The moment that every estate agent dreads more than losing an instruction is losing a sale. There is a sense of loss that is almost impossible for mere mortals to grasp.
Estate agents tend to work entirely at their own risk.
They carry their own costs and work at risk so that if a sale falls through there is no provision to charge abortive fees and they are left entirely out of pocket. Therefore, no sale is a sale until contracts have exchanged, so that if you lose it, you can try and convince yourself that you were never banking on the sale anyway.
The actual truth is that it hurts like fuck and most estate agents would rather endure the loss of a limb or a close family member rather than lose a sale. When that call comes in, there is almost nothing you can do or say to stop it as you feel your guts being ripped out by a buyer who seems to have moved on surprisingly easily.
“Hello Jeff, how are you? How’s the packing going?” I wasn’t expecting a call from Jeff, having only recently updated him on the progress of the sale yesterday.
“Well thats just the thing. I don’t think I am going to be doing any packing.” Oh fuck. No, please for the love of God no!
“What’s happened?” I actually think he heard my voice break like a Barmitzvah boy growing testicles. Testicles which as it happens have at this moment triggered their in-built flight or fight mechanism, opting for the former and are now located somewhere so far inside of me it will take a surgeon to extract them.
“It’s my father.” Clearly he must have lost his father. The old dead relative thing might derail a sale but at this stage it is salvageable. Give em a couple of weeks to get over it, move is back on.
“Your father? Oh i’m sorry to hear of your loss.”
“Actually he died 6 years ago.”
“Oh! So what’s up?”
“Six years I’ve heard nothing from him and then last night, he appears to me in a dream.”
“In a dream?”
“Yes I could see him stood at the end of my bed as clear as day.” Oh for fucks sakes a ghost story.
“He looked at me and said ‘Jeffrey sonny jim you are not buying that house.’” Well this was a first, I was not expecting the undead to disturb my sale of number 2 Acacia Avenue. We all breathed a sigh of relief when the surveyor missed the Japanese Knot Weed, but I have to say we were genuinely not expecting a visit from Jeffrey Senior to fuck it all up.
“Are you sure? Perhaps he never meant you to take him literally?”
“Am I sure?! I think I would know my own dead father when I see him. No, he was absolutely clear, I am not to buy this house.”
“Did he say why? I mean it’s passed survey. Was your late father a surveyor?”
“I beg your pardon? Was he a surveyor?”
“Yes, was he a surveyor? You’ll forgive the unusual question, it’s just the first time that a ghost has caused a 5 house chain to fall through and I would like to understand his rationale if I could.”
“He was not a surveyor. As it happens, he was a builder.” Ah, there you go. Builders with their uninvited and unwelcome opinions messing with the head of an uneducated buyer.
“Yes a builder, 60 years man and boy. Very experienced. He says the gable end needs rebuilding and the hip tiles look like they are past their best. All in all, it’s obviously bad news and going to cost me a fortune. I’ve lost a fortune on the survey fees. Waste of time the whole thing. Had I known that Dad was still working I would have asked for his help sooner.”
“So you can summon him any time?”
“The dead are there to help us. Tell me Simon do you pray?”
“No, I’m not religious any more. But if you can have a word with your Dad and ask him for next week’s lottery numbers, that would be great. I’ve just lost a sale and I could do with the money Jeff.”
“It doesn’t work like that I am afraid, you can’t abuse God’s angels for your own financial gain.”
“So you can only use them for general building enquiries then?”
“You are being sarcastic and patronising now aren’t you? I think this conversation is over.”
And so it was over. My sale of Acacia Avenue vanished like a ghost in the night.