The joys of real estate

The bank sent me another letter last week detailing how much they would welcome me being in debt to them by. The letter never arrived, so I rang them back and sure enough they had sent it to my old address. Whoops. Double-whoops, considering that included in the envelope were lots of fun financial statements they’d wanted to see. Thankfully whoever lives at my old address now returned it to sender.

Looked at a house on Saturday afternoon, that was rather dodgily advertised as having 3 bedrooms and a dining room. On examination of the house, this clearly wasn’t the case. When asked, the real estate agent reckoned this was because it was 2 bedrooms, plus a third which alternately could be a dining room. Uh huh. Hell, why not list it as having a study and a family room as well? All at the buyer’s option, right?

In any case, my suspicion from the advertising was correct: gorgeous house, great location, but virtually zero back yard, small and no room to extend — and of course damn expensive for what it is! The agent rang me on Monday, and tried to convince me that one could build storage space or rooms in the roof cavity. And she also quoted a previous agent I’d dealt with last year (who worked for a different company — what’s this, they exchange customer lists now?) as saying “You’d be mad not to buy it”. Well, colour me crazy, but I’m not going for it. Not that I’m sure I could afford it anyway.

The thing about real estate agents is that, like used-car salesmen, some of them live up to the cliche. You only have to look at the advertising. If there’s no pictures of the inside of the property, you can be guaranteed it’s hideous inside. If there’s pictures of nearby cafes and parks and the railway station, but none of the property itself, that means the whole thing is hideous and probably falling down, and the best feature is it’s in a good spot.

You can’t even trust what suburb/postcode they quote. My sister (who is looking from afar) asked why a house listed was in Elsternwick but the web street directory couldn’t find the street. That’s because it isn’t in Elsternwick at all, but over the border in (slightly less-desirable) Gardenvale. They’re not content with lobbying Aussie Post and the local councils to move the boundaries, they ignore them too when it suits.

All part of the game I suppose.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

13 replies on “The joys of real estate”

geez, they must be getting desperate to sell these days if they ring people up at home. Hope this will mean falling prices in the near future.

I’m amazed that they are chasing you. I think Barb is right – the market may be on the change. Tis good for you and us, eh? We’re looking at being up that creek alongside you Daniel.

Having recently (well last year) entered the buying market, you’ll find that most agents are itching for a sale, regardless of market conditions. At the risk of sounding like my mother – lie back and let them finish what they want to do then shoot them down in flames :D

My heart goes out to Daniel and everyone looking to buy @ the moment. I am in this situation too. I also worry when they only show the outside of the bldg in the ads, it means the inside is too scary!!!

Telling you to knock into the roof cavity? How funny, another idea is to suspend a a hot air balloon over the yard as outdoor dining – well the air space does belong to you doesn’t it.

Confusing suburbs does not just mean they get the border wrong – I’ve seen places in Hughesdale advertised as Carnegie. And of course places in Carnegie or Glenhuntly often pass as Caulfield South.

Slightly more ethical agents may advertise something for ‘East Malvern buyers’ that’s actually in Carnegie or Murrumbeena. And then there’s units advertised as being ‘just like a house’.

You didn’t need to visit to find out the block was tiny; ‘low maintenance’ is a dead giveaway.

But there’s hope yet, with stuff like this being taught: print/pdfVic/07_english_section_b.pdf

I always love the real estate ads that have photos of nearby cafes, although it doesn’t necessarily mean the place is crap. It could be that the seller is too cheap to pay a photographer – there are so many little extras added on when you go to sell that a $100 or so for some pics might seem unnecessary (esp if they are desperate for the cash).

No property is so bad they can’t find something wonderful to say about it. Out this way, some joints are even lauded for having an inside dunny. Ratty kitchens and broken-down bathrooms become “Basic facilities”. A bit of a wreck is “Position!”. A total wreck: “Positiom! Position! Position!”. When even that won’t do, they’ll praise the old wreck for the block of land it sits on.

I love their billboards though. Here’s my favourite:

“Double-storied Divorce Discovery!”

(Well, I made that one up, but it’s close to the mark.)

Sunsets in Elsternwick are rather bland. I’d prefer Gardenvale. Much nicer. Chummy. Reminds me of Yarraville.

This reminds me of the oh so excellent Fred Dagg (aka John Clarke)
rant about real estate. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the audio anywhere online, it loses a bit not being delivered by Clarke himself, but it’s still very good. There’s a transcript of it on
the Echoice website, amusingly enough.

My favourite Billboard:

FIx it up or blow it up
(just wish I’d had the $200K to buy it – worth half a mil now….)

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