do you remember annette benning in american beauty? playing carolyn burnham. kick-ass real estate agent extroadinaire.

i am considering how wise it is to be rhapsodic about the state of the property market now given that a. i've yet to find a house and b. i'm really pretty inexperienced. but forgive me, considering i've spent quite some time on it, and i've managed to go around exploring islington, hackney, london bridge, lambeth, bermondsey etc.

you can tell because i've learnt how to judge real estate agents by how much of an asshole they are. take today for example. i was driven around by a nice blue-eyed boy (really!) with blonde hair. fumbled with the keys, didn't know where any of the addresses was, but really polite. puts on his seat belt. wore his suit out in the summer heat. now, i've been looking for houses myself. and unfortunately that has turned me into a bit of an arsehole too. i just kept thinking "this boy won't survive long in this business" and the clincher came when he couldn't park his mini. a fucking mini. and he was really really nice but i just didn't feel compelled to like or make any decisions. i enjoyed talking to him, and learnt that he'd been in the business for 2 and a half months. already he was starting to hate the 12 hour days and disgruntled house seeking assholes. which is why the theory that investment bankers are paid more because they work longer hours is of course economic fallacy 101. these people eat sandwiches between clients but i can't blame them after all time really is fucking money to them.

compare this with typical hard-bitten real estate agent. absolutely hates the job, but does it cause he pays the bills. one which i spoke to lost his previous job but is earning tons more now. he will typically go from saccharine enthusiasm to acerbic sarcasm as the session goes along. "this is what they call an easy let mate." "oh... i'd like to see you get better for 250." "do what you want mate, it's cool man, not a problem, i'm telling you that tons of people will be on this flat, maybe you don't understand cause you haven't had a house you really like taken away from you." go on, work the fear. that's what it takes to sell houses. that you won't get one because there are 30,000 other students looking and you'll end up sleeping on the streets. work it deep man, twist the knife, and maybe i'll give in. and then they call you the next day asking if you still want the "easy let." then the bitch in me awakens and say "no thanks, and i hope you sell the flat quickly." but they've worked their way up the food chain, and are used to taking pain. i'm innocent newbie look for flat for the first time meat to be devoured, and they probably test their crap unsaleable flats out on me. "like it?" it seems like the wonderful flats you see online are "all taken" by the time you call, so don't be mislead by them. yes, advertised �230 at clerkenwell, but then they tell you you'd be a fool to try for �230 at clerkenwell when you start looking.

to the economist, the rental market is rather asymmetric. the agent has most of the information about the other variables, he is the one that can draw up the demand schedule, and the supply, and the landlord and tenant are left grasping air. one more disadvantage of the tenant is the "lemons" problem, see "the market for lemons" by akerlof, to understand the implications of asymmetric information on the markets.

i do feel that as a tenant though, you can get a good deal. many flats are crap, or are fantastically furnished, but because they violate the rule of "location, location, location", their valuation gets massacred. these flats are a steal, if you're flexible. you hold all the cards, you get to bargain till the landlord starts crying and goes "take it, before nobody does!" to stay in covent garden, bloomsbury, you are paying for agglomeration externalities. you may not even need them, depending on how you view a house at. to be honest, a nice suburby area like islington is fantastic if you ask me, lots of groceries around.

yeah. so there i was. i wondered if it was right to be aspire to be an asshole, to walk around most days with my cock hanging out. like yeah man, i'm a fucking Adult, nobody fucks with me. it can get to your head, especially when you're thinking everyone's out to screw you. add that to a bit of conventional economics (don't give to beggars, it distorts their incentive to earn) and you've graduated with BSc. dickhead, all ready to swing (literally) into the adult world. and the marxist that was once in you died a horrible death. take all those che guevara shirts and paste fcuk over them.

