Monday, February 13, 2006

Flat Out

I hate estate agents. They bring out the absolute worst in me - pretty much more than any other group of people I can think of. I do hate generalisations, but all estate agents (and I will limit the generalisation to all of London) are ignorant, slimy, rude, money obsessed, pressurising and lying fools. The women less so than the men. Only slightly though.

Actually I take it back. It’s NOT a generalisation. Bring me an estate agent who isn’t like that and I will show you an estate agent who has lied to you to convince you that they aren't like that thus confirming exactly how much they are like that in reality.

We have been dealing with estate agents since we got to this small island, having forgotten our 'guide to renting & buying' back home. In my opinion the process should be quick, easy and fun. But it never is and the fault is entirely the crappy estate agents.

When we looked to rent 4 years ago we had 3 specifications in the two areas we were looking in:- 2 bed/ 2 bath modern-ish flat- not lower than the 2nd floor- not more than 8 minute walk to the tube station.

Of course every estate agent we registered with decided to ignore our requirements and we ended up saying no to basement flats with tiny cloakrooms 20 minutes away from the tube station. No I am not a mile a minute runner and nor was the estate agent. I was tempted more than one to make them walk it while we timed him. We saw 3 bed/ 1 bathroom flats, garden flats, upper ground flats, flats that were held up by cellotape and wishes . Make no mistake we are not particularly fussy but c'mmon! We saw 40 flats before we found even one that matched all 3 criteria. And it was finally through a newspaper add and not an estate agent. We grabbed and all these years on we are still wow'd when we walk in the door.

The new situation is that we are house/flat hunting. Have been since August last year. The only reason it's taken this long is that now I am dealing with 6 different and equally rubbishy estate agents who are attempting to sell me my new house. The women all dress like butterfly's trying to get on the catwalk or planning on going disco dancing in the middle of the day. The men meanwhile are all caked in some kind of foundation make-up and lip gloss. And that's meant to hide their absolute lack of manners or common sense. Well it doesn't.

We've seen what seem like a zillion flats in our desired area and we still have not found a single one matching all our criteria. We've seen flats where the 'seperate' kitchen is one wall of a tiny living room demarcated only by ugly tiles, where northeast facing miraculously shows southwest on the agents 'magic' compass, where a 20 minute brisk jog is pronounced 'close to tube', and where 'storage' is 5 inches under the mini-queen size bed in the closet masquerading as the master bedroom. Is it my English?

To top it all the shoeboxes are being offered at exhorbitantly inflated prices under the guise of the Olympics coming to East London in 2012. Who in their right mind will buy a flat just to be able to watch 10 days of olympic games? But try stopping an estate agent from tell you how 'quickly the flat is going to go because the Olympics are around the corner so you MUST put in an offer ASAP'. 6 months on most of the flats that I saw at the begining are still up for sale. At reduced prices. But beside fast-talking agents that's probably because the flats have paperthin walls, oddly shaped rooms, terrible proportions, bad tube connections and shaky infrastructure.

One final rant about the agents before I go. They all have two door four seater cars (OK there is one exception). That is quite a dumb decision considering that any house buying decision will be made by more than one person and will not include the agents opinion. Either V or I must tuck our knees under our chins and sqeeze past a half bent over tiny front seat. For 6 viewings in an evening. That equals cramps and stunted knee development. At the very least.

I am exhausted and highly demotivated by the whole process and all the people involved. I need a break and a fresh outlook. I wish estate agents were better educated, not as rude, less overbearing, more worried about the interests of the buyers, less worried about the commission, heard more and talked less.

In the meanwhile I'm no longer going flat out.


  1. Anonymous12:39 AM

    i told you my views on the phone already!!!

    in short, all agents, not limited to london are like that...

    maybe that's why i am not making the big buck...because i am nice???40in2006!!!

  2. London :) Such a nice place.. so many nice people.. Lol!!

  3. Sounds like too much fun :) My sympathies

  4. i hav had one bad experience with one of them... but the rest of them hav been really nice..

    Good luck in your house hunting.

  5. Jane sunshine, YOu give me hope that at the end of the day it will all pan out just fine!

    40in2006, Good to know that its a worldwide problem and not limited to London. And yes you are too nice!

    Me, Yes a city of joy....???!!

    Wicked angel, Sympathy and tea are much needed during this horrid process. Thanx for one of those!

    Chakra, You got lucky. I have not met a single nice for good luck, we need it by the truckload, so thank you.

  6. All of the them are very similar. Greedy and not concerned about the requirements of the tenant.

    We had a really bad experience when a Romanian estate agent in London gave us a cheque to return our deposit.......some of us had already left London by that time and when one of our friends banked the cheque, she had actually issues stop payment notice. Each of us lost quite a bit of money.

  7. Anonymous8:40 PM

    Oh dear, sounds awful, how are you getting on though? any closer to buying..?
    best of luck.

  8. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Just came by your blog. And kept nodding at every word in the post! Have just moved to London and am going through the pains of dealing with house hunting which has left me tired, dizzy, fed up and wanting to run away!!

    Nice blog. Will be back :)