Terrible estate agents’ photographs: excrement, horses and toilets in the kitchen
You thought everyone trying to sell a house knew the golden rules of painting the walls magnolia, tidying away the junk and displaying fresh flowers? Think again. A new book celebrates some of the least attractive purchases on the market.
Britain occasionally seems like a country obsessed with selling houses. There is a small industry based around telling you how to do it, including endless TV shows, magazines and books. The advice they have to give almost always seems thuddingly obvious, but judging by the images collected in Terrible Estate Agent Photos, perhaps it isn’t obvious enough. In between informing the nation about the necessity of decluttering and choosing neutral paint schemes for the home you’re attempting to sell, Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer should clearly have also underlined the importance of not leaving a large pile of excrement in the middle of the floor. When sharing her expert advice on the most appealing way to renovate a kitchen, Sarah Beeny should apparently have mentioned that it’s best not to have a working lavatory, complete with toilet paper, in the middle of it. Renovating your front door can give your home that all-important “kerbside appeal”, but if you haven’t got time to repaint it, at least ensure that the front door is where it should be: there is a chance that potential buyers may be put off if you have just boarded up the entrance.
In fact, there’s something vaguely heroic about sheer indifference shown here towards “kerbside appeal” and the “wow factor”. It’s not just the sellers who are implicated: it’s the agents. You have to question the commitment of the person who elected not to bother moving the trampoline that had blown into the tree, but to just take a photo as it was. And sometimes, there’s a commendable honesty about them too. While some of the photos clearly have a story behind them (what’s that horse doing there? How did the loft get so full of rubbish that the hatch leading to it is bulging with the stuff?), others surely don’t. The bedroom with the unmade bed and the pair of jeans in the middle of the floor; the desolate, rainy patio with the football: these are what houses actually look like when real people live in them. The sellers could have made a bit more effort for the camera, but at least they weren’t trying to flog anyone an unattainable dream of a spotless and perfect life.