You sometimes have to wonder if estate agents live on the same planet as the rest of us. We see a shack in need of demolition, they see a top class property and wonder why they're not fighting off expectant buyers. We headed to Rye on Saturday sans Mac and the dogs as Matt and Lydia promised to take them all out “for a run” and soon found ourselves standing outside an estate agents in Cinque Ports Street. There were three gentlemen inside who were all but beckoning us in – I think business must have been slow that day. Within minutes David and I both had a steaming cup of tea in front of us and were in the hands of Michael, the senior agent while the other two skulked over by the filing cabinets.
David stressed our criteria which is a house: big enough for a family of three and three boisterous dogs, close enough to the harbour/river/sea so we don’t have to climb in the car to get wet, in need of some “serious” doing up. Michael’s glasses gleamed with excitement as he turned to his less spotty colleague “Pass me the details on the Henderson house.”
The picture was ambiguous: all you could see was the front door and some trailing ivy. “Three bedrooms, excellent position, close to the beach with all amenities close by, structurally sound, wonderful garden, vendors are taking offers…..” Michael said as he slid the specifications across the desk to us. Just as we both huddled over them they were removed from our vision. “I tell you what, it’s a property that’s best viewed” Michael continued as he scooped up a set of keys from his drawer and bustled us out into the street again. As we followed his Lexus along the road I turned to David and asked him what the hell had happened. His glazed look told me that he had no idea either.
The front door was beautiful, pea green with brass numbers, letter box and knocker. The bedrooms (master bedroom no bigger than our bathroom, box room and an even smaller room that would give Junior Dog claustrophobia) were, erm, there. The “excellent position” meant that the front door didn’t open up onto the gravel car park of the pub next door. The “beach” was in fact close by but was more of a mudflat and full of bikes. And yes, “all amenities” were close by – a hair salon straight out of the 50s, the aforementioned pub that David said (in a whisper) looked like it was patronised by Hells Angels, a Happy Shopper and, right slap bang opposite, a holiday park – you know the ones, the caravans are right on top of each other and lined up in serried ranks that was already full of yelling families and revving motorbikes. In March. The structure was sound, if you ignored the fact that the bathroom had no roof (and a mustard yellow bathroom suite) and I can only say I was pleased it wasn’t raining as we spent an inordinate amount of time in there as we were shown the “stunning view” from the (cracked) window. I know we only want a little house, an escape from London but come on! You couldn't escape from anything in there, certainly not the woodworm.
“There’s been a lot of interest” Michael preened as he flapped with the papers he’d bought with him. David did his best to look enthusiastic – as he whispered to me while we were in the grubby kitchen “he’s brought us all the way over here” but couldn’t resist asking “what, in this house?” with an incredulous look on his face as he leant on the wall in the hallway. And knocked the plaster off.
Needless to say, we didn’t put an offer in. Michael looked horrified at this news and said “Well, I wouldn’t think about it for too long, we’ve got at least three definite offers, erm, in the offing”. David assured him that we would try very hard not to think about it at all and we headed off to the nearest pub. And not the one next door.