Having all this time being unable to work has given me the opportunity to reflect on some of the things that I didn’t like about work. Namely, certain clients! I don’t know what the statute of limitations for libel is, so I will try to keep this as anonymous as possible:
Firstly, viewing a villa with a group of 7 people (2 families who wanted to buy a large property together to share holidays). We arrived at the house of Monsieur Propriètaire in a convoy of cars, I introduced everybody, and the problems started. Two of the group started wandering around the garden and Monsieur P (quite rightly) wanted everybody to stay together for the grand tour. I rounded everyone up, we started the tour, they began snapping photos (without asking) and two of them stayed downstairs while the rest of us continued the tour. Monsieur P was becoming more and more agitated and said that if they didn’t stay together he would have to ask me to cancel the viewing. I explained the situation and one of the couples decided to take this as an insult and said they would go and wait in their car. The tour continued but then Monsieur P looked out of the window and spotted that they were using a laptop in the car and convinced himself they were part of a gang of international criminals who were checking out his property with a view to robbing it later. The tour ended. They did not buy the house - or burgle it!
Usually I ask as many questions as possible so that I can match the right properties to the right clients, but there are two questions that I would love to ask but daren’t - in this day and age asking about height and weight would not be politically correct but it is actually pretty important! A few years ago my old agency sent me to meet a couple who had asked to view 2 specific properties they had seen on the website. To say Mrs Client was plump would be an under-statement, and she also used 2 walking sticks. The first property just happened to be a bungalow which seemed perfect for them but even that was too much for her and she parked herself at the kitchen table while her husband visited the house with me. I then very tactfully tried to explain that I didn’t think the second property would suit them (it was a 3 storey village house with very steep steps) but they insisted on seeing it - she didn’t even get out of the car! A funnier experience happened with another couple - the husband was an extremely ‘well-built’ ex rugby-player and despite my warning to be careful of the raised doorstep, he toppled over in slow motion and rolled gracefully into the hall. Luckily his beer-belly cushioned his fall. (If ever I give up this job I will become an actress as I managed to express concern despite the fact I was inwardly crying with laughter!). Very tall clients can also cause problems - ‘Character Stone-built Village Houses’ are often a maze of different levels and low beamed ceilings and nobody over 6’ tall should even think about living in one - I now carry plasters and arnica gel in my handbag.
Other problematic clients are the ones who know exactly what they want - they turn up armed with maps, compasses, rejecting anything that isn’t facing the right direction (naturally at my old agency all the properties faced South or South-East…) and one couple were so fixed on buying a house with blue shutters that I was tempted to buy a pot of paint. And then there are the clients who have no idea what they want - very recently I spent 3 days with a couple who wanted a 2 bed house near the sea, then decided that because of global warming (ie raised sea levels in 50 years time) they preferred to be in Perpignan centre, then they wanted an extra bedroom for work, then they decided that a smaller town would be better but it had to have a train station, and finally they added that they needed secure parking. Needless to say, despite several viewings I didn’t manage to find what they were looking for - and I don’t think I ever will!
So that is a brief look at the worst side of property finding; next time - rental nightmares!