The Columnist

ESTATE AGENCY

A Brief History 

BC 5,000   Stonehenge is built.
    Stonehenge still unsold.
BC 4,800    Sign appears outside Stonehenge, saying: ”Show House for new estate, open for viewing now”. Estate agency is born!
BC 4,700    Stonehenge still unsold. Sign appears outside Stonehenge saying: “Many units already sold on Stonehenge estate, prior to construction. Few left. View Show House now. Open Sunday”
BC 4,500    Stonehenge still unsold. Sign appears outside Stonehenge saying: “All right, we may have exaggerated when we said that only a few units were left. In fact, no units have been sold, and the Show House will be the only one ever to be built. This beautiful edifice, standing in its own grounds, only a week’s travel from London and a couple of days from Salisbury, is now returned to the market at a reduced price”.
         This causes great sensation among early British estate agents, as it is the first ever almost entirely honest house ad. Some say it will kill the art of estate agency stone dead, others say it brings a refreshing morality to the business and is therefore a good gimmick.
BC 2,500.   Stonehenge still unsold.
BC 1,000.   Sign appears outside Stonehenge saying: “Special Millennium Offer! 10% off asking price!”
BC 50.        Invasion of British Isles by Roman armies. While the rest of the British do battle with them, a sign appears outside Stonehenge in Latin, saying: “Welcome to our Roman friends! This marvellous property has just come on the market and after due refurbishment and restoration would make ideal country retreat for victorious Roman general.”
AD 0.         Stonehenge still unsold, though the trade in Roman villas begins to pick up.
AD 100.     Rumours begin to trickle through of the invention of Christianity. Sign appears outside Stonehenge: “Welcome to our Christian friends! This wonderful property, which has just come on the market, would be ideal for conversion into a ‘church’!”.
AD 200.     Stonehenge not yet sold.
AD 500.     Retreat of Romans from Britain finally complete. Signs appear round the British coastline, saying: “Due to prior commitments, the Roman Empire is now ceasing trading in these isles. The Roman Empire thanks all clients for their past custom and hopes to do business with them again. These island premises now have vacant possession and would suit expanding empire e.g. Viking, Anglo-Saxon etc.”
AD 600-1,000.     The Dark Age of Estate Agency, so-called because exchange of houses was now generally effected by the new owner slaying the old owner and taking his house, thus wickedly cutting out the estate agent altogether.
AD 1066.    Norman Invasion and revival of estate agency. Sign appears outside Stonehenge. “Bonjour ! Et bienvenu à nos amis de Normandie ! Cet immeuble merveilleux vient de paraitre sur le market, et serait ideal pour un country retreat. Très convenient pour day trip en France !”
AD 1492.    Christopher Columbus arrives in New World, and finds a large notice awaiting him: “Welcome! This extensive territory is ripe for development - and no planning permission needed. Some sitting tenants, but they could be easily dealt with.”
         (The art of real estate was slow to start in America, and the sale of Manhattan to the Dutch for some glass beads and a few dollars is still seen as the lowest point of the history of estate agency. )
AD 1601. Queen Elizabeth I dies, James VI of Scotland takes throne. Sign appears outside Stonehenge:” Hi there, Jimmy! This great property, newly placed on the market, would make a wonderful second home for newly arrived Scottish courtier.”
AD 1602. Stonehenge not yet sold.
AD 1666. Great Fire of London. Many Lloyd’s names in difficulty. Great demand for property, owing to so many houses being burnt. Sign appears outside Stonehenge: “No more fire worries with this all-stone dwelling, newly on the market !  Guaranteed green belt conditions, far from any other inflammable house.”
AD 1667. Stonehenge unsold.
AD 1939-45. Tragedy occurs on Salisbury Plain. During the entire World War II, Stonehenge suffers no damage at all.
AD  1945-98. Advertisements appear in many American newspapers. “Would you like to be the owner of a significant part of British history? Would you like to bring to your own home in America the genuine stones of the most famous landmark in Britain? Would you like to be the owner of Stonehenge? Then just get in touch with us!”
AD 1998. Stonehenge still unsold.

                                                                         


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