I am firmly of the mindset that my house is a fortress. It’s my safe place. Family and close friends are always welcome, especially if they come bearing white wine and gossip. Meter readers and tradesmen are tolerated, as long as they show up when they’re supposed to. Salesmen, market researchers and god-botherers shouldn’t even waste their energy walking up the path.
With that in mind, you can imagine how much it has pained me over the last few weeks to allow a constant stream of strangers into my home. They have poked in our wardrobes, commented on our decor, and traipsed mud and grass all over our carpets. One of them even stole something (yes, really. But don’t get me started on that).
‘Prospective buyers’, they call themselves. Usually they are polite enough to call our estate agents first, and then show up at a specified time. But sometimes they just spot the For Sale sign, and wander into the garden on the off chance that we’re in and they can have a look around. Sometimes they make an appointment but then show up early, ring the doorbell, and wake DorkySon up mid-nap. That never makes for a good introduction.
In the current property market I shouldn’t be complaining about having viewers, and I’m not really – we are genuinely very grateful to be getting people through the door at all – but that doesn’t mean that I can’t also share some of the conversational highlights from the most bonkers of the buyers to cross our threshold. Take it as a given that where I don’t have an answer to whatever inane comment or question I’ve just been given, I’m thinking something a bit sweary and rude.
Viewer: Was it you that put up those boards outside?
Viewer: Those brown boards in the garden.
Me: Umm yes. That’s called our fence.
Viewer: Well your cornicing is lovely, but I don’t know why on earth you painted the gold bits. I have a similar style in my house and it’s much nicer all in white.
Viewer: Why on earth do you have this as your bedroom? It’s so big and light, it’s obviously supposed to be the drawing room. Why waste it on a bedroom?
Viewer: Well we’d really like to put solar panels on the roof, but do you know how we’d ensure that the electricity was divided evenly between the three flats.
Me: Umm, no.
Viewer’s Wife: I think you’d probably just have to put on three times as many panels as usual.
Viewer: Christ, you’d need another roof to accommodate that.
Viewer, looking out the window: Oh dear, that’s tree is rather menacing isn’t it.
Me: Do you think so? We’ve always liked it.
Viewer: No. No, that just won’t do. Very menacing.
Viewer, settling into my rocking chair: Now I think I’ll just sit down and make myself comfortable for a minute.
Me, slightly taken aback: Mmmm, okay. Let me just go and let the next person in.
Viewer: No wait a minute, I wanted to ask you something. I was looking at your family tree. Is that a Cornish name?
Me: No I don’t think so.
Viewer: Oh, I think it might be. But anyway, where did you meet your husband?
Me: We were working together at the university.
Viewer: Gosh, that sounds very naughty!
Viewer: When was the house built?
Me: Oh I don’t know. Maybe 1850-something
Viewer: Gosh no, that can’t possibly be right. I’ve been looking at the maps of the area from 1870 and the house isn’t on there. And look at the shape of the windows. They couldn’t possibly be earlier than 1870.
And my very favourite of all…
Viewer: Is there anyone here from your estate agents?
Me: No, why, can I help?
Viewer: Well I don’t think they’re representing you very well. Come out here a minute (beckons me onto porch)
Me: What is it?
Viewer, pulling a compass out of his pocket: Look at this. The north point on your property particulars is off by 5 degrees. FIVE DEGREES! That’s not doing you any favours, is it?