Sunday, 10 December 2006

Real estate agents, asbestos, beta video, etc

Yesterday I saw a house I really liked. While the fancy was specially tickled by the quantity of fake wood panelling dispersed throughout, accented with purely decorative Ye Olde Tudor Beams screwed to the ceilings (and by the decor in one of the bedrooms; orange walls decorated with diagonal black stripes made of gaffer tape) it had many other excellent things going for it and very few obvious disadvantages.

It is just plain "for sale" - not going to auction - and after having a good look around we offered the agent the advertised price, which she instantly rejected. So I raised the offer by ten thousand, which took it our upper limit, and I said so - and that too was turned down. She made it clear she would not even bother telling the house's owner we'd offered that amount. So Dorian returned the photocopied vendor statement he'd just received from her and off we went.

Although I know I'll probably find a house I like again next time we go looking I'm pretty annoyed about the way the agent acted yesterday. Since house-seeking is turning out to be one of those experiences where your negotiating power is basically limited to walking away, there's not much I can do to ease my feelings except complain about it on my blog. I thought a bit about perhaps bypassing her & making the offer direct to the home owner, who is still in residence (he keeps busy watching Top Gun and Young Einstein on Betamax) but it's not a good idea, is it.

The house which previously had the honour of being flavour of the month with me has a dead-set pool/rumpus room at the back (with a built-in bar, of course) and a smashing view out over gum-leaf suburbia from the front. It also has a roof made of asbestos which I ascertained would cost around seven thousand dollars to replace. There's always something. We may still make an offer on that one, if it sits there on the market for a long enough time to make the owner willing to accept not very much money.

Our best hope of finding a good house for our price depends on chancing upon an unconsidered trifle to snap up: for us that means a house so thickly encrusted with the textured amber glass, flocked Italian wallpaper, bronzed mirror tiles and mission brown spindled room dividers of the 1970s that most buyers will not be able to consider it without factoring twenty thousand dollars worth of stainless steel european appliances and Ikea cupboards into the amount they are willing to pay for it. I like the bronzed mirror tiles, personally, and would have to put them in if they weren't there already, but don't tell the real estate agents that.

The house in Moreland was passed in at auction and sold immediately afterward for $295,000, which we would have paid. I was not that attached to it personally (liked the racing-car wallpaper in one of the bedrooms, though) but I'd have been happy to live there. The Olympic Village house with the gimp cage sold at auction for $272,000. A few days after that auction there was a murder nearby, reportedly accomplished by running the victim over with a car, which is not altogether encouraging.

Even though we are not exactly spending a lot of time on this finding a house exercise I find it grinds me down very quickly. It's a massive drain on the imagination and in a way that I find very difficult to engage with and disengage from at the drop of a hat, which is what seems to be necessary. You have to vividly imagine yourself living somewhere, and you have to do that realistically, if that's not too oxymoronic, and then you have to be able to frictionlessly withdraw from that future you've projected yourself into.

Speaking of fantasy worlds Dorian has recently taken up playing Second Life; my computer isn't fast enough to run it properly which is lucky for me, I think, although I do find it even more boring and pointless than first life. This is the avatar person he Frankensteined up for himself:



The resemblance is not specially strong, but I admire Dorian for sticking doggedly to his real-life blondeness in the current climate of unsatisfactory blond men in Australia (Kyle Sandilands, Shane Warne, Kevin Rudd etc.)

22 comments:

&Duck said...

How dare that agent be so rude? She could at least have put you on some kind of list. It's wrongful advertising if they won't take the advertised price!

[glowers with righteous indignation]

Drewzel said...

Laura, I'm pretty sure it's not legal of that first agent to not take your offer to the vendors. Especially if you first offered the advertised price. I can check if you like... And I'd certainly be a-complaining to the agency she works for.

whitebait said...

Sometimes blond bloggers of the, erm, blogosphere ... salute Dorian for staying strong in these difficult times.

Dorian said...

I'm still hoping Kevin Rudd will do us proud

Tim said...

That avatar is like Hulk Hogan as played by Charlton Heston in a 50 Cent production of Joseph and His Technicolour Dreamcoat. That's not necessarily a bad thing.

M-H said...

I'm pretty sure that it is correct that agents are legally bound to present all offers to owners. Certainly when I was selling the agent used to ring me occasionally and say "I know it's well below the asking price but I have had an offer for $X." You could check with the agency...

Jester said...

Approach the owner directly. There's nothing wrong or illegal with bypassing the agent, particularly if they're not doing the right thing by the owner. You have nothing to lose by giving it a lash. Also, consider offering a price at a DISCOUNT (e.g. $10-15K) to the asking price.

Auction "indicative" prices are usually low-balled (to entice more people into the auction and thus create bidding tension), but sale prices pitched high to allow room for negotiation down.

Also, if you haven't done this already, find out how long the house has been advertised, and why the owner is selling - I would suggest dropping by the house and asking the neighbours, as the agent sounds like a crunt. It's also worth speaking to the neighbours to know what you may be living next to.

