OLIVER MILES explains what being an estate agent really means.

Some believe our job is an easy one. They think that property just sells itself, that a buyer appears from nowhere, loves a house or flat and agrees to buy it - just like that. Some think the sale then speeds effortlessly to a satisfactory conclusion and without any other assistance. Let me tell you it doesn't work like that - well not for most of the time anyway.

A 'proper' estate agent's job is not to sell houses, it is to move people. Moving anything is often complicated, can be fraught with difficulty and have unforeseen consequences. Just think about moving twin six-year-olds singlehandedly from home to school every morning, or moving a central heating boiler, or moving 250,000 tons of crude oil half way round the world, or herding sheep from one hillside to another. It all takes planning, patience, knowhow, experience and resolve. It means expecting the unexpected, problem solving and, when other people are involved, the highest level of tact and diplomacy.

I don't know about you, but if I wanted to move a herd of sheep I would hire a shepherd. And, in a way, that's what estate agents are. We arrange for something with lots of moving parts, each with a mind of their own, to end up where it should be on the date it is supposed to be there. Estate agents shepherd people, contracts, surveys, mortgages, removals, withdrawals, gazundering, false starts, disappointments, the unforeseen and triumphs from one place to another. You may not think it's worth paying for a shepherd at the beginning. But believe me, at the end, when it has been sheeting down with rain all day, the quad bike has broken down, a fox snatched a lamb and a large group of unreasonable ewes made a long break for freedom you will think a shepherd is worth every penny.

Why are we estate agents? We do it because we enjoy being shepherds. Some may think that selling houses is not a worthy profession, but moving people and families on to the next stage of their lives and making it as seamless and stress-free as possible is a job we enjoy is well worth doing and worth doing well!