House hunting? I'm over it
The great Kiwi property ladder
Anyone who has recently bought a house or is looking for one will know what I'm talking about - househunting is stressful and tiresome.
To be honest, I'm over it.
I'm over trawling real estate websites every night. I'm over wasting my Saturdays at open homes.
I'm over dealing with real estate agents. I'm over missing out on my dream home.
I'm over being outbid by empty-nesters, developers and investors with deep pockets.
As a first-home buyer, at first everything was new and exciting. Talking to the mortgage brokers about how much money they would lend us was exciting.
I had visions of buying a cute little fixer-upper and it being like The Block - all fun and games and everything turns out OK in the end.
But as the months dragged on and more and more Saturdays were wasted traipsing across the city to look at yet another "renovator's delight", with 50 other young couples with the same idea, I slowly became disheartened and uninterested in the whole process.
I became pretty good at reading between the lines of the agent's description of properties; cosy = small, potential = it's old and crappy and needs lots of work, STCA (subject to council approval) = developers will be interested.
And I became a lot more realistic on what these places would go for, rather than what they were listed at.
I also realised that some agents will tell you whatever you want to hear.
Every time we missed out I felt bad, not only for myself, but for all the other people involved in the process - the solicitor, our mortgage broker, our moral supporters; the list goes on. I felt like I was wasting their time.
I read an article recently that said the number of first-home buyers was dropping as baby boomers and investors continued to squeeze us out of the market, and it made me feel better.
I'm not alone. I'm not the only one struggling to get my foot in the door of the property market.
Then, after a while, I gave up altogether. "I'll just rent forever" was my new motto.
I could afford to rent a nice place in a nice part of town that I couldn't afford to buy.
Perfect. Plus, my weekly rent payments would be way less than my mortgage repayments. New pair of shoes anyone?
While some say renting is a waste of money, it does have its perks - no rates, no body corp fees. And if something needs to be fixed, I just call my landlord and it's fixed.
But the idea of having my own place sounds far more enticing, and owning your own home is still the quintessential New Zealand dream. No more rental inspections, being able to put up pictures where I want to, decorate however I want to, having somewhere secure to live with no stress of being given 60 days' notice to vacate - and I could get a puppy.
Not to mention the tax deductions that come with being a homeowner, as well as owning an asset that is increasing in value as we speak.
My parents don't get it. They think we are absolutely bonkers looking at spending more than $500,000 on our first home, a crappy two-bedroom place in some average suburb.
It makes me so mad when they say they paid $30,000 for their first house and paid it off within three years. They have no idea.
These baby boomers and empty-nesters looking to downsize are the ones making it so hard by continually outbidding us.
No-one ever tells you how much stress househunting places on your relationship.
After the first weeks of excitement about open homes, our hopes got slowly but surely dashed and the arguing began. We argued about location, size, what we could and couldn't compromise on, sun, renovation potential and, mostly, about the budget.
At my wits' end, I would have paid almost anything just to buy a place. Something. Anything. Thankfully, my ever-realistic partner didn't allow this to happen.
Despite all the stress and trials and tribulations that go with househunting, I still want to buy.
I want my own home; something I can make truly my own.
We still haven't bought anything, but we'll keep looking.
The eternal optimist in me is sure we will find something that ticks all the boxes - eventually.
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