Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Sense of Humour Failure

It started so well but has gone badly wrong.

I feel worn out by wrangling and chasing and cajoling. Everyone around me is creating a massive shitty pile of stress built out of sheer professional inadequacy. Gas men, agents, tenants, even some work contacts are getting in on the act. And they're usually the more reliable ones.

Would the gas men please turn up, or at least return my calls?

And it would be nice to think their estimates are actually based on genuine equations of measurable service and parts rather than random figures plucked from the air because Londoners are gullible enough to swallow most prices. I've had estimates that range from £120 to over £300 for the same job. Incidentally, a job that R conducted last year in Hereford and cost him a whole £75.

Isn't that ridiculous?

And when you book them in at such vastly inflated prices, at least they could have the decency to turn up?

Would the agents return my calls, do their jobs and find me a tenant?

I thought paying an agent handsomely for them to let your flat was supposed to take the headache out of it? I've had to appoint a second agent, because the first one was no good. I'm now on the verge of appointing a third. There must be a better way. But there isn't. So the agents all get to earn money for talking nonsense and driving funky cars around town, badly.

At least in advertising we don't do the funky cars thing...

And would the would-be tenants please turn up for their fucking appointments?

Do you know the effort we put into 'hidying' the house every single time one of you is due round?

Clothes fresh from the wash but not yet put away get shoved in the bedlinen trunk. Papers and books get shoved in desk drawers and slid under the bed. Stuff gets piled into cupboards, cushions get plumped, hallways get hoovered, and I even have gone so far as to make fresh coffee and spray the bathroom and bedroom with a subtle bergamot room scent which I picked up in Paris for some ridiculous reason.

When would I ever use something like that?

Now, it seems...

Or, if they love the flat so much they almost put in an offer but retract on the basis that they have asthma and the property is on a fairly busy road, then why, please, did you bother coming to see it in the first place?

Everyone just seems to be getting in my way, not doing what they're supposed to be doing, or being deliberately antagonistic and unhelpful.

When these people are strangers and have no value from knowing me I understand. It's a London Thing. Abhorrent but true. But when they are people that I am paying a lot of money too, or people I have bent over backwards for on so many occasions myself, I really, really resent it.

So, no, spotting fashion designers and watching archaic military rituals at buckingham palace on your way into work does not necessarily guarantee a good day.

But I'm moving to Uganda so they can all fuck off.


Marie said...

I had similar problems both home and in Egypt. Once the landlord was showing my place to a new tenant, and not only did they not show, no one even called! I'd cleaned up and I waited all afternoon. What's with that?

Anyway, did you try, whatsit, gumtree or craigslist? It's dicey, but I used to get tenants on craigslist. Some good, some bad.

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

No one ever calls when they don't turn up. Out of 9 appointments today (4 agents, 5 punters) 2 didn't turn up. That's over 20%.

Totally rubbish.

And it's been on gumtree for weeks. It's also now on craigslist, tnt and spareroom.

In fact, we had so many agents today R gave a set of keys to one of them and we can't remember who it was....

dk said...

But what price have you put it on gumtree at? And is it still via an agent. People don't like going through agents because then they have to pay the agents to sign the lease etc etc. Just drop the price by what you would be paying an agent and do it yourself. (also Gumtree is now so spammed by fake ads you have to make it very clear in your headline you're legit)

The 2 bedroom flat I'm just leaving rented within 20 minutes of being advertised...

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Dave what do you mean still via an agent? Gumtree et al are all private ads, and all at £75 pcm less than the agent advertised price.

It was originally valued too highly - I have realised that now - but that expertise is what you go to an agent for and they were the ones that rated it so stratospherically.

You have to also understand I did not buy to let. If I had done, I probably would have bought a completely different place, certainly not on a 110% mortgage, and therefore would maybe be in a position of more flexibility right now. As it is I stand to lose several hundred pounds a year on this scenario and that's before the boiler blows up or whatever disasters could befell me.

So it's in my interest to squeeze every last penny out of it.

But I'd rather hold on to it than sell the thing so I still know how lucky I am to have some sort of foothold on the ol' property ladder in london. And it's now rented. So I'll stop moaning.

dk said...

"Gumtree et al are all private ads..."
What? No they're not, what adverts are you looking at? 90% of the ads for flats (ie not flatshares) on gumtree are through agents. And consequently they're not cheaper - they're the same, because the same flats are advertised on the agents own web-pages. If one is lucky enough to find a private one, then they tend to be a little cheaper cos the landlord is saving himself 10-15% on an agent, which is precisely my point. A proper private flat ad goes in a day. Now you've had to reduce price and you've still got to pay an agent.

And as for expertise... well 11 years in London I've yet to meet a single agent with even half a clue. Anyone can value a flat - it's a piece of piss. You're right, they were the ones who assessed it wrongly so high - because they work on %ages and it's in their interest to do so in the hope that they find a mug. But you were on a short timescale so you had to drop to realistic levels.

The bottom line is i fail to see how any of the agents have benefitted you, They're costing you money - not helping if you need to squeeze every penny out - and in the time you've wasted dealing with the crap ones you could have done it yourself 3 times over.

Anyway - at least it's done now! Hopefully if the boiler does blow up the agent will actually be reachable and fast moving...

Anne-Marie Weeden said...

Maybe I wasn't clear... 'Gumtree et al' being private referred to my advertising the flat on these sites, not every other ad on these sites.

Hence it being up there for £75 pcm less. Which was my choice and not through an agent so it's exactly what you've been recommending anyway.

And Gumtree generated a fair bit of interest, but not 'three times over', and bottom line, no offers.

So I have rented it, through an agent, for around 75pcm more than via Gumtree. Given the difference between a 5% management charge (the Gumtree scenario) and a 12% let and mgmt charge actually leaves me better off.

Yes, they are all shit, but the bottom line is I need them.

I need them because I work full time and simply don't have time to sort it all, I need them because in four weeks time I will be thousands of miles away when something blows up or tenants hand in notice, I need them because I don't want to give that sort of job to a friend to do, I'd rather make it a stranger's responsibility, etc.

So, there have been plenty of mistakes along the way but there are also plenty of reasons why agents have, for me at least, become a necessary evil.

So until you set up Keay & Sons Property Agents I shall be forced to continue upon this sordid path!