Imagined Conversation During the Sale of a House in Hackney

I live in Hackney. I rent a room as part of a house share and have been there for the best part of two years. Turns out the place is being sold, another part of the ‘Hackney housing bubble’. Here’s an imagined scene between a couple of buyers and an estate agent. I wrote it very quickly and in frustration so excuse its roughness…

IMAGINED CONVERSATION DURING THE SALE OF A HOUSE IN HACKNEY.

THE SPARSE BASEMENT ROOM OF A PROPERTY IN EAST LONDON. IT HAS SEEN BETTER DAYS- THE PAINT IS CHIPPED AND THE WALLPAPER DROOPS NEAR THE CEILING. THE LIGHTS DON’T WORK PROPERLY. PERHAPS THERE IS DAMP.

ANNE, AN ESTATE AGENT, GUIDES MARK AND SARAH, A YOUNG COUPLE, INTO THE ROOM.

ANNE: Wouldn’t call it a bubble, no, far too many

MARK: A bubble yeah

ANNE: Too many connotations

MARK: That’s what we heard

ANNE: We don’t like to think like that

SARAH: So do we wait for it to pop or

ANNE: Really great features (FLICKS A LIGHT SWITCH. IT DOES NOTHING.)

SARAH: The bubble? I mean, will prices go down?

ANNE: Hard to say, it just keeps going up and up and 

MARK: Yeah, we heard but

ANNE: Are you in a chain?  

(BEAT) 

MARK: No, her mum

SARAH: My mum, yes, she died you see

ANNE: So sorry

SARAH: Yes she died and she didn’t want to give any to my dad because well

ANNE: So sorry

MARK: Her dad was a bit of a shit, you know? Total bastard

SARAH: Mark.

MARK: What? He was.

SARAH: Was there any need?

MARK: What?

(PAUSE) 

ANNE: Still, every cloud…

(BEAT) 

But you’re not dependent on a sale so

SARAH: The inheritance, it was quite

MARK: Get our foot on the ladder

SARAH: Exactly. I think she’d be happy that we’re spending it on

ANNE: Exactly. Exactly. This area’s had a lot of work

MARK: She’d never live here though

ANNE: Lots of regeneration, really transformed

SARAH: Mark

MARK: She wouldn’t

SARAH: At least it’s not south

MARK: True

ANNE: Yes, although it’s up and coming

SARAH: Not south, she hated south

ANNE: Londoner, was she?

SARAH: What?

ANNE: Your mum. She was from London?

MARK: Croydon.

SARAH: Not from there, just lived there

ANNE: You said she hated

SARAH: She did. Her last few years were

MARK: Hated everything

SARAH: She was miserable. I think a lot of it was regret.

ANNE: Still.

(BEAT) 

SARAH: She grew up in Islington, sold the house in the 70s

ANNE: Oh dear

SARAH: I mean, they weren’t to know

MARK: This area, you said there’d been, what’s it

ANNE: Regeneration. Oh yes. Barely any of the problems

SARAH: That’s good. People say bad things about gentrification

ANNE: Yes, yes. But very few of the problem tenants are left round here. Still a great sense of community though. We’ve got more independent coffee shops in a three mile stretch than some parts of Brooklyn

You’re bringing a better standard of living

MARK: We’re part of a wave

SARAH: I like being part of a wave

MARK: We’re good for the community, plus the links to the city are great so we’re not stuck here

ANNE: That’s true. Very true. The market wouldn’t be so buoyant if people didn’t want to live here

SARAH: And the area, you’d call it safe?

ANNE: Oh very

SARAH: Just it has a reputation

MARK: But the budget

SARAH: Mum left some money but

ANNE: Oh understandable. Definitely

SARAH: So

ANNE: Yes. Nothing to fear. They all used to hang out round the fried food shops

MARK: They?

SARAH: Mark

ANNE: They. Yes. 

(BEAT) 

MARK: Who are they?

ANNE: Let’s say, even in the past when there was a… reputation, you’d only get into trouble with the gangs if you were in a gang. You don’t look much like a gang to me

FAINT LAUGHS ALL ROUND.

SARAH: A gang of two

ANNE: Exactly.

(PAUSE) 

In all seriousness, there are seven pop-ups that have opened up in the past two months along the high street there. Doesn’t that scream safe?

SARAH: I suppose

ANNE: I’ve got a daughter, she’s fourteen. She says this area’s really ‘cool’ and goodness, I’m so out of touch I’m likely to believe her

FAINT LAUGHS AGAIN

SARAH: I do like coffee

MARK: Love it, don’t we?

