Secret Agent: A day in the life of an estate agent

'This was management's response to the looming crash – one gigantic exercise in denial'
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The Independent Online

Whenever the press predicts a property crash, Management calls a meeting. Rather than lamenting the repercussions it might have on our industry, while sombrely issuing a new lean commission structure, the event is simply a gigantic exercise in denial.

"People will always need property," a man with slicked-back hair shouted from the podium. "A crash is what happens to Lewis Hamilton's competitors on the racetrack!"

A loud cheer erupted from the audience, along with some wolf-whistling, which I assumed was for Lewis Hamilton and not the man with the slicked-back hair. "If anything," he continued, in sweaty excitement, "we're experiencing a property boom."

We were then subjected to various graphs and models that purportedly proved his point, before being made to repeat sales-waffle parrot-fashion, which the likes of Gavin – and, sadly, there are many Gavins in our company – were particularly good at.

I've got to hand it to Head Orifice, though; their ability to remain positive about the market in the face of blinding evidence to the contrary is, if nothing else, impressive. Instead of leaving the meeting wishing to gun them all down with a Kalashnikov, as is the norm, I resolved to rise above such pettiness and follow their lead.

Back in the office, the next day, I took a call. "How can I help?" I chirped, remembering the instruction to smile into the handset.

"I'd like my house valued," came the surly reply.

"Excellent! Now, we should ideally get someone round today, since the market's sizzling," I prattled. "Let me check if that's possible..."

Long pause while I pretend to look at the diary.

"Ah, we're in luck, I've got a cancellation at 3pm – would that suit?"

This effervescent Carole Smillie persona was slightly harder to affect face to face. "Gosh, what a pretty towel rail," was the best I could come up with as the solemn-faced vendor led me into the third room painted the seasick green of public toilets. "This is going to fly off the shelf!"

He raised an eyebrow. "Really? I thought nothing was selling at the moment."

"Nonsense!" I said, swatting the air, then duly regurgitated the nonsense that I had been taught by Head Orifice. "So, you see, far from slowing down, the property market is actually just hotting up," I concluded, beaming.

Three days went by, and I heard nothing from the vendor. As has been painfully proved to me by past romantic encounters, it is never a good sign if you have to make the call.

"We've given much consideration to what you said about the market," the vendor explained, earnestly. "Your optimism is very encouraging and, assuming you're right about it hotting up even more, we'd like to put our house on the market – next year."

By which time, I seethed, privately, I will definitely have taken that Kalashnikov to Head Orifice.

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