Whatever happened to the old way of buying houses?

by Bill Ralston / 19 April, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - housing
Just slap a price on it. Like here, in the US. Photo/Getty Images

With, say, a simple asking price.

Not being millennials, we can afford to buy a new house, and we’ve done so. It’s a sun-soaked 1950s bach, a bit run-down, with a two-bedroom sleep-out in slightly better condition and a rusting double garage on a stony beach with a splendid view of Hawke Bay and Cape Kidnappers.

It is what a real-estate agent might describe as a “handyman’s dream”. Sadly, I’m not much of a handyman, so the Bay’s builders can look forward to a huge boost in work.

Buying a house sounded an easy thing to do: we have equity, we have incomes, we see a property and we buy it. Not quite so fast. The property was for sale by tender.

There is nothing tender about that process. It is brutal on your psyche. The council’s rateable value was clearly less than people would be prepared to pay, so we consulted an online valuation service. It gave a price range that we would happily have been guided by. But after canvassing owners of recently acquired neighbouring properties, it seemed the real price could be expected to be higher than the computer-driven one.

Knowing all that, how do you avoid offering twice what other wannabe buyers might tender? Whatever happened to vendors simply putting a price on a house and buyers trying to talk them down? What about auctions, where at least you can hear what price is being bid by others and see who your rivals are? Curse the vile tender process.

Anyway, as you’ll have realised, ours was the “winning” tender. But that was only the beginning of the process. Enter, stage left and right, real-estate agents (again), insurance brokers, lawyers, bankers and tenants. Yes, the house has tenants, who I am sure are very nice people, to whom we must issue the statutory 42 days’ notice to move out so we can move in.

The insurance brokers noticed that 1m at the front of the section fell within a coastal erosion zone. Having seen from aerial photos of the site that there had been no change in 50 years, I felt confident in taking the risk on losing or having periodically inundated a single metre of land.

The insurers were less brave and the world’s most complicated policy ensued whereby the company disclaimed all responsibility for the aforesaid 1m of sand, stones, soil and grass.

We stupidly bought the property in the name of the family trust, instead of in our own names, and then later gifting it to the trust. Cue a flurry of activity by lawyers and bankers. Our other trustee was dragged into the process, signing scanned contracts, and my email inbox shows a volley of more than 100 messages lobbed back and forth between all the parties.

To be honest, the lawyers, bankers, insurance brokers, real-estate agent and tenants have all been pretty efficient and pleasant about the process. But it felt like running a marathon with sets of hurdles every 100m, which is exhausting at my exalted age. That is why house-buying should be done only by young folk, except, of course, they usually can’t afford to do it.

The crazy Auckland house market is infecting the rest of the country as property investors look elsewhere for cheaper investments and ageing baby boomers, such as us, flee the city for a quieter life in a nicer place.

Still, I am sure whatever government we have after September, along with Auckland’s mayor and council, will quickly solve the issue.

To quote the beer ad, “Yeah, right.”

This column was first published in the April 22, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener. Follow the Listener on Twitter, Facebook and sign up to the weekly newsletter.

MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

What to do with leftover food
78385 2017-08-21 11:26:01Z Food

What to do with leftover food

by Lauraine Jacobs

Instead of throwing out food that doesn’t get eaten, try some of the many ways of using it in another meal.

Read more
Podcast: Dead man walking - a conman's lie unravels
78369 2017-08-21 08:47:47Z Crime

Podcast: Dead man walking - a conman's lie unravel…

by Megan McChesney

Harry Gordon successfully faked his own death and had been living a brand new life for five years – until he bumped into his brother.

Read more
Should your social media account be mined by broadcasters?
78367 2017-08-21 07:32:43Z Technology

Should your social media account be mined by broad…

by Colin Peacock

The BSA suggests broadcasters should get permission to run items lifted from social media accounts - but is that realistic?

Read more
Kiwis pay tribute to Sir Colin 'Pinetree' Meads
78363 2017-08-21 07:01:47Z Sport

Kiwis pay tribute to Sir Colin 'Pinetree' Meads

by RNZ

Sir Colin Meads has been described as having "skills like a bat and the strength of a rhinoceros", as tributes pour in for the All Blacks rugby great.

Read more
Dental work for poor should focus on prevention - dentists
78359 2017-08-21 06:41:36Z Social issues

Dental work for poor should focus on prevention - …

by Sarah Robson

Winz spent $140m on emergency dental grants over the past six years, but dentists say cheaper checkups could help avoid more expensive work later on.

Read more
Leaky home victims file complaint against High Court judge
78290 2017-08-21 00:00:00Z Property

Leaky home victims file complaint against High Cou…

by Maria Slade

Robin and Patricia Kelly say Justice Mark Woolford’s connection with the founder of Signature Homes was a conflict of interest.

Read more
Northland youth get help designing their future with studio Akau
76389 2017-08-21 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Northland youth get help designing their future wi…

by Kate Evans

Kaikohe collaborators Ruby Watson and Ana Heremaia are the “Twin Towers” giving youth in the Far North a vision and a voice.

Read more
Labour needs more than star power
78356 2017-08-20 19:20:03Z Politics

Labour needs more than star power

by Bevan Rapson

Labour does a solid line in celebrity endorsements, but the line up at the end of its campaign launch was a reminder of its recent lacklustre history.

Read more