If there's one group of professionals who know their stuff, and are respected the world over, it's estate agents. And lion tamers. And if there's one estate agent that stands head and shoulders above the rest, it's undoubtedly David Miles from Fox & Sons in Peacehaven. The man's a property god. He can't actually open a front door with a key, and he tends to take you to the wrong flat most of the time, but apart from that he's top quality.
Lisa and I had the pleasure of spending an hour in Dave's company yesterday as part of my ongoing campaign to be beside the seaside (beside the sea) before the end of 2006 (by which time my car will be knackered from driving back and forth between Shotley Gate and Brighton). We'd persuaded my brother to come down for the day, bringing his mortgage application forms with him, for a tour of some of the finest one-and-two-bedroom flats that Sussex has to offer.
It began well, with an appointment at Fox & Sons where we met Dave. He didn't exactly convey authority so much as vagueness, but he was happy to tell us that we can move in whenever we like, because everyone's desperate to get out of Peacehaven. That was encouraging. So we headed to Collingwood Close for a look at a one bedroom flat with a stained toilet, belonging to someone who keeps swords on the wall. My brother asked about the loft space, only to be informed by Dave that people aren't that bothered about lofts these days. The property details said the loft was boarded over and had electric lighting and a pull-down ladder, but naturally we didn't get to see any of that, because Dave didn't consider it much of a selling point.
From there we went to see a two bedroom flat half a mile away. We didn't succeed in seeing it of course, because, having fiddled about with the key in the lock for a good two minutes, Dave failed to open the door. But it was the right key - Dave was sure about that. I joked that maybe it was the right key, but the wrong block. I had no idea how prophetic that was.
Next we went to a one bedroom flat near the seafront. Dave told us this was the most sought after block in Peacehaven, and there's no finer place to live, so we all piled out of the car with anticipation high... only for Dave to realise he'd brought us to the wrong block. Back in the car, and we soon arrived at the right block. Which wasn't quite so sought after. Dave rang the doorbell, the woman opened the door, and we all started to enter. At which point she announced that she wasn't expecting us. Cue slight confusion, before Dave realised he'd brought us to the wrong flat. But hey, the woman seemed quite happy to show us around anyway, even if her flat wasn't for sale.
Back outside, we walked down a few doors, went in a different entrance and climbed the stairs, where Dave began knocking on the door of a different flat. Some persistant knocking, calling, and puzzled looks, and a man eventually came down from the flat above with the news that we were knocking on the wrong door. Not a great surprise, considering Dave's track record. But we did eventually get inside the right property, which turned out to be very nice, with sea views and a rotting garage.
Fortunately we said farewell to Dave at that point, and headed to a nearby cafe for sausage sandwiches, where we met a local who advised us to avoid Collingwood Close at all costs. And he didn't even know about the stained toilet. Thankful for the advice, we made our way back along the coast road to meet Louise from Lampons. She was ten minutes late, but made up for it by being about as vague as Dave, and playing with the vendor's gerbil instead of showing us around the flat.
Our final appointment was with Paul from Phillip Mann, who'd arranged to meet us at the office at 1pm... where the girl on the desk told us that he'd decided to wait for us at the property instead. Naturally we had no idea where the property was, but that didn't stop Paul. Some directions and a map later, we successfully rendezvoused with him, and looked around a two bedroom flat in Telscombe Cliffs. Personally it was my favourite, but only because it had more space to store my vast quantities of junk, and is two minutes closer to Lisa. Although as an added selling point, it's not listed with Fox & Sons, so you don't have to deal with David Miles. If it had been, we'd probably never have seen it at all.