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

'I tried to be more seal pup than shark, but soon it was time to play hardball again'
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The Independent Online

It's a sad state of affairs when the greatest satisfaction to be had out of one's job is to be told how ill-equipped one is to do it. "An estate agent?!" a fellow dinner-party guest cried, incredulous, when I'd fended off the "what-do-you-do?" question for as long as I could. "But you just don't seem... well... odious enough!"

Such compliments become even more flattering when paid by someone you work with. "Well done you!" squealed the excited vendor on hearing the news that I'd finally secured a buyer for her flat. "I bet he went for it because you're not the typical shark estate agent."

Personally, my money was on the storage space for his golf clubs, but, like a praised child, I was eager to try to please again. "Can I now show you some flats to buy?"

And so began the love affair: me escorting my admirer from property to property, always careful to be more seal pup than shark, basking in the accolades that this elicited; my client overjoyed to have found someone who was an estate agent in name only.

But then my manager stuck his nose in. "You're spending too much time with Miss Frigid." (His name for anyone without a heaving cleavage and the patience to humour him.) "Tell her, if she wants a surrogate boyfriend, Gavin will do the honours."

Gavin, keen, as ever, to be included at any cost, nodded in agreement.

"She's not looking for a man," I protested. Then, looking at Gavin, "Or a pet. Just a nice flat."

My manager rolled his eyes as if this were an unreasonable request. "And has she offered on any yet?"

"No, but–"

"Well, she'd better get a move on, otherwise she's going to lose her 'nice' buyer, and you're going to lose your 'nice' commission." I'd got so carried away being adored, I'd forgotten that there were three of us in this relationship. Right enough, her buyer was starting to ask questions. It was time to up the ante, and turn estate agent.

"I'm afraid I've got bad news," I announced, hoping that she wouldn't detect the deceit in my voice. "We've had an offer on that house you liked in Poppy Avenue."

To my shame, she trusted me and took the bait, and by the end of the day, I'd agreed the sale. "That's more like it, girl," my manager said, thumping me on the back. "Gav – watch and learn!"

Unfortunately, though, my success was short-lived. The following morning, Miss Frigid was back on the phone: she'd done a lot of thinking and didn't want to go ahead with either her purchase or her sale. "I just don't feel that I'm psychologically adjusted to moving."

If this is what happens when I conform to type, I don't think I'm psychologically adjusted to being an estate agent, either.