Where have all the REAL estate agents gone?

Packing up your life to move abroad is fraught with frustration. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it isn’t, or that it is easy.

It sounds exciting, and it is, but this will be the seventh move and, if anything, it gets harder to navigate and negotiate your way through the maze of people that want to “help” you realise your dream.


The complication is owning your own furnished home, the mortgage that goes with it and all those treasured possessions needing somewhere to be stored.

It is sheer hard work compressing your life into one suitcase and a carry-on.

Of course when you start out on a journey of a lifetime, these appear only minor hurdles to overcome. So it doesn’t help when the final factor affecting the move is in the control of those who tell you what you want to hear – until it is time to get “real”.

Six months ago UNREAL estate agents said: “Yes, we can do this, it will only cost you that and we’ll easily get this amount, your place will rent quickly.”


So you take a few months to meticulously plan your exit only to find when it’s time to hand it over to those UNREAL agents, their original response is now:  “That was then, things have turned down in Sydney, maybe you should reconsider a furnished rental, the market for that is small, people like to bring their own possessions into a home – and did we mention our commission included GST plus there’ll be a management charge of…?”

Despite those poor odds, they were still prepared to take it on.

That was a month ago. The furnished house is still unrented.

In a bid to help the agent I rewrote the blurb, and was thanked with a bill for advertising, on top of the fee for professional photos.

With money going out and none coming in, I decide to assist again by placing my home on free lists like Gumtree and Craigslist only to be bombarded with more agents calling to ask whether they could “help”. One specialised in reducing mortgages, another in depreciation schedules.

No. I just need a tenant.

I suppose I should be grateful for their offers, but if they were REAL they would have said they had someone on their list chomping at the bit for a furnished home in my area. Instead I was the prize, another name to be added to their rental rolls.

So with lots of help but few bites and no delivery of a REAL tenant, maybe I should have been more sympathetic to the guy who showed the most interest in renting my home. Trouble was, his life was in turmoil. He was going through a divorce or separation and while he thought the rent was reasonable, he could only scrape together $300 less than the asking price.

Given there is no turning back, the trip of a lifetime may get reduced to a few months of a lifetime, but I’m still optimistic of an eleventh-hour saviour – that person who walks through the door, loves my house, thinks the price is right and, better still, wants it for the next 12 months!

Fingers crossed.

Judy Wilkinson is a freelance journalist who from April hopes to be taking a year to travel the breadth and depth of Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America.

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