Open Homes

Every morning I scroll through and for any new listings.

I add them to a spread sheet.

On Thursday and Saturday, we look at the spread sheet and write out a timetable.

Bexley Road at 5pm. Then the Rockdale place at 5:30pm. Do you think we can fit in the Rose Street one at 5:45pm? No, we can save that one for Saturday.

We get in the car, look at each other, take a deeeeeep breath and set off.

We traipse from suburb to suburb (literally in circles), between the “perfect first house” and the “spacious villa” and the “renovators delight”.

Each inspection is a strenuous mental undertaking. I pick up each and every one my earthly possessions and I place them in and around every home we see. The couch, the bed, the microwave, the rug, the bikes. I even conjure up items we don’t have yet and move them in too. The puppy, the veggie garden, the car.

Then I seek out its dirty secrets. Every house has them. I get on my knees to find them. Like the mold at the back of the cupboards. Cracks down the walls, on the ceiling. Uneven floorboards. Evidence of termites.

We ask questions:

Why is the owner selling?

(More than once it has been a deceased estate, with one particularly helpful agent highlighting the “sad” fact that winter tends to be a “tough time” for the elderly).

Have you had much interest?

(The answer is always yes and is rarely to be believed).

Then I do one last circuit of the house and repack all my things. I take my pictures off the walls and my coffee table from the lounge. I toss them all into a ginormous sack, which I heave over my shoulder and lug to the next house. It is a tiring exercise.

We have been looking in the same two suburbs for more than a month now and the local agents know us well. They greet us at each front door like we are their invited guests.

They give us a little wink and we have a chuckle, though it is becoming less and less amusing.

At a recent inspection an agent said to my husband, Mate I’m sick of seeing you.

Mate, we’re sick of seeing you too.

Sometimes we even go to auctions for fun!

(What have we become?)

But it is not fun. It is, in fact, demoralising. Properties routinely sell for $100,000 more than expected and we leave in silence. There is simply nothing to say.

When we are not looking at houses online or in person, we are thinking about them and talking about them.

We complain about the foreign investors pricing us out of the market. We curse all the baby boomers and savvy investors who own two, three, four properties each.

All we would like, please, is a modest place to live, please, with walls and a roof, please. Just one. We will cherish it and make it our own, and we will not exploit it. We will not use it as a conduit to increase our wealth.

So far we have spent $1000 on building and pest reports, only to be outbid at auction or in a silent bidding war beforehand.

The agent calls the vendors, calls us, calls the other buyers, calls the vendors, securing price increments of $2000, until we pull out. It is boring and tiring and predictable.

The very same agent who is sick of seeing us is also very encouraging. You are doing the right thing, you have a good strategy, just keep looking, he says.

And we will.

And I will keep looking forward to the day when we can leave our pictures on the wall for good and I can stop packing and unpacking all my things.


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