In my 20s I moved to London with just a duffle bag, only to exit in my thirties with a shipping container. Sometimes I regret sending my old furniture across the Atlantic, but having our British flat replicated in the basement of our house is awesome, especially when I get drunk and pass out. It’s like waking up in England, but the breakfast is better.
In the U.K. you don’t get the star realtor types with glitzy headshots and names splashed across billboards. Instead you walk into one of the few estate agencies, and a nameless employee will take you to properties they’ve never even set foot in. Should you view a place again it’ll be with a different person as they’re mostly interchangeable young drones. The upside to this approach is that they’re hands-off when it comes to selling. The downside’s that they are very much hands-on when it comes to taking their commission.
When we bought in London, the estate agent drove us to our first viewing in the corporate Mini Cooper, blasting techno music the entire way. On arrival we were pretty much ready to buy it just so we didn’t have to get back in the car. Thing is, when we got to the door it wouldn’t open because he’d taken the wrong keys. He wasn’t even embarrassed, it was as if this was a routine occurrence for him. We returned to the office for the right set, only for him to again grab the incorrect ones. Seriously, this happened. I mentioned about American realtors using lockboxes, and he quipped, “Never heard of ’em mate, but they sound like a right pain in the arse.”
There was another property we were keen on viewing, but when we got to the office the estate agent on shift explained, “I’m too busy to go with you, (Candy Crush?), but it’s tenanted and they know you’re coming. Just don’t go to the front door because it’s broken. You have to go along the side of the building to the window.”
She said this like it was perfectly normal and I felt like we were being Punk’d. While I started looking for hidden cameras, my wife asked, “So we knock on the window then?”
She told us, “Nah, their kids are usually standing outside it having a fag.”
Turning to me, my wife said, “That means smoking.”
I knew this already, but my wife has a good sense of humour, and enjoys doing this with me in front people with any common British words and terms.
I then asked, “How do we climb into it?”
“There’s an old rubbish bin there that they use, it’s easy.”
My wife explained, “That’s a garbage can.”
We decided not to see the property.
We recently sold a place in North America, and the “Viewing Expert” on our real estate agent’s team did a walk-through of our home, then went over the pros and cons. He was relieved our unit didn’t have a four in the number as they’re considered very bad luck by Asians, and nobody wants to deter any potential buyers. Thing is, we were on the fourth floor, only it was called the Penthouse, but he never caught on to that. He felt that some of our stuff showed great taste, but most of it just had to go. He toured our home and pointed out the decorating disasters.
First up, our Waring Pro Made in USA commercial blender.
He stared at it for a beat and I could see the confusion and disgust in his eyes.
I explained, “It’s a blender.”
He said, “Mmm, weird green, too much colour, and I’m not familiar with the brand.”
I replied, “It was quite expensive.”
“Put it in storage and get a Vitamix.”
He walked around our home eyeing each piece, pointing to the door and saying…
While filming in South Africa, I bought these hand-carved book ends. They weigh a ton and I love them.
Photographs from one of our trips to Thailand that my wife had printed on hardback.
If I had an original Banksy on the wall he’d have yelled, “Storage!”
He said that he was going to have better art sent over and some red pillows for colour. This is the same genius who wanted our blender in storage because it had too much colour. I really wasn’t cool with any this. Ultimately we’d have to live with his taste, and how is it even possible that his taste is the same as the buyers’? What if they prefer our art and small appliances? I fought him until he demanded, “Just let me do my job.”
As alluring as it sounds to have a team, his job was unnecessary, and in order to validate his existence he needed to make changes. Someone always wants to put his or her stink on things.
Here’s what they sent over.
Apparently we’re marketing this to a fashionable wino who’s terrified of fours, knows her blenders, and twerks during thunderstorms.
The one rule that real estate agents go by is that they never want the seller to be present when there’s a viewing. They firmly believe that seeing the owner in their own home makes it too personal, and they want the buyer to feel there are no attachments. I think this is a crock of sh*t.
On our last sale we’d written the copy, staged the home, taken the photos and talked to the buyers. That was in England, where the estate agents don’t do anything, and it had worked to our advantage. Though handing over thousands in commission was absolutely brutal. Since we weren’t allowed to be there, we’d head out with our dog during the viewings. This period may have been the greatest time of his life.
Then this happened.
So there we were, revealed to two other humans looking for a nice place to live. I was able to point out the benefits of our location, the things one would only know if they actually lived there. It was personal and an important part of the sale. Over the days we ended up meeting some of the others, and I’m still stunned by some of the questions that were actually brought to the table.
Is the garden hose included?
Seriously, this came up in our sale. Someone’s life-purchase was potentially halted because a sixteen-foot, ten-dollar green tube may not be included.
How are the neighbours?
There’s a dozen of them living in a one-bedroom. They use their balcony as a toilet, cook meth and they’ve set up a ten-pin bowling lane in their living room. Oh and they have J-pop karaoke parties. Nice people though, well I think they are, they don’t speak English.
Will you offer a warranty?
Please, f*** off.
Is there any crime in the area?
First off, I am surprised you managed to get here without getting stabbed. Wait, did you drive here? Please tell me you didn’t park out front, because if you did your car’s probably gone, and if it’s still there you’ll need to check for C-4. Don’t worry, I’ll lend you my bomb mirror. It’s easy, like using a selfie stick, but it’ll save your life instead of making you like a huge douchebag.
Seriously, police make crime stats readily available. Why on earth would a seller dedicate any time to going through every negative incident or event they’ve heard about?
Can you paint it for us?
Sure, how’s black?
Moving sucks, but starting over can be a thrill. Please comment and share your experiences below.
Thanks for reading,
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Comedy – The Huffington Post
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