It’s hard to believe but…
…estate agents are people too.
We have hopes, fears, dreams, families, weight-loss targets, murky pasts, future plans, tans-from-a-bottle, yesterday’s leftovers in the fridge, insecurities, trainer collections, dental appointments. Heck, deep down we’re not that dissimilar to real people.
But sometimes we forget that.
We go through the house moving process dozens of times a month, it is, rather literally, all in a day’s work for us. We take it in our stride, pride ourselves on our stoic professionalism, do not flap under pressure. Sometimes the process frustrates, sometimes people lie, sometimes surveys come up bad, sometimes dates don’t match up. We get it sorted. No drama. No judgment. Another deal in the bag. Pow! Off down the gym.
Until it’s our own move. Then we fall to bits like everyone else.
Because, as estate agents can be prone to forget, houses are not transactional items, and moving house is not a business deal. Moving house is, most of the time, the mark of a massive life event. The thrilling start of a new era. The end of a relationship. The death of a loved one.
My least favourite scene in Fight Club is that bit where Ed Norton blows up his condo and says: ‘That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was me!’ He’s pretending. His point is that his home isn’t him, it’s just a possession. But I contend that he’s wrong. Our homes are more than that. They keep us warm and dry, give us security, they host our friends and family, they are an enormous part of what builds our current lives and future memories. They look after us until our kids leave home, then we pass them on to the next excited young family so they can be looked after too. They sometimes rise in value and sometimes fall, but they never stop being homes ahead of being assets.
Therefore, when I run for Prime Minister, one of my manifesto pledges is that I will make it compulsory for estate agents to move house every 5 years as a minimum. That way we won’t forget how horrible it can be when it goes badly and how wonderful it is when it goes well. How much it matters.
I reckon empathetic people make the best estate agents, just like they also make the best humans. Moving can be a stressful process, but it needn’t be if it’s run by decent people with empathy, honesty and diligence. I wonder whether that might have also been true of Brexit.