Friday, July 25, 2014


Money is the dull mathematics of adulthood. To buy a house, we need a measure of our own financial worth, which is effectively the house we’re sitting in and any spare change we can find down the back of the sofa. We have no idea, for the previous few years estate agents and their allied cohorts of hell had alternately depressed and effervesced about prices. Going through manic phases where it seems they’re trying to convince themselves that things will get better, before they’re punching themselves in the head again with the fact that things weren't getting better. We know what we paid for it on the grounds that we are still paying for it and will be until sometime after the heat-death of the universe. What we need to know now is how much someone else is willing to pay for the house we are living in? That’s a very different metric to what the house is actually worth.

That means we needed an estate agent. OK, we’re not entirely dumb, thirty minutes on the internet put a figure in mind. We do do some research. Especially if it’s the kind of research that doesn’t involve leaving the sofa and can be carried out with a drink in hand.

Finding an estate agent. There’s probably some dark ceremony, performed at midnight on the Devil's sabbath that can raise one. You’ll need black robes and a rudimentary knowledge of Latin curses. Possibly a small animal.

Or you can fill in the form on a property website. Click ‘select all’ in your selected areas and remove yourself to a minimum safe distance from your inbox.

On asking enough friends about an estate agent and someone will always say they know someone who sold their house without an agent. It ought to be completely possible. People might be intrigued by occasional wander through the forest of For Sale signs in their favourite neighbourhood, but it’s all search engines, post-codes and ever-increasing radiuses that find the properties. The internet doesn’t need estate agents. But they stubbornly persist, like malaria. Fact is, very few people can be bothered to sell their house. That's because most of us are not estate agents.

We picked four. The usual high street suspects and one local. We figured the locals will know the territory and could conduct a guerrilla campaign on our behalf, but the big boys will have the materiel, all that high-gloss sales patter. We’re lying to ourselves, of course, we’re not selling a palace, just a standard end-of-terrace townhouse. They’ll get out of bed for us, but then they were getting out anyway. Still, the sniff of commission is coffee to them. They’ll come even if it’s Nescafe instant

So we line them up to visit, like the world’s bizarre speed date.

A note on estate agents

Of course jokes on estate agents are cheap shots. So I’m going to take each and every one of them.

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