Rhodri Marsden: Finding a house involves fearsome amounts of brainpower

Life on Marsden
  • @rhodri

In January I decided to move house. I rang an estate agent, found his manner really irritating, said: "You know what? Let's leave it," put the phone down and changed my mind. There's no stopping me once I get an idea in my head, until I give up.

But six months on I've finally found somewhere to live and am in the midst of what's supposed to be one of the three most stressful times of ones life – alongside losing your passport at Gatwick and having your hair cut by someone who doesn't speak the same language as you.

So I thought I could offer some property-related advice. Like TV's Phil Spencer, minus the knowledge and expertise. Firstly, make the most of the time you spend with estate agents. Be inventive in your small talk. "Are you happy being an estate agent?" is a good question to ask: it tends to wrongfoot them and takes the conversation in unexpected directions. Also, ask them to recount hilarious stories of times that they've walked in on naked vendors who have forgotten about the viewing appointment and are either shouting at the golf on telly, eating spaghetti or dancing aggressively to Skrillex.

Keep a blog devoted to terrible estate-agent blurb and photos. Friends will find it far more interesting than tales of house hunting. Sentences such as "complimentary therapist Liz and her daughter Sanchia felt instant and enduring warmth at Mill Cottage" will delight and amuse, while photographs of dilapidated ironing boards in damp gardens will amaze and mystify.

Ignore anyone who says: "When you walk into a place, you'll just know." Sometimes you have to think about it. Finding a place to live involves a fearsome amount of brainpower, offsetting the attributes of various properties against one another in some fiendishly complex league table, with points awarded for low prices, serviced boilers and not being located up the arse of nowhere. Let's face it – if you walk into a beautiful home and you hear "Our House" by Crosby, Stills Nash and Young playing faintly in your head, you probably can't afford it. Lastly, once you've had an offer accepted, don't open any email alerts advising you of exciting new properties that have just become available. It's the equivalent of the "here's what you could have won" moment on Bullseye and it'll crush your soul. Happy hunting.