The reason why is that Maverick [See? I fucking told you, Harry.] may be keen to sell - there's tremendous psychological pressure associated with having your house on the market, particularly if you've agreed to buy elsewhere. If the place is still furnished, Iceman clearly hasn't moved yet, and it's important to know for your negotiating position how much stress the guy might be under.

Yes, yes, I know: you're recoiling in horror right now at the thought of undercutting an innocent fighter pilot. But it's a zero-sum game, Lucy, and there's no reason why you should pay more than you have to.

lucy tartan said...

The advertised price is reasonable and I've already emailed the agent (ccd to the agency manager) to protest yesterday.

You give me too much credit if you think I would recoil in horror at the idea of borrowing five or ten thousand fewer dollars.

Bottom line is, the agent really rubbed me up the wrong way and there are plenty more houses in Melbourne.

Ampersand Duck said...

Yes, but the wood panelling! The beams! The orange! How could you not fight for it? it sounds perfect...

lucy tartan said...

The agent is completely full of it. I had an email from her just now which made me very angry - the house is advertised at $290+ and she told me the owner would accept an offer of $325, which is ridiculously overpriced for a house of that kind in that part of Melbourne. I have too much actual positive productive work to do to consider embarking on dobbing her in to Consumer Affairs, but gee I'd like to.

kate said...

I think, from something I was half listening to on the radio the other day, that the seller would actually have to do the complaining (they're the one's paying the agent) but you could write them a letter with your offer telling them what the agent has done.

The person on the radio had made an offer higher than the house was later sold for, so the grounds were pretty clear for the vendor to kick up a stink.

Mindy said...

Sounds like she's thinking of her commision, not the vendor. I'd drop a note in his letterbox with your offer and a phone no. Unfortunately the agent will still get her commision if he accepts the offer, but you might just get your house.

harry said...

"Maverick [See? I fucking told you, Harry.]"

That's a real stretch there, jester.
No fightpilot would still have Betamax.

Wolfman said...

Like you'd know, Goose.

Tony.T said...

Rule of Real Estate Thumb: the reserve is always 10% higher than what the agents quote.

Kate said...

So you can buy (liveable not too far away from everything) houses in Melbourne for less than $300 000? Must redouble my efforts to persuade Mr Kate to move to Melbourne, though at the moment I have become obsessed with the possibility of him, and therefore me, getting a transfer to somewhere in Canada with his current company, as his immediate supervisor has just done.

Fyodor said...

You may think twice if he mentions Fort McMoney, Kate.

worldpeace and a speedboat said...

I had a really tight budget when I bought. this is the way I did it:

made a list of what I needed and wanted in a house. made a list of real-estate agents in the area and a bit beyond. went to them and said: I have this much to spend, and I want these things. what do you have?

they in their turn -

a) showed me bombs and said love it or leave it;
b) showed me houses I couldn't possibly afford, because they didn't believe that I was going to stick to a budget;
c) showed me houses within my budget that bore no relation to the list of wants/needs I presented.

finally I came across a real-estate agent who said - I know a house on the market for X, but I reckon you can offer (X - 15%) because they are over-committed and desperate for a sale.

it met all my criteria except the land size was a bit smaller than I wanted, and it's quite close to the end of the motorway (can't hear it inside the double brick, and not so bad in the very leafy garden I planted). it was the best house that I had been offered all along (y'know, apart from the mansions I would never afford).

I made the offer. they took it. it was/still is mine. I am happy.

never just look at what's in the window.

lucy tartan said...

thank you Speedy - that is such a helpful, excellent story. It's very good to be reminded that a place which isn't 100% on the wish list can still be somewhere a person can be happy.

Kath said...

Laura, we came across the same exhausting problem time and again. It IS illegal for real estate agents to misadvertise prices, but it's standard. One place we fell in love with (in Moreland, too) was advertised at $450. I said to the agent, "How much is the vendor expecting?" He replied, "Oh, the advertised price is $450, so add ten per cent and we'll talk from there." (It ended up selling for $505). I told another agent this, and he said it was standard: and it was. Every house we were interested in over an exhausting year went for roughly 10 to 15 per cent more than the advertised price. (One, in Brunswick, was advertised for $390+: it went for $460!) We ended up only looking at houses that'd been passed in or on the market for ages. Eventually we got a superb place that needed major cosmetic surgery, but it's been enormous fun. You're more likely to find one if you look at passed in houses.

Mark said...

"The Olympic Village house with the gimp cage" with the murder nearby? – Heidelberg?

Have you tried going for the houses with the eagles and/or lions on the gateposts etc? I especially like the ones with the very bad paint job on the eagles… that make the eagles look like they're molting.

agence immobiliere auch said...

Before signing anything for the transaction, make sure that you only deal with legal nd licensed agent . You can always ask for their license number or check with your local office if they are registered to operate in your area.