A. This is a complaint often levelled at estate agents, and I accept that on the surface at least, it can be annoying. Of course, you expect this sort of thing when you’re dealing with an inanimate object like the internet, where the initial search criteria are necessarily fairly limited – with the result that you end up having to do a lot of weeding yourself. But surely, if you take the trouble to detail your precise requirements to a real live human being, the least they could do is actually listen to what you say!

However, things aren’t always quite as simple as that. The plain fact is that while most people may start out with a reasonably clear idea of what they want in a new home, this can very easily change once they actually start looking - for all sorts of reasons. People’s individual circumstances may change. They may realise that they need a different type of accommodation after all, or they may decide that another area might be more suitable.

More often, however, people simply decide to breach their own self-imposed search parameters, if they see something really special that they particularly like. Let’s face it, most of us have done that at some time or other.

Experienced estate agents know this. It’s not that they haven’t taken on board what they have been told. It’s simply a matter of recognising that people often change their minds. All of us can quote examples of buyers who – having originally insisted that they were only interested in, say, thatched cottages in one particular location – end up buying penthouse flats with a sea view somewhere entirely different. There are also plenty of instances where an agent has scrupulously observed a purchaser’s stated preferences – only to see the same individual buy something completely different through another agent!

By the same token, agents will also sometimes send out details of more expensive properties, perhaps because they are aware that the sellers concerned might be prepared to consider offers.

Nevertheless, if you really, really don’t want to be sent details of properties that are even a whisker outside your chosen criteria, then you need to make this absolutely crystal clear right at the outset.