Several tons of sand that was used to turn Horse Guards Parade into a beach volleyball arena for the Olympics has been dumped in my local park to create two new courts which, I predict, will quickly fill with dog poo and litter. In the meantime, free volleyball coaching sessions are being held on Saturday mornings and this has given me an idea for marketing my flat.
I need something to make my property stand out from the zillion others advertised online, so I've decided to advertise it with a gratuitous shot of a bikini-clad bum and the headline "Free volleyball for all tenants"!
The letting agent who's been marketing my flat for the past six weeks, with no success, insists it's not necessary for me to do anything at all, and she's refusing to give up even though I've tried to sack her. She points out that she's still getting inquiries, but I know these aren't going to result in any offers.
Some of the viewers shepherded around by the agent have seen so many flats they're almost comatose by the time they get to mine. I watch the dead-eyed zombies file past, their eyes glued to the ceiling, and my heart sinks. These poor souls have probably made a tentative enquiry about another property and before they know it they've been bundled into a branded mini (or possibly a VW) and forced to see everything on the market within a 10-mile radius, even though the agent is almost definitely aware from the outset that 99 per cent of them are unsuitable.
Why they do this I have no idea. Do they think that the more viewers they bring, the more they will impress the landlord? Or are they just hoping one of the viewers will agree to take a property just so that they can escape? At the end of one particularly excruciating viewing, where it was apparent to everyone except the agent that he was wasting his time, the viewer — who looked so knackered I wouldn't be surprised if she'd been traipsed round every vacant flat in London — actually asked: "Can we go now?" Mind you, it isn't always the agent's fault. Some people will insist on viewing properties even when you tell them at the outset they're not right for them. Whenever I've advertised the flat privately I try to avoid showing it to people I know it won't suit, but I still end up taking round quite a few time-wasters.
I received an inquiry from a woman who was interested in the flat for herself and her three small children. I told her it wasn't suitable because the living room was too small for a family. I also stressed that it was on a council estate. She said she was desperate and she was sure it would be fine, so I wasted my Sunday afternoon showing her round and the first thing she said when she walked into the flat was: "Oh dear, the living room's too small." She said she might be able to cope with the size, but she'd prefer to live in a private house: the estate made her uncomfortable.
I need to attract youngsters to my flat, groups of guys and girls who will live anywhere as long as it's cheap. Hence my genius decision to replace the photo in the advert of the teeny-weeny living room with a snapshot of a beach volleyball player in a teeny-weeny bikini. If that doesn't get the phone ringing, I don't know what will.
Mother-of-two Victoria Whitlock lets three properties in south London.