I have a new ally in John Bridgeman, the Director General of Fair Trading. He has issued a stern warning to estate agents who indulge in dirty tricks and has threatened to ban them if they persist with their devious malpractice. I will be writing to him shortly congratulating him on his courage and highlighting a number of dubious practices which so far appear to have escaped his attention.

In particular I will urge him to outlaw the practice of "ghosting". This odious scheme involves an estate agency holding itself out to have homes for sale when in reality it does not have a single property on its books. I have been a victim of ghosting for some months now and believe it is one of the most spiteful dirty tricks in an estate agent's box.

Last week I was sent a glossy brochure purporting to be a catalogue of properties for sale in my locale. What it actually contained was a lot of pictures of houses with the word "SOLD" plastered all over. The brochure titillates only to deceive and I believe this is wrong.

I will therefore propose that the Office of Fair Trading bans immediately any estate agent which cannot produce a property for sale on demand. Further I will suggest that any property which is not actually for sale be removed from public display.

I am getting fed up up of staring at pictures of rather attractive properties in estate agents' windows all marred by the words "sold", "sale agreed" or "under offer".

I cannot imagine looking at a butcher's window and finding every joint of beef and leg of lamb displayed has already been spoken for.

"Half a pound of skinless pork sausages please."

"Sorry, sir, the sale has already been agreed with Mrs Broomstick."

When a butcher has sold out of meat the shop looks either empty or closed. But when an estate agent has sold out of houses it still looks like an estate agent. This is deception on a grand scale.

What I find particularly depressing about ghosting is the arrogance and rudeness which sometimes accompanies it. There is one particular estate agent which I will not mention by name for fear of retribution.

A week or so ago I made a point of going in every day to ask if they had any properties for sale.

By Wednesday the man behind the desk with the clipboard and mobile phone was getting very angry.

"Do you have any houses?" I asked.

"No, we do not," he fumed.

On Thursday the same again.

"Got any houses?"



"Any houses?"

"No, and if you come in here one more time and ask that question I will nail your feet to the floor," he exploded.

On Saturday I went in one last time.

"Got any nails?" I asked.

"No," he replied a little confused.

"Good. Have you got any houses?"

It was fun but frankly I would have preferred to have had a conversation about property.

I am sure the OFT will respond positively to my suggestions which, by the way, will also benefit the estate agents themselves. With fewer estate agents there will be more properties for those which remain in business. Everyone's a winner.

I have also offered my services as an undercover home buyer and will trudge from office to office seeking out more dodges, wheezes and scams.

My message to the estate agents is clear: there is no hiding place, unless of course it is a four-bedroom detached house you are prepared to offer to me at a discount.