We drove to the beach house to take advantage of this string of hot days. It's still quiet here mid-week, but the busy season is coming.
An old corner cafe (it used to be Anime Del Mar) at the Rye end of Point Nepean Road that has lain empty for some time has reopened as a 'Real Estate Agent and Cafe' under the old Briggs Shaw banner. Excuse me for laughing. Just imagine: the unique skillsets of verbose menu creators merging with those of real estate agents to create a newly enticing style of property prose: Solid red brick cottage on a bed of concrete topped with sundried terra cotta tiles and a side of julienned palings and finished with an aromatic herb garden. Then the price: 1650000, devoid of dollar sign or decimal point so that it looks cheaper. On the other hand, perhaps you'd just get a brash waiter with a clipboard and a red tie refusing to take no for an answer to his question of whether you want garlic bread - before you'd even sat down and gotten comfortable.
I didn't laugh long. We arrived at the beach house to find an auction board out the front complete with the phone number of the agent (not Briggs Shaw) and his name.
I called him.
- Mike Phillips speaking.
- Hi Mike. (Kitchen Hand) here. How much to buy my house?
- What house would that be?
- The one with your name on it out the front on the auction board. I didn't know I'd put it up for sale. Maybe my wife did. Maybe the bank did. You never know these days, do you? So what's it worth? How much are you selling it for? And what's your commission? I don't remember asking you.
He was mortified and promised to break a couple of legs. I said probably one would be enough. It's hard to put up signs in the wrong place with your leg in a cast. In fact, it's hard to put them up anywhere. The sign guys came along in the afternoon and moved the sign to a house down the street. They took about ten seconds to do it.
Of course, it didn't bother me in the least. Mistakes happen. Also, I used to write for a real estate agent years ago, when selling a house meant selling a house. Then the boom came along and houses sold themselves and people had fist-fights at auctions to determine who would go into debt for a million dollars. (Throughout the boom, agents still made the same commissions, however, in order to save up for the next crash - which is why the Federal Government is right now bailing out Ford Australia, General Motors Australia and Toyota Australia but not Barry Plant, R. T. Edgar, Hocking Stuart or Kay & Burton.) Mike Phillips rang me back in the evening to apologise again. He seemed to be admitting that while there is a range of minor real estate agent indiscretions, selling the wrong person's house is one of the really big ones.