29 May 2015

Home Truths - six homes and a pair of wet feet

10:45 am on 29 May 2015

Too small, not enough grass - and huge sums for sellers, 'despite everything'.

sold sign

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

Saturday (pretty much every Saturday)

Wake up unnaturally early.

Make coffee.

Look at property listings and organise my entire life around open homes.

Text friend that I can't meet them at 1pm as I will be in three other places simultaneously.

Take phone call from unknown real estate agent who wants to view the house at an inconvenient time.

Wonder (again) what the hell I am doing.

12:04

It is raining. And this is property one. Not a great start to the day.

house in auckland

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

12:14

Getting a good vibe from this place. But I am 16 minutes early for viewing. Time for more coffee.

12:27

Three minutes to go, and there's a small queue of people, huddled in cars, waiting. The real estate agent turns up and we're all on. A little clutch of people shuttle up the drive way, umbrellas at full mast. I wonder about the psychology of checking out properties in bad weather. Does it make the house more bleak, or just the people?

This place is near a good primary school, and draws a 'young family' crowd. They bring children, and there's a lot of curiosity around, and finding hidden nooks and crannies.

The kids are having way more fun than their mums and dads, who are trying to find the more intimate hidden details of the property from the agent.

12:41

Not too shabby. But the bathroom is alarming! A scene out of Cell Block H is NOT on my agenda.

bathroom

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

12:46

Needs completely re-wiring. And quite a lot of Tender Loving Care. But it feels homey. And who doesn't want roses.

roses outside house

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

12:49

About to make a new land speed record to get to the other side of Papatoetoe in time for open home number 3.

12:58

Mini traffic jam, and a car park crisis. Of course, as this place is going under the hammer this afternoon.

driving shot

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

13:04

Four minutes late, lucky I am not planning on bidding, as the place is tiny, and completely crammed with people. The picture below is not part of the unit, it is the entire unit.

It's probably just my imagination, but it seems to me wet would-be home buyers in a small space smell much like fear that's come in from the cold.

The auctioneer is telling a long story about Mrs Simpson, who lived and died here. It's actually quite endearing, until he gets to the bit about the asbestos ceiling, and you wonder whether that's really such a big selling point.

Despite everything, I am picking it goes for 400k, plus something.

house

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

13:05

Starting at 310k. And taking some pretty big bidding leaps.

13:05

400k. And we're down to 5k bids.

13:06

410k. Slowing down. No says the auctioneer, we won't be taking $500 bids. A thousand it is.

13:07

416k...

13:08

420k, for the third and final time. Frantic whispers and a bit of snarling amongst the family group in the corner.

13:08

The snarling gets it up to 423k.

13:11

And there is a huddle with the owner, and wham! They're done, at 423k!

13:13

It is still raining. I am soaked, so keep fogging up both my glasses and the car windows. Off back to the other side of Papatoetoe; a bit slower this time. The next place is a home sell - which my bank manager has said is a no-go, and threatened to pull my pocket money over.

But hey, I am only looking.

13:35

I may not be able to see out of my foggy glasses, but I do know a wallpaper emergency when I see one.

wallpaper

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

13:46

I have soaked little feet. I can't feel my toes any more, and my water-proof jacket is a liar. The car's developing water features as I drip everywhere. But I have half an hour to spare, and am going home to dry off...

14:03

...which gives me a bit of time to feel pretty excited about the next two places.

One is in Omana Ave, in Papatoetoe. It's near the golf course, which is now strangely sponsored by a real estate agency. God knows, they've made enough money in the area.

The other is in Hill Park, and it's a nice neighbourhood. It is at the top of a hill, and has several parks. D'oh.

14:24

Omana Ave. Ten minutes early and there's a queue. It is indeed a desirable area.

14:35

Cute gnome in the window, and you'd need to be one to live here.

gnome

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

14:38

A slightly weird convergence of fate and weather sees the living room fill up with tall men. It's like being in a phone booth with a rugby team and their wives.

The real estate agent jokes about how you would never get a crowd like this at open homes out South a year ago, just in the city. That makes him happy, not so the rugby team.

Didn't take long to figure this unit is a no go. Another asbestos ceiling, another too-small place, with no grass for the little white horror. On the road again.

14:55

How do I know where the couple in the ute in front of me are going and what footwear they have on?

ute

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

14:56

No, don't characterise me as a pervy little stalker with a shoe fetish just yet.

Apparently the couple are looking for the same kind of house I am. Have had a pleasant non-competitive (so far) chat to them. They're first home buyers, and still delightfully enthused after six weeks hunting. We laugh about car pooling.

14:58

Last planned stop for the day.

house

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

15:10

Smells like fresh paint, which is good. But I guess only one niece at a time will be staying, as the second bedroom is just a sliver of someone's imagination.

On the upside, it has a view of the treetops, and is just a few minutes from the Botanic Gardens.

Could be a bit of a goer.

treetops

Photo: RNZ/Eileen Cameron

15:26

So I've seen six places today. Three possibly viable options. One is a 'reno', one is a home sell, and the final is further south than I'd planned.

My mind races around options, but realistically I just have to set these thoughts on simmer until after my auction next Tuesday.

And, at the end of the day, I really have one question on my mind: does it feel like home?

  • 'Think small ... and pray'