Take It As Red

"Blogging is, by its very nature, erratic and irregular, feverish effort punctuated by random silence, a conundrum wrapped in a contradiction wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an unclosed em tag. " - The Poor Man

Saturday, December 4


Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck.

You know, I really don't want to hate Holland and the Dutch, much as it may appear I do want to - but bloody hell, they make it hard not to.

We are looking for an apartment to buy, as in a couple of weeks the socialists move out to a more central location and we either have to find somewhere else or pay double our current rental for the whole building. A few weeks ago, I saw the ideal house - in our neighbourhood, perfect for us in everyway, location, price, size, everything. It had previously been marked sold on the house board, but I noticed that it was for sale again. I looked at the agents' website and the price had been dropped because the sale had fallen through, so I rang the estate agent (makelaar). She wasn't there, could they get her to call back? I waited two days, no return call, so I called again and made an appointment to view. The earliest they could do was today, Friday, more than a week after my call. No weekend viewings, no evening viewing: "Ik kan niet doen".

My partner had to take time off work, at his most busy period, to come and look at it. So he booked the time off and worked late and early all week to make up the time. It's finally Friday afternoon and we're all set to go see it and we're quite excited and optimistic about it. So I called the makelaar to make sure she'd be there, again she can't come to the phone, can she call me back? I'm doubtful, but say OK, and miracle of miracles she calls me back an hour later.

"Are we still on for 5 o'clock?" I ask. "The house is sold." she says, "but I can keep you on the list" as though she's doing me a massive favour. "But you just told me it's sold. Did you mean sold or just under offer?" "Sold" she replies. I'm ashamed to say it but I lost my temper and shouted at her. "Then what's the bloody point in putting us on the list if it's already sold! Didn't you know this before you let me waste a week waiting? You've wasted both mine and my partner's time, aren't you even going to apologise?" No reply. I slammed the phone down on her.

Now, a house sale takes a while. There is no way she would not have known that a sale was pending when I made the original appointment to view. If we had turned up for the viewing today, would she have even been there? I doubt it. If I hadn't called would she have let us know? I doubt that too. I am utterly amazed that they are able to sell anything at all given the appalling customer service from estate agents here.

Makelaars are open only from Tuesday to Friday betwen 9 and 5, ( because of course Mondays are sacred, heaven forbid anyone should want to do business on a Monday) and absolutely, positively will not arrange a viewing outside these times. How on earth is anyone with a job supposed to find a house? When you do finally fight your way through the thicket of their obstructiveness they deliberately mess you about.

I am so angry about this. We were about to spend a *lot* of money, of which the makelaar would have taken a tidy sum in commission for which she would have done bugger all...

It's so easy and lazy to keep comparing the UK and NL unfavourably to each other, but in this instance I have to. In the UK estate agents are considered to be the lowest of the low; the only people lower in public estimation are tabloid journalists and politicians (not necessarily in that order). But UK estate agents are models of efficiency in comparison. They'll make an appointment when you can make it: their income depends on satisfying the customer and selling the damned house, so they will often bend over backwards to work around your time obligations. Many estate agents negotiators are women, who work part-time at evenings and weekends because it fits in with their commitments: thus it works out well for everyone.

Now we have to go through the whole process again: scouring all the housing publications, trying to get some sense out of the makelaar, taking time off work etc, and all in a foreign language. The trouble is it all falls on me because of my partner's work commitments and travelling time; and my Dutch is very basic and completely insufficient to deal with something this complex. Add to that the previously mentioned hostility to foreigners and you've got a clusterfuck waiting to happen. As it just did.



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