The Big Squeeze. Part one.

Did you ever just feel like you were cooking in your own juices? Speared up the centre and rotating over medium heat, slowly but surely intensifying. Eventually, you find yourself surrounded by gawkers carrying carvery knives; their eyes lit up by flames coming from your roasting flesh.

The intense fire is life as we know it, and the gawkers are every bastard coming at you with a bill, fee, or cost of any sort just constantly trying to carve money from your body as if it were a fucking limb.

Trading conditions brought on as a hangover of the pandemic and simple commercial greed, by and large, have worked to decrease how far dollars go and I’m pretty fucking mad about it. Here’s why at length:

Real Estate

For a single moment, imagine a world where you didn’t need to work a day. Not one. The only catch – because there’s always a catch – is you simply need to turn up somewhere in your local government area during 5 days of the week, one of which must include a Saturday.

The properties you’re visiting? Not yours; you’re merely the gatekeeper of that which crawls from the mound. At each location you just need to let them in. Without a doubt, people will emerge and infest your property like fleas on a mangy dog – crawling all over it, inside and out.

The listings you curate are described with flourishes like ‘elegant’ and ‘cosy’ when really, you could have gotten away with the simple plain English truths of ‘dated’ and ‘fucking tiny’. But you need not worry about ethics – you just need to turn up and unlock it.

Ladies and gentleman if your dream career sounds like something where you put in the absolute barest of bare minimums, you too can become a slimy enough scum bucket to drive a hilt-leveraged Lexus to rotted out ant mounds by joining real estate today!

Let’s talk buying: Shit-box knockdown on a main road? Sold for tens-of-thousands more than the list price. Regular family homes? Don’t even bother, hundreds are turning out to view them in the hottest suburbs, and some have probably already put in offers sight unseen. Units and townhouses? Not a lick of paint in nigh on twenty years and a bathroom that’s even older, but you bet your ass I’m getting top dollar for my clapped out ex-rental – and I’ll get it too. Don’t even get me started on underquoted listings.

Let’s talk about building homes: Pandemic supply chain issues and localised labour and material shortages have caught your builder slipping. There’s nothing they can do – it’s going to take ‘as long as it takes’ and you are definitely paying a higher cost for all of it.

Let’s talk rentals: Horrible 1980s two-bed unit on a main road? Double digit flea turn out and so many applications in the queue they’ve already closed them. You also won’t be told this happened before you submit yours. Boomer’s fourth investment property? Having had zero work since the initial fit out, a spacious yard of 1m square, and renting for a ludicrous amount – double digit flea turn out. Your rental application? Give me a blood sample and tell me how much more than the list price you’re willing to spend you fucking peasant renter – give me everything you’ve got. Don’t even get me started on rent bidding, which should abso-fucking-lutely be illegal.

Rentals are a disaster because of the double-edged star picket of lockdown driven interstate migration (to Queensland) and the fact international borders were closed for almost two years. All of the ‘regular’ movements have been totally derailed and there is simply not enough supply in the market from Cairns to the Gold Coast. Home buying is a disaster for the same reason.

In a true tale recently relayed to me, an agent from an undisclosed agency turned up to a rental listing during a work day and forgot the key to the property, inconveniencing a dozen people who had registered to inspect it – “Just take a look around outside”. Normally if you failed at your one major priority or task you would be rightfully fucking fired, but that is the absurdity of real estate in Australia right now. The joint has probably already been rented.

Really you only need to tap into the news cycle to see the most heinous and careless rental evictions driven by the pursuit of the almighty dollar by people who have already reached a financial echelon much greater than most.

At the time of writing I am also looking to get out of the rental game, but my idea of ‘looking’ has been reduced to a fortnightly scroll through appalling, low quality, and overpriced listings until I get pissed off enough to close the tab (hint: less than five minutes).

Just wait until international students start coming back.

Almost everybody is getting fucked: first home buyers because everything is even further out of reach now, new home builds on account of the shortages and blowouts, and renters who are dealing with absolutely atrocious conditions and appalling properties – now often paying significantly over market value just to secure a roof overhead.

But ‘almost everybody’ is not everybody.

Real estate is clearly good, ethical, solid, and honest work if you can get it, and all you have to do is turn up somewhere with the keys. I am obviously generalising a fair bit, but it’s worth remembering what agents are like when the shoe is on the other motherfucking foot – when they are begging you for business. Right now they’re as happy as pigs in shit.

At the end of your ‘working week’ as an agent, imagine having the audacity to turn around and boast to a journalist at your favourite News Corporation (sorry) newspaper about record price increases of almost 24% since the previous calendar year when thousands of your fleas are simply looking for somewhere to live. You’ll forgive me for holding off on the limp party poppers. That said, where else would you boast about that given News Corp (sorry) also owns the biggest property listing website in the country, but I digress;

Normally I’d say the solution to this kind of ridiculous market driven dogshit is to just stop turning up and disengage completely. Unfortunately, the necessity of having a roof overhead is significant enough to shut the roller door on that desire.

See you next Monday for Part Two, where I take a look at food delivery, ride shares and streaming in 2022.

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