around for something to do this with and the only thing I could find in the whole apartment was a teaspoon. After about an hour of perseverance, I managed to jam the lock using the spoon and emerge from the flat.

"The couple who were meant to be coming to look at the flat never turned up. If they had, my ordeal would have been cut short as I could have just passed the keys through the window and they could have unlocked the door from the outside. However that would have been far too easy! Everyone back at the office had a good laugh at my expense. I didn't live that one down for a while. The upside to this story was that I was fortunate enough to actually sell that property myself so I did eventually get the commission. My toil was all worth it in the end."

Alex Neil lettings: 020-7237 6767

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