Property: I've tried the Net and I've seen the light. Come back Toby and Vanessa

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The Independent Online
After my experiences at the hands of Toby and Vanessa I decided that it was time to delve into cyberspace in search of my perfect property. The thing about estate agents is you can't live with them and you can't kill them. By surfing the Internet I reckoned I would be safely distanced from their unfortunate personality disorders. I would be househunting in a kind of virtual realty.

I may not be the full anorak when it comes to computers but I see myself as something of a furry hood. The "net" or the "world wide web" as we like to call this miracle of technology holds no fears for me. I sat down, logged in and surfed up.

Within a trice I was staring at a list of estate agencies. In fact I wasn't. I was staring at a list of names like Arkansas Highways and Utah Housing. I was confused until I realised that I was missing my "e". I had not asked my engine to search the web for estate agencies but state agencies.

I tried again, undeterred. At least after such a blunder the computer did not wink knowingly at his colleague Caroline sitting smugly in the corner filing her particulars. Nor did it make a snide remark like "No that is the rental per week sir!" Yes, when it comes to estate agents speech is silver but silence is compulsory.

After a while stuck on the super highway's equivalent of the M25 I finally made it to my junction and exited just a little impatiently. My web browser ground to a halt at an intriguing little site entitled Richmond - Country Living with a Capital Connection.

I have never quite seen Richmond as the country but neither is it London. I browsed on. To my amazement not only did the properties look extremely cheap but there were properties for sale, lots of them. Four bedrooms, three bathrooms set in its own grounds only $250,000. This was the way to do it. It got better. There were houses with stables, houses with swimming pools houses with easy access to the Interstate Highway. Interstate Highway?

Only then did it click. I was looking at properties in Richmond Virginia not Richmond, Surrey. Such is life in cyberspace's property market.

My next stop did not help me further my home-owning ambitions but it did make me realise that there are some extremely warped people out there not all of whom are estate agents. I am perfectly happy to poke some gentle fun at my colleagues in the property world but it is all well intentioned and without malice. The author of this vitriol on the world wide web was somewhat less balanced.

The laws of libel and a modicum of human decency prohibit me from sharing with you the rantings of a mad man. Suffice to say he believed realtors (unsurprisingly he was American) were generally as welcome in the developed world as bubonic plague.

After what felt like 60 minutes but was in fact an hour, I left the home of bonkers@asylum.com.barmy. and moved on through cyberspace to try and track down a terrestrial abode.

In amongst the Richmond Virginia's, Paris Texas's and Brentford New Jersey's I was able to find only the occasional representative of Old England. If the brightest and best of our estate agents are out there I could not find them.

My only fear now is that I will be inundated with offers to come and visit the web sites I somehow missed. Those offers should be directed to bonkers@ asylum.com.barmy. It is estate agents with houses, not web sites which interest me.

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