Confessions Of An Estate Agent: 'She smiled her gummy smile'

Fergus Lyndsay is a branch valuer at Slater Hogg and Howison in Glasgow, Scotland.
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The Independent Online

"As an estate agent, sometimes you end up having to do things that go beyond the call of duty. On this particular occasion, I was showing a four-bedroom, two-storey sandstone Victorian villa. The house was owned by an old lady who was in her nineties. Her cousin was handling the sale, because the owner was old and bedridden. However, the cousin lived in Perth, which is 65 miles north of Glasgow.

"As an estate agent, sometimes you end up having to do things that go beyond the call of duty. On this particular occasion, I was showing a four-bedroom, two-storey sandstone Victorian villa. The house was owned by an old lady who was in her nineties. Her cousin was handling the sale, because the owner was old and bedridden. However, the cousin lived in Perth, which is 65 miles north of Glasgow.

"We listed the details of the house and then arranged with the cousin to have a block viewing of the property. We set aside two hours on a Saturday afternoon. In this situation, several people have a look at the property at once, instead of having an individual showing with an agent.

"When I arrived at the house, I had trouble getting in. Nobody had given me any keys. But strangely enough, the front door was open. The old lady had a home-help service but the help hadn't turned up that day. In fact, I found the owner alone in her bedroom, sitting up on her bed. Beside her on the dressing table were her teeth in a glass of water.

"I was expecting to show the house to 25 groups - about 80 people in all. I showed each group round the other rooms and the garden and left the owner's bedroom to last. It was probably more embarrassing for the viewers than it was for her, because they might have felt they were invading her privacy. They certainly didn't expect her to be there, with her teeth in a glass beside her. But she didn't seem to mind; she just smiled her gummy smile.

"The trouble really started when the police came to the front door. They wanted to know who I was and why loads of people were at the house. Apparently, the neighbours had complained that it was noisy. The problem was that more people came to the block viewing than I had expected. And since there was no place to park, their cars blocked the little road by the house."

"Eventually, I sorted out the situation with the police and the cars, but my blood pressure was getting pretty high. I was by myself. I had to show all these people round the house in a short period of time. And after all the viewers left, I realised I couldn't leave the owner alone. So I phoned her cousin who agreed to come down from Perth. But the trip took two hours, so I had to sit with the old lady till her cousin arrived. In the meantime, I made her toast and tea. Strangely enough, despite the eccentric arrangements, someone who viewed the house that afternoon eventually bought it."

Slater Hogg and Howison, 0141-334 9493

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