“Can we fix it?…Yes we can!”

So decreed the ever chirpy Bob the Builder and his erstwhile sidekick, Muck The Dumper Truck.  Suspending one’s disbelief for a second-not at the thought of a vehicle that can talk, but at the frankly preposterous suggestion that builders are a equable bunch with a ‘can-do’ attitude…I wondered whether today, Bob would ever get out of the starting gate at a planning meeting for children’s television.  Possibly, but he would now be in a same-sex relationship, with a child (that undoubtedly has attention deficit disorder and is allergic to nuts/milk/fresh air/hard work) and is considering doing a Bruce, I mean Caitlyn Jenner with a subsequent appearance on the cover of Vanity Fair.  What brought to the mind the irritating catchphrase was the news this week that Barack ‘I walk on water’ Obama now has an approval rating that is the lowest for any US president in the last 70 years.  When the 44th president of the United States of America assumed office in January 2009, it was on a tidal wave of great speeches and sound bites, that all followed a similar theme, “Can we fix it? Of course we can!” Or not, as the following five years have proven.  This dawning of a new era leitmotif also featured heavily this week in various articles discussing the triffid-like growth of online estate agents.  At Cheshire and Co we have -for some considerable time-commented that traditional estate agency has to change, just as it had to in the mid-70’s and as all business models have been forced to adapt over the decades.  Currently high street or any street agents are  suffering low approval ratings as their online competitors offer the panacea to all property and conveyancing problems.  But do they?  Of course, the £695 all-in fee is a huge draw, compared to an office-based agent who charges a far higher fee.  If all goes well, there is nothing not to like, but when something does go slightly awry, that call centre in Chelmsford may not be quite so helpful as they were when winning the business.  Not least because there is no office to walk into to discuss whatever the problem is and more importantly, its successful resolution.  I know the buzzwords in the IT world are security and firewalls, but there is no greater protection from an irate customer than only existing in cyber space.  There are four major building developments starting within the next 6 months in the Cwmbran area.  I would wager the price of yesterday’s Oaks winner that none of the developers will select one of these online agencies to facilitate their sales.

The approval of others also came to the fore when in France this week it was not only deemed to be illegal to hire a prostitute but also to dress like one.  Well that’s Newcastle in trouble (other cities are available) and Varteg.  At Cheshire and Co we have had several property dealings with members of the adult entertainment industry.  They are invariably intelligent, hardworking and honourable; if they have said that they are going to buy it, they do.  Approval was never an issue; on either side. As always, the more apt catchphrase, is “Show us the money”.