the way i've written it though, is unfair. most people simply don't want to end up on the short end of the stick, and the motives of capitalism are in fact noble. i just felt like that esp when i was at sainsbury's and they were scanning my groceries. i always give my weakest smile to checkout girls, and i'm always reminded of "fast car" by Tracy Chapman (bless her bleeding heart). I always think they're dreaming, would rather be colouring in vowels, or running of with a guy to some tropical island when they've saved enough. well this girl smiles back. good she's human. so i strengthen my smile. oh made someone's day didn't you, don't it make you feel better. it takes you a bit sometimes to remember that they are human. for example, the foxton's receptionist had a lovebite. someone had an enjoyable night last night i imagine. probably explains why she was the happiest person i met today. scanning groceries is the fucking most mind-numbing thing ever. well, so is screwing in the 105th screw of the right front wheel in ford's production line. so why should i EVER be entitled to a job that i like. fuck just pay me to clock in 12 hours and i'll FUCK OFF and do something i really like. i don't see why people should expect more, and most of the time they don't. some people do, and the key to making it is not to accept that you have to do this shit and run a business or a larger organization where at least things aren't that mundane. people have the opportunity to progress, no one is keeping you as a checkout girl. i can't help thinking though that things aren't that simple. maybe with new technology checkout girls won't be necessary. and that's good (one less boring job in the world). but yet again it's bad (one less job in the world). economically it's good (at least you're not unproductively using labour). i like small convenience stores for example, but something tells me (maybe it's economic intuition) that life would be better and cheaper if everything was sold in tescos and sainsbury's but i just don't want that to happen, but i think someday it will, and nobody will mind.

i think it was just a particularly hot day where i was a bit pissed off. especially when you can't reconcile lalaland to reality. just one of those days where i think i don't have a god given right to be where i am, nor to get a flat for less than 250 quid. a humbler day.

in a world where logic works... i can go back now and use ito's lemma...


mich said...

what's agglomeration externalities?

mich said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mich said...

And ito's lemma?

Now if you would for a moment close your eyes and imagine with me ... that the 2nd agent had a lovebite.

Doesn't change a thing, does it.

He was a fucker because of his behaviour, not his job that suppresses his kind heart against his poor little will.

I don't buy the argument that certain jobs force you to be nasty. If someone has to resort to nastiness to sell a house, it just says he's a lousy salesman. I've seen reasonable agents do well.

Whereas the checkout girls and recep were just nondescript. They didn't actually do anything pissing off.

I really want to slice off the 2nd guy's tongue for you, btw. Asshole.

Jesse said...

hmm, well you can check for "Marshallian" or "Jacobian" externalities. just why people want to put up in the same crowded place even though its filthy i guess.

Jesse said...

It's not an argument that a job makes some people nasty, more an empirical observation, i agree, people have absolutely no need to be nasty. Sometimes though perfectly fine people get inducted in by people who have been in the same job and they are taught pressure cooker tactics. impressionable young people who are simply eager to learn think it's alright to practice them "for the purpose" of the job. it happens in life, it's documented by michael lewis in "liar's poker" and it happens in the army, for example.

Jesse said...

hmm, maybe girls like bad boys, so 2nd agent had a great night too=) no it doesn't change a thing, though if it were mean ass female agent maybe.

and ito's lemma is basically taylor's approximation from calculus, applied to random variables. you can't throw away the second order term because the square of the derivative (as far as it exists) of a random process, such as brownian motion, with respect to the change in time is exactly non random and equal to the change in time.

ito is the japanese guy who discovered the lemma (unfortunately, it's more popularly known as a lemma because some other bugger with the same name ito had discovered a theory in algebraic fields). a lemma is usually subsidiary to a larger proposition, but there is nothing "subsidiary" to ito's lemma. asians can think!

and checkout girls have always been a peeve of mine. we can self scan stuff out of the library, but of course we have to settle the fact that people will try to steal groceries. but i'm sure there'll be a way someday.

jax said...

well...agents are human too... they just try to go up the survival chain...the nice, inexperienced agent may turn out like that after some time too!

try slicing off my tongue mich...after all, i'm the one who's supposed to be looking for the house with jesse but i cant be around! haha

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