Don't be my friend, find me a house

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The curiously named Mark S Felton Fnaea whom I thought was an estate agent but, it transpires, is apparently more of a professional pen friend has entered into correspondence. I have never met Mr Fnaea or is it Felton Fnaea but this does not stop him from greeting me as a long lost friend. I can only assume that Mark or is it Mark S is the man at Black Horse Agencies Gascoigne-Pees who was charged with the responsibility some time ago of finding a house for me to buy or at least to look at. If I remember rightly one of MSFF's weekend ladies assured me that her daily colleagues would move heaven and earth to assist me in my quest to be of fixed abode. Since then winter has turned to spring but not a single set of particulars has been forthcoming.

Perhaps Mr Fnaea is aware of my solitude and his cheery letter is designed to reassure me that life at Black Horse Agencies, Gascoigne-Pees continues apace. In that case his letter fails miserably.

It starts: "I am delighted to inform you that the Richmond, Ham and Kew market places have continued to gain momentum and I can confidently say that we are now experiencing the most buoyant housing conditions since the later 1980s." All this does is make me acutely aware of the fact that if by some miracle MSFF ever has a house to sell me then it will cost me a lot more to buy than it would have done if the same property had been available when I first popped into his office three months ago.

In case I have missed the point the letter continues: "There is an insufficient number of quality homes available to meet the current demand which has resulted in very encouraging prices being achieved".

This makes depressing reading. But it gets worse. MSFF has thoughtfully enclosed a copy of his Surrey & London Homes Magazine. "I hope you will enjoy looking at this selection of quality properties and informative articles," he concludes. This is a form of mental torture I can well do without. The last thing I need is a glossy brochure with pretty pictures of houses I can't afford in areas where I do not want to live.

As for the informative articles I scrutinised the index in vain for the piece "How to buy a house in a market place which continues to gain momentum". Nor was there an article entitled "What to do with an estate agent who sends you glossy magazines when what you really want are particulars of a three-bderoomed house."

All things considered this was not a great piece of correspondence. The problem is there is not much I can do about it. If I write to MSFF and complain about his glossy magazine he will no doubt expunge my name from the mailing list. But if I am expunged from the mailing list will I ever see any house particulars? I know that being on the mailing list has not helped so far in this respect but I am determined to look on the bright side of life. Perhaps the answer is to play MSFF at his own game. If he wants to play the part of pen friend rather than estate agent then perhaps I should consider responding in kind.

Even now I have available to me the technology which would allow me to mount a letter writing campaign of such magnitude that MSFF will be battered into submission. I have downloaded from the Internet a letter generating programme that automatically sends letters from the entire A-K telephone directory. By superimposing this on a customised version of some word processing software I uncovered a while back I can send 500,000 individualised and customised letters at the press of a button.

Each letter could sing the praises of the Surrey & London Homes Magazine but raise a crucial question about the property market that demands a written answer. If MSFF can answer 100 letters a day it will take him around 20 years to deal with such a post bag. Hopefully this will keep him so busy that he will forget to send any more circular letters to would be house buyers. By the time he has finished I also assume that there will be sufficient number of quality homes available to meet the current demand.

I know this is an extreme response but these are desperate times and I am sorely tempted.

On the other hand I can just sit tight and wait for interest rates to rise as they will undoubtedly do after the general election. As the cost of borrowing rises so house prices fall. Anyone who can remember the later Eighties will recall that base rates which had been at 8.5 per cent in late 1987 had rocketed within two years to 15 per cent. Hopefully we will not see history repeat itself. However, there is an old saying in the Chinese property market along the lines of: "He who talks up falls down."

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