The Life of a Lettings Agent

6 Dec

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be an estate or lettings agent? These people are renowned for being cut throat and soulless, and generally the scourge of the earth, but they do get to look inside lots of fancy houses, don’t they?

It’s not glamorous. At all. My friend Jo still does it, and for a year of my life, I succumbed to letting houses, first on Horsham, and then in Guildford. And it was horrendous.

Firstly, as a female lettings agent, you have to dress like a whore. Well, not entirely, but it is insisted that you wear heels at all times, lest you be confused for a lesbian or you be unsuccessful in fooling unsuspecting men to rent properties. Honestly. This is the sad reality. But the truth of the matter is that despite my feet throbbing when I got home (I mean what sort of foot is shaped in a point anyway, I ask you!) I was grateful for the stiletto. I remember one time when going to carry out a viewing in a flat, and not having been able to scope it out beforehand, thanks to some difficult tenants, I opened the door and was greeted by what looked like a horrific burglary. The hall seemed to have cheerios scattered everywhere, which were swiftly swept with said shoe, and upon entering the bathroom, the floor was littered with dirty boxers. Thanks lads. Stiletto became pants-removal-device, and they were kicked aside, crisis averted.

It’s a thankless task. Your are presented with houses that you would rather die than live in, and your smug bosses (one in particular) insist that they are perfect and habitable, so you have to pretend you agree. The Geordie experienced the same when looking for flats in the city, and was told by one cocky gobshite that the flat was perfect “if you didn’t want to spend much time in it”. Wow. What a unique selling point.

Small spaces become ‘deceptive ‘and ‘snug’. Small kitchens become ‘compact’. Bright rooms become ‘welcoming’ and all flats ‘are definitely going to get a professional clean’ if the words of some of the agents are anything to go by.

When i look back, some of the occasions seem like jokes. There was one creepy man who vacated a flat, and I and a colleague had to go round and take some photos. We actually had to wrap our scarves around our noses to even go in, as the smell was so foul, and upon opening the fridge, it looked like there had been a severe frost, and things had been frozen to the side. There had definitely been not even a cursory wipe in the full year he had lived there, but were we surprised, given the aroma of the man when he came in on rent day? Our main problem was how we were going to market the property. ‘Interesting smell’ probably wouldn’t have cut the mustard.

It’s no wonder I left. Not even the company car could keep me. So Miss Mallett, I salute you for the sheer amount of time you have spend dong such a thankless job. You are a stronger woman than me. But at least neither of us work with the king if the smug anymore!


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