Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When will real estate agents get real?

There was once a time when lawyers were despised as the scum of the earth for their deceitful, contemptuous ways. It seems they may have been dethroned from dubious position by an even greater evil - the real estate agent.

Sydney city Australia is a beautiful city. Green and picturesque, with a booming cafe culture. It's also one of the most expensive parts of the known universe to own land in. While a re-enactment of the US sub-prime crash seems unlikely down-under, with interest rates hovering around 8-9% and average property values of over half a million dollars, it's definitely not a buyer's market.

In fact, the fallout of the decline in first-time home buyers has led to hugely over-saturated rental market. And the real estate agents hate it.

Gone are the days when they would spend their time romancing prospective property buyers with the promise of a sizable commission glinting in their eye. Today the average real estate agent is all but run into the ground opening rental properties up for 15 minute inspections, and attending vacating inspections as previous tenants flee in terror from how much their rent gets hiked-up between contracts.

All of this for a measly 7%.

They radiate contempt, exhaustion, and disinterest. It's clear when they arrive 5 minutes late to open a 15 minute inspection how much they loathe the work that will be created by the 30, 40, or 50 eager applications they will have to process for a tiny cut of the rent.

Phone calls go un-answered, emails get ignored, but the rent keeps steadily climbing up while the agents sit on the one month's bond paid in advance as a right of passage. Even still, the number of prospective tenants continues to increase, while the amount of available rental properties plummets down to 1%.

Here's a shout-out to Sydney's embattled real-estate agents: if your business card says "property manager", then prove your worth by demonstrating the ability to manage in a saturated rental market. Find your way clear to returning people's calls, or even answering emails with just a simple acknowledgment.

Or just kindly fuck off. Let the tenants talk to the strata and have them copy a key for us. Allow us to call a certified phone technician to fix our noisy line. Don't leave a bin full of garden refuse in the backyard and then refuse our offer to have it taken away.

Scratch the "property manager" off your business card and let us manage affairs ourselves. Let us send you a bill, or deduct it from our next rent payment. Don't treat us like shit from the moment after we sign the lease and pay the bond with nothing less than a bank cheque, lest your title as the new scum of the earth be forever associated with the lowly real estate agent.

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