Property: The agent's deceptively spacious CV

YOUR WORST fears about estate agents are confirmed in a survey by the organisation responsible for their training. Only 17 per cent of negotiators and 23 per cent of valuers have any relevant qualifications, according to a report by the Residential Estate Agency Training and Education Association. The odds are therefore at least four to one against the person selling your home having learned from anything other than his or her mistakes.

With a staff turnover rate of 35 per cent a year in the largest 20 companies, this makes it even more likely that you, the seller, are providing the training material for your agent, and you are being asked to pay for it. Employers report that they consider it more important that new recruits have experience of sales than experience in estate agency.

With agents once again beginning to take on more staff, it is worth asking whether the person handling the biggest financial transaction of your life has any credentials for doing so.

RESTORATION House in Rochester, which served as Charles Dickens's model for Satis House, the home of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, has been sold. It seems that the building which proved so daunting to the young Pip has proved irresistible to prospective buyers.

The 17th-century property has been rescued from the receivers by a writer and a banker who are determined to finish off the excellent restoration work begun by its former owner, Rod Hull, of Emu fame. He spent thousands of pounds recreating such details as the drawing-room which Miss Havisham had set for her bridal feast. Even the cobwebs were authentically arranged.

Knight Frank & Rutley says it was inundated with genuine inquiries about the house, which went to best and final offers before being sold for 'comfortably in excess' of the guide price of pounds 250,000.

The name Restoration House dates back to 1660 when Charles II spent his first night back on English soil there, on his way to reclaim the throne. Its new owners are interested in receiving any unpublished information about the house, particularly pictures showing the central chimney stack, which has collapsed.

GETTING rid of unwanted, unfashionable furniture in London means either the small ads or a bribe to the dustman. Here is a way to recycle it philanthropically. The Notting Hill Housing Trust is advertising in the Big Issue magazine for single beds, cookers, tables, chairs and wardrobes for 12 new flats. They will be used to house people currently living in hostels. If you can help call Sarah on 081-563 5333.

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