Application: successful

3 Jun

So, it turns out they’re not all the same. Estate agents I mean. I’ve come across some real weasels in my time and I know to translate their descriptions of ‘cosy apartment with leafy outlook’ as ‘cramped space with a view of the overgrown hedge.’

It took me a few goes getting it very wrong before I wised up. For instance a few years a go in London, I optimistically headed to view a flat that was not only ‘cosy’ but also ‘convenient for transport links’ and had ‘park views from the balcony’. I turned up to a high rise overlooking the Vauxhall train tracks at one side and from the fridge-sized balcony (I use fridge as a comparison as it was the object which filled the space as it didn’t seem to fit in the kitchen) I saw a small patch of grass, mostly weeds and littered with syringes, which constituted the ‘park’. Never mind the fact the bedroom walls were painted a dark purple, had bars on the windows, and the access to the entrance was via a stinking stairwell. I decided it was not for me and perhaps I should raise the budget.

Move to Australia and we’ve found the flagrant disregard for accuracy has actually been relatively small. It is more a case of reading between the lines and looking for what they omit rather than what they promote. An apartment may well have lovely views from the balcony but if the drain is backed up in the bathroom, there is mould in one corner and the ‘double’ room fits the bed and nothing else, well, you have to weigh up how important those views are (probably very in that place because let’s face it you’re going to want to spend most of your time outside.)

The last few weeks have been our first experiencing the rental market in Sydney. As a Naval household we were living in a defence apartment but then we got told the lease was expiring and we had to leave. Forward through several weeks of waiting to see if we could get approval to go and rent our own place and finally, we got the go ahead. My days were spent trawling the real estate and domain web pages for listings, hoping to find something in the same area where we have settled and made friends. Prices are astronomical. I thought London was expensive with two-bed flats renting at over $1500 a month but then the same in Sydney can set you back the same price each week.

Rental map

Then there is the application process. The market can be tough, especially as rentals don’t seem to hang around for too long and if there are lots of people wanting to rent the same place, don’t be surprised to find a bidding war on your hands. We were lucky not to get to quite that stage although I think this might be a fairly quiet time to be looking. If it’s a newly renovated property with half decent space, light and airy and in a good location, people arrive, application forms ready to go, to submit to the agent at the viewing. Viewings are mostly done at open house inspections at one set time, for about 15 or 20 minutes and unless you’re on the ball and see a property online and manage to get the agent to show it before the inspection, you can be up against lots of other potential tenants vying for the same property. Then it is down to the agent and landlord as to who they like best and who gets the lease.

Two weeks a go we fell in love with a place. It was large, ridiculously so, with 1930s proportions you don’t get in the more modern units and what they call ‘ocean glimpses’! We were rejected. It’s that word, which stings. You can’t help but take it personally. It turned out the other applicant knew the landlord so we never had a chance but still, we lost out and it was back to the drawing board. Then I came across another place, smaller but from the photographs, filled with light. It was newly listed and the inspection was not even scheduled. I contacted the agent and managed to view it the following day. Perhaps it was being the first in or perhaps it was striking up that rapport with the agent but a few days later we decided to apply and even though another application was submitted, we were the chosen two! Relief – and what is more, an agent who fought our corner and didn’t play games and even pointed out something that needed fixing, rather than glossing over the fact (as often happens) that a cupboard hangs off its hinges or the ceiling is about to fall down.

We have survived our first rental process in Sydney (almost). We still have to sign the actual lease but it’s ours and it was not too painful. For the future, we know it’s all about getting ahead of the game; trying to view places before the inspections, having application forms and ID ready to go and perhaps sometimes, having your husband turn up in uniform to an inspection doesn’t go amiss, well, you know, just a thought…

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2 Responses to “Application: successful”

  1. vonschlapper June 4, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Great news – can’t wait to visit! W

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