A former estate agent has made lurid claims about the “sordid, sexist and seedy” world of selling houses.
A story in The Sun alleges that drug taking, casual sex and shoddy treatment of women are the norm in the industry.
The story says that in a “shocking expose”, Caroline Rose has detailed her “appalling treatment in branches of several well-known high street firms”.
Rose, 28, who left the industry three months ago, said: “Estate agency is like something out of a 1980s time warp. It’s incredibly sexist and belittling towards women.
“It still goes by the attitude that sex sells.”
She said that the salary is often below minimum wage, with “brutal hours” and staff expected to work on Saturdays without complaint.
She said: “Women are made to wear make-up and high heels. Low-cut tops are encouraged to persuade men to sign on the dotted line. It’s also incredibly pressurised, with unrealistic targets that have to be met.”
Rose also complained that cocaine use is rife in estate agency, claiming that those in the ‘in-crowd’ who used it were promoted and those who abstained were not.
She also said that the levels of sexism she encountered were “staggering”.
One south-west London firm told her it was mandatory for women to wear high heels, with skirts preferred. On one occasion she wore no make-up to work and was told in front of the office to put some on.
One woman was told to wear low-cut dresses to reel in the punters.
She said that adultery and sex were everywhere, with male managers indulging in affairs with female negotiators: “Sadly it is the norm in estate agency.”
She claimed that she saw “countless” unfair dismissals of women of child-bearing age.
Rose also told of “underhand tricks” including fake viewings, imaginary offers and mandatory cold calling.
She told The Sun: “My days consisted of cold-calling applicants for hours each day. An applicant list was presented and we aimed to call 50 a day. To reach our targets, we had to book 35 viewings a week and receive one offer.
“Fake viewings were seen as a necessity to maintain client confidence, and clients were targeted for price reductions every week based on false feedback from made-up ‘buyers’. On one occasion, an imaginary low offer was put to the client to demonstrate there was activity on the property.”
Surprisingly, the low offer was accepted – and the agency said the buyer had had a terrible accident and the offer had been withdrawn.
Rose continued: “On another occasion, a client came in to say his mother had died. My boss looked sombre, speaking to him in hushed tones. As soon as the client left, the manager started shrieking euphorically across the office, ‘She’s finally died! We can flog her house! It’s worth £5m’.
“The entire office gave victorious yelps. I understand that much of the income from an estate agency is based on others’ misfortune but the whole industry is utterly lacking in morals. The whole thing is disgusting.”
Rose, whose experiences appear to relate to the London market only, is calling for a change in estate agency.
Some readers commenting on the Sun story have said she has a book to promote.
The full story is here: