Agent X?

Or Agent Not-at-all, if technology continues its onward march to replace 100% real human beings with 100% manufactured but frighteningly efficient robots. Zenplace Property Management, an American firm said to be backed by many of the same investors that supported the likes of Google, Facebook and Paypal  (to say that they have a decent record would be something of an understatement), claim to already be operating hundreds of tablet-carrying robots across several parts of California, birthplace of Silicon Valley and its multi-billionaires whose technology has revolutionised the world. The cynical (if not accurate in their critique) among us would argue that Cwmbran and the NP4 postcode has-for the first and probably last time in history-beaten California to a world-first; agents in the postcode have been carrying out robotic viewings for years. Boom, boom, watch that tumbleweed go..

The robots are actually movable video monitors (but ‘robot’ sounds so much sexier and cutting edge). The technology works by allowing prospective tenants/purchasers who see a vacant property that they like the look of to text Zenplace. They are then prompted to send a photo or means of ID through their smartphone to initiate a back ground check Er, AML regulations anyone? If passing the searching questioning of K.I.T (I don’t care how much you may want to play the cool card now, you have to admit it, we all loved Knight Rider and The Hoff), the prospective tenant is sent a unique code that allows them to enter the property via a “smartlock”. Having entered the property, the robot agent is activated.  A real, live letting agent welcomes them in, verifying that they are the person on the submitted ID and then takes them on a tour of the property, fully interacting with them to establish if the property is for them or if they are the sort of tenant that the agency wishes to have on their books.

Speaking of which, those betting on this year’s winner of the Booker Prize will be able to get any price on the oeuvre launched last week called, “For Sale: Sex, Drugs and Property”. Purportedly written by Agent X who works for a large organisation in the world of estate agency, it reveals in salacious detail the shenanigans of  corporate estate agents. Yawn, been there, got the t-shirt, seen various middle managers doing the walk of the shame down the corridor of the Travelodge /Premier Inn/budget hotel the morning after the night before at some training conference. The author chooses not to mention his name as, “I don’t want to be sued and they still employ me”. If correctly identified, the fledgling Dickens may need to use the past tense as regards his employment status. Elsewhere he (although it could be a she), admits that, “if you read the industry press, it may be blindingly obvious which company I work for”. I refer you to my earlier comment. The online Estate Agent Today reports how it was sent an email (with a link to the book’s site on Amazon), from someone who is convinced that the people in the book are his work colleagues. From the little that I read, they could have been the work colleagues of any one of us who has worked in corporate estate agency. The author alleges that coke is a major problem in the industry. I wholly agree; it is terrible for your teeth and last week I was mightily aggrieved when I rushed to collect some and came back with the crappy cherry flavour…