Letting Agent Lexicon
Hannah KnowlesFollow author @sunshinesdaily
Hannah Knowles is a non-fiction commissioning editor in the book publishing industry. She would like not to move for a while if that's OK with you.
‘A room of one’s own’ Virginia Woolf opined a necessity.
Seriously, that woman called herself a writer? Not ‘a room’, Ginny. A well-presented one-room apartment, furnished to the highest standards, in an ever-vibrant location, all mod cons, excl. of bills.
Or it would have been if she’d had an estate agent penning her bon mots.
Weeks of flat hunting in the wage-sucking metropolis that is London has been an education in a whole new language: estate-agenteze. There are the ads on Zoopla that promise you a ‘stunning bijoux space’ in a ‘beautifully appointed’ location, and then there are the agents themselves – experts in doubletalk and existential statements that could be the solution to the meaning of The Matrix, or are possibly every bit as inane as they sound (my favourite was a response to me declaring myself unable to afford one particular flat: with a furrowed brow and pursed lip the agent said, ‘You need to think about how much it would mean to you’, to which I responded, bewildered: ‘It would mean I was broke and unable to pay my rent…’)
And then there’s the estate agent ladz chat, hard to fathom this still exists in 2014, but lo: ‘I’m the new guy in town, you might have heard of me?’ he swaggered. The only reply I could muster was: ‘Um. I… Er… Is that a washer-dryer or just a washing machine?’
It took a while to crack the nuances of this highly complex language, but allow me to save you some time and the confusion of going to view a place that you thought was going to be a ‘one-off opportunity’ only to find yourself in a damp-plagued shoebox.
Herewith a brief crib sheet to help you on your flat-hunting merry-go-round of hell…
They say: ‘Spacious’
They mean: ‘You can swing a cat in it’
They say: ‘Exceptionally spacious’
They mean: ‘You can swing an urban fox in it’
They say: ’24-hour concierge’
They mean: ‘The police are a constant presence in the building’
They say: ‘Easy walking distance to public transport’
They mean: ‘Dust off your hiking boots’
They say: ‘Roof terrace’
They mean: ‘Cigarette-strewn slab of concrete.’
They say: ‘Ideal for the busy professional’
They mean: ‘The neighbours are at it like rabbits 24/7; the shorter the amount of time you’re home the better’
They say: ‘Lots of period features’
They mean: ‘Could do with a paint job’
The pay off for swotting up on this garbled pitch-speak is knowing that when the entire market is flooded with claims of ‘stunning/amazing/unmissable’ flats, the real gems speak for themselves – and a good estate agent (and yes there is such a thing) knows to let them do just that.
And while it might be a painful trawl, you will find somewhere that’s right for you. As, after a seemingly interminable search, have I. And you’ll never guess; it’s a bijoux residence in a vibrant location, with period features and…