ANNE: You’ve got your pick

MARK: Great.

SARAH: And the rest of the street? Lots of big houses

ANNE: Fabulous, aren’t they? Architecturally, this area’s something else

MARK: Suppose so

SARAH: Victorian?

ANNE: Many, yes

SARAH: Wish we could afford it, one of the bigger ones

ANNE: I hear that every day

(PAUSE) 

They’re nearly all flats now. We let out a good deal of them

MARK: Great, that’s great

And the people?

ANNE: Oh lovely. All the ones we let. Lovely.

SARAH: Great

MARK: That’s great.

ANNE: No DSS, all English speaking

MARK: Right

SARAH: Are you allowed to do that?

ANNE: There’s no shortage of buyers who aren’t on benefits, so we’re not exactly turning people down and leaving the places empty.

MARK: So everyone’s english?

ANNE: English speaking, yes. How would they know what they are signing if

SARAH: So it’s not like an all white neighbourhood

ANNE: Oh, not really

(BEAT) 

Though there’s been a shift

SARAH: I’d like to be part of a mixed community

MARK: It’s important to us

SARAH: Very. I don’t mind gentrifying an area but I don’t want to 

MARK: Ethnically cleanse it

SARAH: No

THEY FAINT LAUGH

ANNE: Yes, very vibrant here. A real community hub. The home-buying has just rejuvenated the good parts and … smoothed out the bad.

(PAUSE) 

It’s a fab property, real possibilities. Have a look, though there are other potential buyers

MARK: Yeah, absolutely. Just had a few

ANNE: This place is popular, you wouldn’t even

MARK: A few questions

SARAH: Mark

MARK: What? Just wondering about the walls, there. Some of the lights

ANNE: Not working, yes. Not working

MARK: Yeah, they’re not working

ANNE: Needs a bit of TLC, that’s true

SARAH: It’s just with the asking price

ANNE: Absolutely, with the market

MARK: How much TLC?

ANNE: The market’s buoyant

SARAH: Because you’ve asked a lot and

ANNE: Plenty of developers wanting in

SARAH: I understand, but if it’s going to be another fifty grand

ANNE: (LAUGHS) More than that

MARK: More than fifty grand?

ANNE: I’m not going to lie. It needs some love, real love and that costs. But there’s plenty of developers

SARAH: Plenty of developers

ANNE: Yes, they’ll turn it into flats. One, two, three

MARK: If you’ve got the money

ANNE: It’s up-and-coming. It’s definitely up and

SARAH: It’s just that puts it out of budget

MARK: This was the best vale for its size on your

ANNE: On the website, I know

MARK: On your website

SARAH: I mean, it all sounds amazing

MARK: Your mum would even like it, I mean if we did it up

ANNE: You can make an offer but

SARAH: Just inside our budget, maybe we could

ANNE: It’s very competitive

SARAH: We could squeeze something more out of the savings, do the repairs

MARK: It would be a great thing to be a part of.

SARAH: This new

MARK: New rejuvenation

SARAH: And we’d be different, not just

MARK: No

SARAH: Not just coming in. Respectful of the community

ANNE: Exactly. 

(PAUSE) 

SARAH: So I suppose we’ll let you know what we think?

ANNE: You’ll need to by Monday

THE DOORBELL RINGS

Ah, that will be the next couple

MARK: Got lots of viewings

ANNE: Yes, that’s them

MARK: Lots today?

ANNE: About thirty. It’s very desirable

SARAH: Oh. Even at the asking price? I know it’s London but

ANNE: Even that. Like I say, I’ll need your offer by Monday. These things move fast. The market’s buoyant.

SARAH: Right

ANNE: And trust me. It will go for over that price. 

Offers on Monday.

Sealed bids on Tuesday.

Sold on Wednesday.

MARK: Right. It’s just a lot of money to commit in such a short

SARAH: We’ll think about it

ANNE: It’ll go. Like that (SNAPS FINGERS)

(PAUSE) 

Right, any more questions, you can give the office a call.

SARAH: Right. That was quick.

ANNE: Yes. Thirty people to get through so

MARK: Right

SARAH: Ok.

BOTH: We’ll let you know.

ANNE: Good. Do you mind letting the next person in on your way out?

Thanks.

END.

I’m going away for a residency

Hello,

I’m about to go away for a residency with my theatre company, so updating this site will be a little difficult for the next couple of weeks- at most, it’ll be one update per week, maybe less, depending on time and access to scanners etc. Thanks for bearing with me and I’ll have a new cartoon soon.

Chris