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Oh What A Circus For The Ringmaster To Control

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Oh What A Circus For The Ringmaster To Control

I am sure your estate agent will tell you how busy they have been of late. Likewise your solicitor, financial advisor and indeed probably everyone else that helps make up the many important cogs of our unique housing market we are now experiencing.

Some years ago, I described the role of an estate agent as being similar to that of a ringmaster. At the time I thought it was very apt until a friend pointed out it is defined in the dictionary as being a person directing a circus performance. I can guess some of you might agree and it also made me smile too, although I will refrain from repeating my response when he asked if I was the clown.

This time a year ago, the housing market had just reopened after the first lockdown. It was a cautionary start with strict safety protocols and all concerned were understandably hesitant. Many had doubts about the future and there were alarmist predictions about the demise of house prices. Who would have thought 12 months later, agents would be complaining about a shortage of properties to sell, prices would be booming, houses would be selling in competitive circumstances on a regular basis and solicitors would be swamped with instructions, while all demanding there must be an exchange of contracts and completion by the end of June. Perhaps when the stamp duty saving could be up to £12,500, one can appreciate why many seem to be getting rather excitable, although in some circumstances it’s not always for the right reasons. So in my humble but experienced opinion, this is where estate agents can really earn their keep by facilitating the whole process, a bit like the ringmaster in the centre of the Big Top.

We all love to admire property, especially anything that is a bit out of the ordinary or we aspire to own. Even as a casual observer, you look at an estate agent’s window to see what’s for sale, and what’s actually selling. Either way, you are one of the crowd watching as events unfold. Then there are the performers. Some are only at the start of the show, and then bow out, some arrived with great bravado such as the acrobats who we watch with awe but don’t stay around for long but maybe make a fleeting appearance at the end. Others use all their coordination to juggle throughout and we keep trying to work out how they do it. Then you see some of them also standing tall on their stilts, as if juggling itself wasn’t hard enough. Then there are always those using their charm like burlesque dancers criss-crossing the stage attracting attention wherever they go. Ditto, the magicians who make us wonder how they manage to achieve what looks to be the impossible without us realising that it has taken years of practice. And who would be a fire eater? Well, not me for one.

And in the midst of all this stanza is the ringmaster, directing operations, carefully watching to ensure all the participants performance as they should and if they don’t, bringing them back into line. Sometimes it doesn’t always happen as it should, but you get there in the end. Rather like Eric Morecombe playing the right notes in the wrong order with concert pianist and conductor Andre Previn. As an estate agent in 2021, the secret is knowing which performer is doing what and when. The trouble is, it is not always as obvious as you might think.

Tim Waring FRICS Head of Residential at Lister Haigh.