"They say the three great stresses of life are getting married, divorced and moving house. That's why I often warn prospective sellers that their moods may fluctuate as the transaction develops and that they shouldn't feel bad about swearing at me, crying, banging the desk and generally letting their stress hang out. In fact, I regularly encourage this, so that I can steer them in the right direction during times of high emotion (otherwise they might do something silly).
"My experience is that most clients do, in fact, turn from Dr Jekyll into Mr Hyde at some stage and the invitation to use me as a sounding board (not a punch bag - I draw the line at violence) is a welcome one.
"Picture this scenario: a vendor is on a conference 300 miles away from home. The stress of a late exchange finally hits him. There is a large quantity of alcohol in his hotel. He drinks some of it and then finds my home phone number in his wallet. Remembering my invitation, he gives me a call. A dozen drunken and abusive calls later, I pull the phone out of the wall. Needless to say, early the next morning, the same vendor makes another phone call, this time to my office, to apologise profusely. Fortunately there is a happy ending. Contracts are finally exchanged and my client returns to being a delightful normal human being.
"Sometimes you get a Mrs Hyde. On one occasion, we were selling a client's house and she was buying a brand-new one, so the pressure was on because the contracts needed to be exchanged as quickly as possible. We found a buyer, but he withdrew. Tensions rose. We found another.
"About a week into the contract, we had a call from our client telling us that she had a problem. Her building society required further salary clarification from her employer for her mortgage. I began explaining that it wasn't a problem, but then she suddenly exploded into floods of tears on the other end of the phone. Her tide of emotion was so strong that she was unable to speak and had to put the phone down, leaving me to coo soothing reassurances into the receiver.
"After she had calmed down, she called me back and explained her situation in between sobs. It transpired that, while applying for a mortgage, she had decided to resign and so therefore couldn't get an employer's reference. To make things worse, she was also separating from her partner. Her career, love life and home were all up in the air and it all finally erupted onto me. Happily, our heroine got a new job with a better salary and finally completed - only eight weeks late. Her nightmare was over and she quickly returned to her former self.
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