Property Voices: The exhausting cycle of house viewings

Elisha Mans

Elisha Mans - Credit: Archant

Finding the perfect rental property can be a time-consuming process, as Harpenden student Elisha Mans discovered.

Have you ever had to pretend to an estate agent that you are vaguely interested in a property when in fact as soon you stepped through the door you realised it was a massive 'no'?

It's potentially one of the most uncomfortable situations, along with small talk on public transport and forgetting someone's name, but it's all part of finding a new home.

Looking around student rental properties, there seems to be a disproportionately large number of horrible houses. Okay, there is a stereotype that students will settle for anything, but some of the properties are so bad that you almost have to laugh.

You see 'bedrooms' that have so much mould that you feel that you would get asthma within days. You see 'kitchens' that are so grimy that no food preparation could ever take place. You see 'bathrooms' that are yellowing and have a smashed window that has been taped up with bright blue duct tape.

And, through all of this, you (and the estate agent) have to pretend that you can see some sort of living potential in the house.

There is a sort of unspoken code which ensures that you have to nod enthusiastically and 'mm-hmm' when the estate agent explains that the 4cm sq of floor space gives the house a really 'cosy' feel. You must not verbalise what you know everyone is thinking, but instead exchange subtle sideways glances with your housemates. You must walk through the whole house thinking about how you're never going to get those minutes back.

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What happens then? The group shuffles out of the house and (gratefully) breathes in the fresh air. The estate agent hands over a leaflet of information that you throw away as soon as they have driven off in their Mini Cooper. You immediately reopen Rightmove and compose yourself before once more scrolling and praying that there might actually be a liveable house in the area.

There really is nothing more draining than this property viewing cycle.

But then it all changes. You find it. The house that actually suits you.

It has five bedrooms that all could actually accommodate a human being. It has a kitchen that looks hygienic and even features a table to sit at. The bathrooms (not one but two!) look like they have been cleaned in the last 40 years.

Unfortunately, by this point the house has had 15 viewing in the last two days and the estate agent 'regrets to inform you' that someone has beaten you to it and reserved the perfect house. How is this possible? Do we all become such slaves to Rightmove that we never miss a new opportunity to see a property, even by a day?

And so, once more, you return to the endless cycle as more and more people seem to be joining the hunt for that perfect property.