To Westminster, the seat of government, where this afternoon several thousand men and women (but mostly men) have invaded the centre of London to block traffic and demand that the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, intervene to help their beleaguered profession. They come to claim, in a strident and very annoying manner, that their very calling of Estate Agency is at risk, threatened by the double whammy of plummeting house sales and the global credit crunch. “I’m bloody scared.” Confided Bumble Ward, a Foxtons employee who was among the many oily agents in cheap suits we met along the route. “I’ve seen nearly half of my colleagues laid off this year, and even though I pride myself on being more ruthless and mendacious than anyone else in the business, there are no guarantees. I don’t want to end up working as a barman or competing with Poles in the seasonal fruit picking market. They’re a lot less scared of hard work than I am.” As we passed Parliament Square in a heaving mass of bodies, most waving placards while talking on top of the range mobile phones, Bumble continued. “This government needs to intervene to safeguard my career. Not that I’ve voted Labour in my life, but we’re all victims here. These people are crying out for help through this downturn. As long as there are people interested in buying houses, society will need people like me to facilitate, hinder, delay, and just generally fuck up the purchasing process. But nobody’s been at my door looking to browse draughty loft apartments in months! If we can’t get any buyers then there'll be no one for me to lie to flagrantly and thereby earn my commission. How am I supposed to fill my stupid sports car with expensive petrol when sales are at zero? Answer me that!”
At this point Ward took a call from a prospective client, trying to convince them that a number of other
potential buyers were interested and they should up their offer by several grand. As he drifted back into
the throng, Bumble was drowned out by men with megaphones chanting: What Do We Want? An End
To Negative Equity! When Do We Want It? Now!
So far 2008 has seen branches of the property business closing at the rate of 150 a month, with an estimated 4,000 estate agents left out of work since the year began. House prices have fallen by more than 15% in the space of twelve months, while only the super-rich or Russian oligarchs are currently in a position to buy British property. Meanwhile the recent ‘Home Information Pack’ innovation has conspired to make the job even more difficult by revealing that a third or more of Estate Agents are functionally Indeed, the lack of specific qualifications required to progress in this occupation has many downsides. The only relevant skills for an estate agent were named in a recent survey as “being a wideboy” and “having the gift of the mouth”. This absence of ability means that many find themselves unemployable once they're booted out of high street offices. These men will then be forced to accept demeaning, minimum wage employment stacking supermarket shelves or ‘acting up’ as the wacky sidekick to a local radio DJ.
“Despite the large-scale protests I don’t hold out much hope for this profession in the long run.” Economist
and government consultant Tuppence Brakelight told Home Defence. “The same ethos that turns a yappy
teenager into the kind of man who will bribe a surveyor to tell you a subsiding bungalow is absolutely fine, is
also someone who remains entirely opposed to unionization. Without large scale backing this industry’s
demands will be laughed off by those in charge.”
In fact, today’s show of strength is a last-ditch attempt to get those with power to implement a number of measures suggested by the industry. These agents want citizens who can afford property to be legally compelled to stop renting and buy, whatever the state of the market. The government will also be asked to ensure banks grant mortgages for anyone who asks, no matter how small their income or obviously drunk they are when speaking with an advisor. Finally, a special ‘Estate Agent’s Grant’ could help the
profession through hard times by ensuring the men can afford career essentials such as hair gel and good quality bling, even when they haven’t made a sale in months. This afternoon’s march ended in Hyde Park, with a number of inspiring speeches from British property company bigwigs and American realtors along with an appearance from three failed contestants on TV’s ‘The Apprentice’. Afterwards HDUK again caught up with Bumble Ward who seemed exhilarated and full of optimism after his day of communal protest.
“I’m certain we got the message across.” He told us. “This country can’t help but feel sorry for Estate
Agents now they know the extent of our plight.” Bumble then returned to the street where he had illegally
parked his sports car, only to find it had been clamped, impounded, and subsequently destroyed in a
controlled explosion by anti-terror police.
Following the demonstration, insiders indicate that the government will be announcing a series of
measures to support unemployed Estate Agents over the coming months. While not actually acceding
to their demands, money will be forthcoming to aid in retraining, developing skills to help these men
enter new sectors working as telemarketers, binmen or rent boys.