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Managing Expectations

Meme for the Adrian Leeds Group long-term rental search services

The toughest job we have, besides finding and securing a rental apartment in either Paris or Nice, is managing our clients’ expectations.

If you are a regular reader of my many missives, then you may already be familiar with my constant nagging to let go of all expectations—to trade that word for “hopes” and therefore never be disappointed. It’s a lesson in life I learned about 20 years ago and never looked back. What that does is remove all critical judgment from the situation enabling one to simply accept what is, without judging if it’s good or bad, and just dealing with the reality.

Meme of Stephen Hawking quote on expectations

Some might argue with this philosophy, but that happens mostly by people who have embraced their expectations in a way where their own egos are so attached, that they wouldn’t know who they were without them. These people stay forever disappointed by just about everything life sends their way as a result. It is why I try so hard to open everyone’s minds to letting go of those expectations so that they can free themselves from such negative energy and start to see more of the positive aspects.

This manifests itself in a few people who come to us because they need our help, but then expect the process to take shape differently than it actually does. Part of their issues come from their need to control almost everything, making it even doubly hard for them to leave their problem in our hands without trying to micromanage it. These people might be very successful in their own jobs and their own lives because of their ability to control and take charge, but it can work against them when they must delegate tasks to others.

While I have been traveling on vacation in Greece this week, one such situation crossed my laptop’s “desk.” We have a client who hired us to search for a rental apartment in Paris starting at the end of August. This is the most difficult time of year to find a rental apartment because, 1) it’s the most popular time of year to start a long-term stay, and 2) almost everyone is on vacation. We always suggest starting in June for the search or delaying the rental to October or November, if that’s even possible.

Splashpage for a website for furnished rentals in Paris

Meanwhile, we started the search, and less than two weeks into it, the client became anxious. He wrote his search consultant:


I remain unclear on how the process of finding an apartment typically evolves. We have identified numerous properties and have viewed two of these. Why am I not seeing more properties? If agencies are not responding, what adjustment needs to be made at this point? I have identified several of the properties we have listed in the spreadsheet as priorities. Is there the possibility of seeing these properties? What steps can we take to move this process along? My current housing arrangement is through August 31st. Needless to say, I would like to expedite this process! Please let me know how we can move this process along.

Best regards…”

Our Search Consultant responded in great detail about “the process”:

“Thanks for your email and expressing your concern. Let me explain in a little more detail.

As mentioned, even with a direct, mobile number of the agents, they often don’t respond because they are on a visit or on the phone. I leave both messages and texts, and then move on to the next call. The same thing often happens with the next call, etc. Eventually, in the middle of one of my calls, one of the previous agents calls me back but I’m unable to answer. That agent leaves me a message. When I am able to call back, the agent doesn’t answer again, for the same previous reasons. Often, the agent simply never calls me back and I have to put them on tomorrow’s call/email list…often with the same result.

Why would an agent never call me back?

Maybe they know that the apartment is likely going to be rented in the next several days based on a dossier that has already been submitted…or, maybe they’re already at the final stages of the lease signing, etc. In any case, French agents will not call you back to let you know that an apartment is no longer available. It’s easily one of the most frustrating things about my job.

This sort of “telephone tag” gets even more convoluted when I have to leave a message at an agency with a receptionist. Therefore, it’s very important that apartments on our list are very judiciously marked as a priority visit, because otherwise, calling/texting/emailing dozens of agents per day for multiple clients precludes me from actually focusing on priority apartments and getting you into one in the time allotted. (There were 15 “priority” apartments on this list.)

Also, it doesn’t mean an apartment is available just because we find it listed on a website somewhere. All agencies leave listings online until a lease is signed, everybody has collected their money, and the keys have been given to the new tenant…meaning an apartment could be listed for up to two weeks after a “winning” dossier has already been submitted. And again, if an agent knows this, they will never call me back. Conversely, sometimes an apartment has “just” been listed and the agent needs to coordinate with an owner to find out what the availability is before they call me back.

These are just a few of the possibilities why agents don’t respond. We’ve successfully installed our clients into hundreds of apartments so I feel confident in how the process works and how we are progressing. I would like to remind you that we have only finished the second week of the search. And, I know that you are concerned about having an apartment by the end of August. I believe the process is moving along exactly as expected and it’s even possible we can finish the search in the next one-to-two days with one happy phone call from the agent of the apartment you liked.

I will continue calling until we get an approval—plus, will ask the agent if any of the six other apartments on your roster are available to visit prior to receiving approval.

Hope that helps.

That email was sent before a new situation arose: our client, anxious to move the process along, before having received this explanation, contacted one of our preferred agencies to arrange a visit that he wanted, and to invite our search consultant along.

He responded with:

“It seems that you have also taken it upon yourself to start contacting agencies on your own: based on this email from you and my conversation with the agent. This creates lots of confusion and can be damaging to our relationships with agencies.”

Our Search Consultant was able to learn that of the five apartments our client wanted to visit, the results were this:

“#1 – is already rented
#2 – is on the 1st floor without an elevator. The agents doesn’t think the location would be good either.
#3 – is under renovation, the location is close to a train station and she doesn’t think it would be good for you.
#4 – is the one that we tried to visit on Thursday and the agent is still trying to see when the owner will accept a visit asap.
#5 – (the one you contacted the agency about directly) already has a dossier submitted that will likely be accepted. It is not available to visit.”

The point of illustrating the challenges we face on behalf of our rental clients is not to disparage them in any way. We fully understand what it’s like to feel so out of control and be anxious about a big move to France. It can be scary, for sure! Again, it’s all about expectations.

Change the word “expectations” for “hopes” and you will be happier, wiser and a whole lot less stressed out! We HAVE NEVER NOT found an apartment for a client…but it’s up to the client to relax, sit back and let us do our job!

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds in a colorful top in GreeceAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. To learn more about our service to find and secure a long-term rental apartment in Paris, Nice or anywhere in France, visit the Services section on our website.



  1. Andrew on July 24, 2023 at 11:21 pm

    The description by your search consultant is entirely accurate, in that agents simply do not respond in Paris. The various excuses, however, are insufficient. In other countries, including the US, England, Belgium, Spain and Portugal, agents behave in a professional manner and answer their phone, respond to voicemail messages and emails, even if the customer is not going to be successful in renting. I searched for a Paris rental apartment on my own for a month, and finally secured one, just as I was making initial contact with your group. It was a bizarre experience. I do not feel that expectations, or competition among applicants, is the problem. It is that agents respond only if they can get a commission. They lack common courtesy and a sense of responsibility. Moreover, this is not “cultural” nor true of other professionals in Paris. In fifty years of visiting France, we have never seen it before.

    • Adrian Leeds Group on October 4, 2023 at 5:15 am

      Thank you for sharing your comments.

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