Diary of an estate agent: Battersea

Tricky times with a lock-in, a dirty dog and tipsy squatters
Diary of an estate agent cartoon


I begin my week with the 8.30am trawl through the weekend's leads and find a viewing request for one of our most opulent apartments located on the river. I get on the phone and arrange to meet the applicant.

After a promising tour of the flat the buyer asks to see the underground parking, and I lead the way. We go through two security doors and I show him the parking space then proceed to the exit, only to see a keypad as the sole means of getting out of the basement. I don't know the code — I wasn't told one was necessary — there's no mobile signal and we're stranded.

An hour passes and everything I know about the local area is relayed to the prospective buyer, whether he wants to know it or not, and we manage a brief chat about Arsenal's recent shortcomings before a resident lets us out. Despite this unnecessarily protracted viewing, the buyer decides to offer on the property and proceed with the purchase — so perhaps the "lock-in" method will become a recognised sales technique in the near future.


As the embarrassment of yesterday's unintentional lock-in fades, I proceed to work my way through my trickier applicants, hoping I don't have any more bad luck.

Sadly for me this isn't the case, as I arrange a viewing with a buyer who has been searching for a home for six months. A not-very-polite man, he expects everything but offers nothing.


I have spent the last few months working on a buyer who seems to think his being late is just something we estate agents have to deal with. However, his blasé attitude towards punctuality isn't a patch on his latest performance.

Arriving 25 minutes late for a viewing, he strolls nonchalantly up to the house with his dog in tow and wanders in. Slightly concerned by the dog I ask the gentleman if his pet is house-trained, and he assures me it is, so we move into the drawing room.

This room, filled with antiques and genuine animal hides, is about to become a very expensive litter tray. The dog proceeds to select the genuine zebra hide as the ideal place to leave his viewing feedback, to my great dismay. While I start to panic, the applicant turns to me and says: "Shit happens," and then moves on into the next room.

After an hour both laughing and crying, I manage to find a specialist animal hide cleaner who removes the stain and leaves the rug looking as good as new.

The invoice for this cleaning bill remains unpaid by the applicant. My motivation to assist this buyer is damaged but not destroyed: persistence is a trait all estate agents need.


I follow up yesterday's applicant, hoping for some positive feedback but he says he has decided not to purchase the house, despite his dog feeling very much at home there.


A sweet couple are registered with us in their search for a pied-à-terre in a mansion block near the park, of which I have a number that I can show them.

We arrange to meet at the first apartment and I immediately notice a strong smell of booze and a pair of slightly vacant expressions.

Feeling a bit drunk on the breath of these two, I take them into the flat — at which point they hang up their coats and proceed to the lavatory without checking with me whether they're allowed to use it.

A bit bemused, I ask them to join me in the kitchen where they sit on the sofa, kick off their shoes and start watching TV. Very lost at this point, I ask them if they want to see the next property as we have a busy schedule, to which they reply: "Please leave our home before we call the police."

After some clarification by myself of the address of the flat we are in, the tipsy pair realise it isn't their place, and rather gingerly make their way out of the block.

As it turns out, they don't have a flat in this street — and they don't even live in London — so they are well and truly lost — and so am I.

Christopher Pratt is a negotiator in the Battersea office of Douglas & Gordon (020 7720 8077).

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