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A week in the life of an international estate agent

publication date: Feb 20, 2007
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author/source: James Wyatt
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I’ve had a large number of calls and messages from a number of (clearly bored pre-Christmas) Agents wanting to know if they can have my job. On occasions, you are welcome to my alarm clock at 4am. On the other hand, I don’t fancy swapping a nice Caribbean beach (whilst working naturally) for Preston or Middlesborough. Even though I’m sure they are jolly nice places! I’ve also been asked countless times where I go on holiday what with spending a fair amount of time traveling. Well, you nosey lot, generally anywhere I haven’t been before. I like visiting European cities for short breaks with lots of culture – particularly the unusual Eastern European destinations. Longer holidays are spent with a good book by a pool, and the children in kids club…

2006 was left behind with a crazy trail of 87 flights and over 100,000 miles of travel. Friends frequently gasp – “you’ll be able to use all those airmiles to take the kids on holiday”. Sadly not, low cost airlines like to reward your patronage with ever less legroom (or am I still growing?) and ever tighter schedules to stick to. Easy winner of last years travel low point was a Stansted to Birmingham diversion at 1am, with my car not very conveniently still at Stansted.

So, New Years Resolution – travel a bit less. Like most New Years resolutions, I found it hard. I became irritable and developed a nervous twitch. 9 days in, I got on a plane to Portugal.

Monday.

I’m staying in the pretty fishing town of Tavira in a carbuncle hotel – modern, functional, 4 stars and mine for a laughable £10.19 a night (and that included the taxes!). Breakfast is included too, so after filling up and taking a few bits and bobs for a lunch on the go, I head off down the Algarve coast. A worrying warning light on my titchy little hire car goes on and off all the way to Vilamoura. I meet up with Alan Ellis who is marketing a fab new apartment complex at the Victoria Clube de Golfe where the Portugal Masters will be held on the Arnold Palmer course for the next three years. Posh flats from 500,000 upwards seem good value.

A quick dash half an hour down the motorway, and that pesky warning light is now on all the time. It’s red and exactly like the one in my Mercedes which warns you of the imminent death of the engine. Sod it, it’s a hire car and I have a tight schedule. I arrive at Amendoeira Resort being built by Oceanico to see progress. I hadn’t seen this since last August and the golf courses are formed and building underway.

Not much time, so on to a meeting at Parque de Floresta located towards the Eastern end of the Algarve. This established resort is still building new properties after 10 years of gradual development, and there’s plenty to come. A good meeting with Ewa Petersson from their marketing department.

The red warning light gets to me, so I stop at a garage, open the bonnet and stare incomprehensively into the space in front of me. I check the lawn mower engines oil and water, and look for the inevitably missing manual. All seems fine, but it is quite clear that this car is going to expire. It a long way back to the hotel, so top speed all the way. I stop at the airport to moan to Europcar about my pile of trash and the red ‘death’ light. “That car always does that mate! Don’t worry about it”. Quite bizarrely, the red light disappears soon after and never comes back on…

Tuesday

He shouted something Portuguese at me.  Clearly the policeman wanted me to step out of the car for a chat.

Then he shouted something at me again. What to say? I only know the Portuguese for “can I have a beer please” which, in my current predicament, wasn’t likely to go down very well. Mobile phone use in the car is a serious offence in Portugal as I was finding out. After an immense amount of paperwork by three police officers and a trip to the cash machine, I’m set free by Mr Grumpy Cop.

The delightful Agnieszka Lutz greets me at the Monte Rei resort. She thinks my 120 fine is good value – it can be up to 600. We drive round the emerging resort and look over the fantastic new Clubhouse which opens soon. Lunch is outside near the beach in the sunshine, which is a contrast to the weather a home. The Missus calls me to say the hurricane type winds have ripped the roof off our new garden shed. Hey ho – what can I do!

Just over the border into Spain is the Fadesa resort of Costa Esuri. I nip into the vast aircraft hanger sized showroom and then take a look over the resort to check on progress. The Spanish really know how to speed build, no doubt about it.

Wednesday

A night at home, before a morning flight to Murcia in Spain. Originally the land of Oranges, lemons, almonds, artichokes, broccoli, and now the land of cranes, new holiday homes and new golf courses. This is Spain’s latest version of the Wild West.

Our client puts us up at a brand new 5 star Intercontinental Hotel. It is a marked improvement on Monday’s hotel! The bathroom goodies are so good, they’re worth pinching to take home.

Thursday

Our driver for the day is Pepe, who treats his great big people wagon like a racing car. We survive 250 km of macho loony driving and squeeze in seeing 5 Polaris resorts. The price point is incredibly attractive at these resorts. 120,000 buys a 2 bedroom apartment within a golf and leisure community. I didn’t meet any owners who could moan about any aspect of the development.

Then on to La Manga, now owned by the Spanish company Med Group. This former British owned golf resort has been a favourite winter training destination for years with football clubs, tennis players and cricket teams. Now it is having a spruce up. There’s some interesting investment property for about 400,000 which will interest some of our buyers.

Half an hour inland, and we are at Hacienda del Alamo, heavily promoted in the press, and a great spot to end a busy day.

Friday

A beautiful cloudless day, but it’s suddenly turned bitterly freezing cold, and we shiver for an hour on a golf buggy seeing over the resort. The distant mountains provide a wonderful backdrop.

Then on to Lorca resort high in the hills near the town of Lorca. I gather Lorca town worth seeing, but as usual we are chasing the clock. The resort has just started construction, and has a couple of interesting oddities including a miniature bullring and an iron ore mine. Somehow, we have a buyer who specifically wants to buy in this very location so our Agency agreement is quickly concluded!

Cutting it fine, we head back to the airport – my New Years Resolution in tatters…