Wollongong real estate agent Bob Onofri refuses to increase tenants’ rents 

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Why this old school real estate agent does not want to raise your rent – and his powerful words that every greedy landlord in Australia needs to read

  • Wollongong rents rose by 12.7 per cent in 2022
  • Realtor Bob Onofri, 90, bucking the trend
  • Refuses to raise rents amid national crisis 

Meet the real estate agent every tenant would love to have.

Bob Onofri, 90, is one of the best-known agents in Wollongong and has traded from the same shopfront for the last 55 years.

Little has changed inside his 1960s office over the last half of a century, including a telephone exchange from before he got a landline.

With no mobile phone, computer, internet, or social media, technology isn’t the only thing he shuns.

Mr Onofri is also bucking the trend by rarely increasing rent prices, which rose by an average 12.7 per cent across the Wollongong region in 2022, according to CoreLogic data.

He’s passionate about making concessions for tenants with children as cost of living pressures mount.

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‘I maintain that extra $20 for the owner is an investment, but that $20 for a family to look after their kids is more important,’ Mr Onofri told the ABC.

Wollongong real estate agent Bob Onofri refuses to increase tenants’ rents 

The only technology respected real estate agent Bob Onofri uses is his office landline

Born in Italy and a boilmaker by trade, Mr Onofri emigrated to Australia after World War II and worked on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme before moving to Melbourne.

He later moved to Port Kembla where he worked for the Electric Power Transmission before he became a real estate agent in 1961.

He has the respect of rival realtors, who believe Mr Onofri’s reluctance to raise rents are also a win-win for landlords in the long term as they’re not forking out letting fees every time a new tenant moves in.

‘He has relationships with his landlords and tenants and that’s what’s missing these days,’ agent Paul Spinelli said.

‘It’s good old-school personal service.’ 

Much loved realtor Bob Onofri (pictured) celebrated his 90th birthday last August

Much loved realtor Bob Onofri (pictured) celebrated his 90th birthday last August

Little has changed at Bob Onofri's shopfront (pictured) in the last 55 years

Little has changed at Bob Onofri’s shopfront (pictured) in the last 55 years

The median rent in Wollongong is $620, up from $550 in December 2021, according to Core Logic.

Mr Onofri described the current property market as ‘nuts’ and is sad reading about families sleeping in cars due to the national rental crisis.

‘That’s awful. I see things like that, and it hurts you. People are people; we’ve got to treat them as human beings,’ he told realestateview last year.

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Many of his clients come from Italian families who have been dealing with him over several generations.

‘My way of staying in this business up to now is just because I help people,’ he said.

‘People do come back, and they come back again. It’s based on good relationships – I’m a strong believer in that.’

Mr Onofri has no plans to retire anytime soon and hopes to extend his real estate agent’s licence for another three years.

Bob Onofri (pictured) is keen to help his tenants as cost of living pressures mount

Bob Onofri (pictured) is keen to help his tenants as cost of living pressures mount

The veteran realtor refuses to raise rents, despite prices soaring in the Wollongong region

The veteran realtor refuses to raise rents, despite prices soaring in the Wollongong region

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