When you’re looking for a place to live, you can so often become jaded very quickly. To be fair, I’m jaded on so many things, but flat-searching is the latest of them.
I find it particularly interesting when you see pictures on a website and think, “Oh, that looks nice,” but the reality is so much different. Now, I can understand that some time might have passed since the pictures were taken – I’m willing to accept a couple of months – but to put up pictures from years ago is blatantly unacceptable and embarrassing for the landlord and the agent; well, it should be embarrassing, but the agent seems to be immune to such trivial human emotions.
I went to view a flat last night which, on paper (alright, on the internet) looked really lovely; a decent size, well-presented, and somewhere I could imagine myself living. I knew that furniture would now be in situ, as a tenant wa currently living in the property, but I was stunned by the difference. I actually met the tenant at the property, who told me that they had lived there for six years; so, as it turned out, the pictures were six years out of date, and it showed.
The walls were badly stained (I didn’t even want to ask), the entire property stunk of cigarettes, there were holes in the bathroom, the stairs didn’t have any carpet on and were in desperate need of a clean, and the shower – strike that, the entire bathroom suite – needed to be replaced, along with the condensation needing to be dealt with. I was genuinely amazed at how someone could willingly live in those conditions, and also how an agent could willing show pictures that were nothing like the reality.
The same day, I emailed the agent to explain that, whilst I liked the potential of the property, I wanted to understand what the landlord was planning to do prior to anyone moving in – a reasonable question, I would humbly suggest. I’d asked the agent who showed me round, but I don’t actually know if he knew his own name. Every question I asked with met with a blank stare and a “I don’t know.” There wasn’t even an offer to find out by calling the office, but they were all common sense questions anyway, and I wasn’t even the first viewing of the day, so I can’t imagine that I was the first person to ask those questions – and yet he just didn’t seem interested or engaged in any way. I mentioned that in my email to the agent as well, but they completely ignored that comment.
When they responded – to their credit, within just a few minutes of my email – they didn’t seem to entirely understand my point of view. I was told that, when I made a formal offer and paid a fee, I could set certain conditions which the landlord could consider as part of the application process. I explained that I wasn’t willing to make a formal offer until I knew what work was going to be done in the property; I will confess, at this stage, that I assumed the agents would know what work the landlord was planning to do, as I naively guessed that they would be talking to each other. I also naively assumed that the agent would show the intellectual curiosity to find this out so that when people inevitably ask as a precursor to making their decision as to whether they wanted to make an offer or not, the agent would have the knowledge at their fingertips.
Oh how wrong I could be. There are times I really despair; the lady I spoke to seemed rather bemused that I would want to find this information out before making an offer on a property that, in its current state, I would be absolutely amazed if anyone would willingly live in. She ended up not replying to one of my emails, possibly because she thought I was being troublesome for asking questions (I do hope so – I enjoy being troublesome), so I gave up in despair and decided to move on.
I have a couple more flat viewings booked in, so I’m staying vaguely positive that at least one of those will be suitable for what I need. If not, I’ll be looking online again for some more properties and seeing if I can find something that fits all my criteria – including looking in real life like it does in the pictures. Here’s hoping.