Max Raine

Max Raine has been a very well known Sydney real estate agent for many decades. In the excerpt below he describes the Sydney housing market in the years after World War II.

We had a massive lot of terraces [now very desirable housing] from the Cooper Estate, the Macarthur Estate, the various big estates, and you’d go to the door of one of them and he’d have the rent for the rest of the half dozen. Just how honest people were: going around with all this money in your pocket, no thought of a revolver in your pocket or anything. You’d written out the receipts for all these damn people you were calling on, before you even called on them: that’s how sure you were the rent’d be paid. In those days terrace houses were out. No one wanted to live in Paddington – they were all the sort of workers and the very low brand of workers in those areas – and to see the swing from that living, and the types of people living in it, to what is there today and you’re dealing with, many of them worth a million dollars and much more. And those were the days, after the war, that the councils were giving all sorts of orders of compliance to the owners. So I’m thinking of one particular estate that got any numbers of orders for sewerage, for water, for drainage, for roofing, and the owner said “Well, we’re not going to spend any of this money. Go and sell the terrace houses to the tenants” who’d been there donkey’s years and a lot of them, wharf labourers, awfully nice lot of people; I remember a lot of them very well. And your instructions from the owners were “Just get it off our books. If they will pay that price, great; but if they can’t pay it, say to them ‘Here’s £50. Now, you give it back to me and I’ll give you a receipt for the deposit’”. They couldn’t believe it and of course they were very different days, you wouldn’t believe it. I’m thinking of one that would be worth about a million and a half today. In those days it was a protected tenancy and they were paid to get out.

Margo Beasley