Real estate agents: The struggle is realty

Not all shiny things are gold, especially when it comes to the draining world of the real estate agent – as Nic Atkinson explains.


If you live in Sydney, there’s only one thing that really matters. It’s not sport, beaches or even our beloved harbour. It has more girt…it’s real estate.

Gently mention that simple word amongst any quaint and respectable gathering, and in frenzied unison it will instantly spew out an exploding statement of boast and pride: “You won’t believe what my house is worth now!”

But as the market has amped up in the past few years, with humble abodes only bought one or two decades ago now making millionaires quicker than an open brown paper bag at a union secretary’s luncheon, consider the other side of the coin (no pun intended).

Think, perhaps, about the folk that work in the real estate industry. Sure, it’s assumed most of them make a good living from the commission involved in the listing and selling or these properties. And most are enjoying these recent years of busy market activity, as they wander Bronwyn Bishop-style through the helicopters of life without a care in the world.

Then suddenly: bang! The vendor from Hell arrives.

Now, as an ex-real estate agent, let me paint the picture for you. For starters, forget about all those TV shows that present agents with welded-on smiles and immaculate George Clooney-esque presentation. Agents are real people with money issues, just like you; families to fret over, just like you; and the need to get a job done or they won’t get paid – probably unlike you, if you have a regular, I’ll-get-paid-no-matter-what, kinda job.

As I speak, or as you read, agents are on the phone cold calling streets trying to find that needle-in-a-haystack person, who has (a) just decided to sell, (b) would like to know what their place is worth, (c) would happily chat to a stranger and invite said stranger into their house for an appraisal,  and/or (d) for whatever reason, is at home during the day answering phones, instead of at work or at least enjoying that beautiful harbour.

If not on the phone, agents are driving the streets, working up the bravado to door knock the neighbourhood – how frustrating it must be, when owners won’t come to the door because they’re on the phone to some other agent.

Then, when they do finally come to the door with the death stare of a vulture sussing out lunch, through gritted teeth they press you with the words, “you’re the 23rd agent that’s knocked on my door,” and then screaming as they slam the door, “today!”

Suddenly, just to prove miracles didn’t stop at the new testament, door #3,247 opens, and they want to chat real estate. Into which the agent enters, oozing more love than a contestant on The Bachelor.

If all goes to plan, and the prospective vendor issues a rose, the giggly agent buzzes off and starts extracting the pollen from first the marketing people, then open-for-inspection groups, then hot buyers, and finally the filing cabinet where the sold paperwork disappears. Then it’s time to celebrate with a quick helicopter flight to…


Your new vendor is on loan from Hell and has picked up some nasty habits from the visit, declaring, “I want to vet the photos. Don’t let the advertising copy refer to my house as a cottage – it’s an estate, can’t you tell?! That’s not a linen cupboard, it’s a fifth bedroom!”

Then, when the Heaven-sent buyer offers an impressive price, the joys of discovering our vendor wants tens of thousands more. Why? Because the market is hot; haven’t you heard?!

Although, inside, you may be more gnarly than Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine, you smoothly imitate Hugh’s Broadway dancing and shuffle each issue out of the way until the beast (not Hugh, the vendor) is quietly pacified with oodles of money.

At which, exhausted, with one bleary eye on your blood pressure pills, the other on your now paid mortgage, you clean up and make it to the Saturday night get-together with the gang. A place where you can relax. Chill. Take it easy. And forget about everything. Until, someone wanders up to your group and mentions the words “real estate.”



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