So you may have seen these kicking around Dalston a week or two ago and it got me thinking…
I’m an estate agent, I haven’t always been but I am one now. Over the years, I have bought and sold around 6 times, I started in Fulham Broadway, then spent 10 years hopping around Highbury and Islington, then a sabbatical in West Sussex before diving back into N1. I have consequently dealt with a number of agents over the years, all generally when I was courting another profession, so I can say hand on my heart, I can understand where the above sentiment came from. That said I would also like to say a few words on behalf of those who spend their days tirelessly fighting this perception because of the careless, lack lustre actions of others.
Firstly, why do I sympathise? Well let me give you a few of the scenarios I have personally experienced….
Agents not calling me back having bid asking price, to discover the property was under offer on their website a few days later
An agent buying the property I won a bid on
An agent quoting from a crib sheet, verbatim, what he’d clearly been told by some ‘sales guru’ was a guaranteed formula for securing a deal, despite the fact I’d said I wasn’t interested in the property
Being ignored because clearly I wasn’t the right age/ sex or dressed right, to be able to afford somewhere. Big mistake.
Being told, when selling my flat, that I was a fool for not accepting an offer and I’d never get that again…just got £120,000 more now, thank you.
I’ve also witnessed agents fighting with each other because they don’t want to show someone else, not registered with them a house, despite the fact they weren’t doing anything and the said client was flying off that day.
As recent as last week, I discovered via my tenant, who was attempting not to pay his rent that he had paid my agent in Sussex £500 to remarket the property, funnily enough the agent hadn’t mentioned this to me.
So…I get it, really I do. But in our defence we aren’t all like that. Once you’ve experienced…well… that, you’re not likely to dish it back out again, got to be pretty sadistic for that. Typically you will go to the opposite extreme in a valiant attempt to lead the way in how sales/ rentals ought to be.
One of the reasons I joined Fyfemcdade was yes, I needed a job and they were suitably eccentric enough to take me on, but because they had ethics, believed in building relationships with clients, were open to new ideas, didn’t walk around in suits with clipboards, ferociously clicking ball point pens and saying ‘get in’ whilst high fiving their colleagues….shiver.
As a team, and I say a team because we work as one, we help each other, ask for advice, and admit when we are clueless so we can get the right answer back to our clients instead of constructing some elaborate nonsense that sounds good but means, nothing.
Why do we do this, because we build up a level of trust between vendors/ landlords/ buyers and tenants and as in any relationship you don’t want to be the one to mess it up. It never feels good to be the one at fault, especially if you are hurting or upsetting someone else needlessly.
We are essentially middle men but we are also neutral and often good listeners and at times therapists. It’s stressful buying and moving and it’s important to understand that and try and help where and when we can. Sometimes people just need to vent and we are here for that. At times, we are at the mercy of changing circumstances from clients and have to be the bearers of bad news, in those instances, I’d like to think it was slightly more palatable coming from us as opposed someone else.
Yes, we make money…so do you. But we earn it honourably and can go home and sleep at night.
I watch people entering our office with a variety of attitudes which vary from nervous (having been shouted out by other agents, I kid you not), smiling (they’ve seen one of our dogs lounging on the sofa, we have one in each office) or in full battle defensive gear…It gives me such pleasure to put these people at ease and see the chain mail come off.
We have a testimonial page on our website, which on first reading may make you think we held a gun at these peoples head; surely no one would ever write that, let alone for an agency, but they did, willingly, and off their own back and it is this page that I’m the most proud of.
So, yes I admit it, I’m an agent, working for a good agency with lovely people and dogs and I will not be ashamed of what I do because I, WE aren’t like that. So post this Valentine’s Day weekend, I want to give everyone out there, searching for somewhere to live, a little hope.