As 5 overwhelmed first year students we were put in the “worst possible position” by our student house estate agent.
It was a cold day in late February when my (future) flatmates and I received an email advertising a five-bedroom house in North Leam, which we had identified as the ideal location. If you are, or once were, a student at the University of Warwick you would be familiar with the stressful rush that is reserving a student house for the following year. It starts as early as November meaning by February the options are sparse and time is running out. Without hesitation, we jumped on the occasion and went to visit the house the same afternoon. My friends and I walked around the rooms taking pictures and videos to show to our flatmate who had stayed behind on campus. We asked numerous questions and even enquired about the size of the boiler, Wi-Fi strength and neighbourhood, which the estate agent must have taken as a sign that we were keen on the house. After our tour we agreed we would discuss it all together and make a decision in the next few days. This is when the realtor proved to be a much better negotiator than us.
At this point, my flatmates and I had no other alternative or none that we were seriously considering. We had visited more depressing houses than we wished to recall. Additionally, the estate agent, after hearing us conversing around the house, knew exactly how we valued things, especially this house.
This is how the rest of the conversation went. The agent claimed he was staying at the house waiting for another group of students who was coming to look at it. He assured us that we could get the house if we were the first ones to pay the deposit and that the agency was nearby. We just had to make it there before the next group. It wasn’t long before my 3 flatmates and I were running as fast as we could to the agency, frantically calling our other friend to confirm they were ‘happy’ based on the 3 blurry photos and contacting our parents to transfer the funds from all over Europe. A short 10 minutes later, the estate agent came strolling into the agency and it was clear too short a time had passed for anyone to have come visit the house… We ended up living in that house for a year but having moved out now we have all realised how bad of a deal we signed for that day.
Don’t be a fresher, know your alternatives and be ready to walk away (not run towards the agency)!