Three-bed brick home out of reach

16:00, Feb 28 2014

Press journalist and first-home hunter Georgina Stylianou shares the highs and lows involved with getting a wobbly foot on the great property ladder.

It's 10.30am on a Thursday and more than 100 people are packed into the Harcourt's Gold Auction Room.

From young men in high-vis vests, to suited-up investors, first-home buyers, agents and middle-aged couples searching for their dream home - this haven of money and homely promises has it all.

Frank Sinatra's Mack the Knife is playing as I navigate my way through the crowd to join my partner's mum, who has her investment eye on a flat in Brockworth Pl, Riccarton.

I went to the open home for the property and it was clear it would need a lot of work - rotting windows, a pretty grim kitchen and a tiny bathroom, no insulation, suspicious dips in the ceiling and obvious water marks. Two of the four bedrooms are like cupboards and the block of flats backs onto the railway line.

But it is in a sought-after location thanks to its proximity to both Riccarton and Hagley Park and boasts a great garden. It's a good doer upper - for the right person at the right price.


A quick look at the programme tells me that the 10.30am auction I rushed across town to get to is actually bundled in with eight other properties so the Brockworth Pl flat didn't come up until closer to 12pm.

Auctioneers Chris Kennedy and Bryan Thomson are a jovial duo, firing property cliches back and forth as well as the occasional friendly jab at each other.

''It's against you now Sir, can you give me another 5 . . . you know you want to.''

''Look at this kitchen - you can just imagine having a beer or a wine after a hard day's work, or even just a cup of tea with a shortbread biscuit.''

This comment just made me want morning tea.

Their attitude puts the less-skilled bidders at ease and their persuasive, yet firm negotiating powers, see buyers digging deeper and deeper into their pockets.

Each fall of the hammer is met with applause before the winners are ushered out of the room to cough up their 10 per cent deposit and sign on the dotted line.

One young woman jumps up and down on the spot with a big grin on her face after a tough bidding war for a quaint brick house in Papanui. She looks like a first-home buyer to me, I think. Her winning bid was more than $450,000. I gulp.

I enter the property compartment of my brain, flick through the folders, promptly remove the three-bedroom brick home category and hurl it into my brain's trash can.

A three-year-old house in Northwood sells for $830,000 and a shabby-looking 1940s concrete block house in Upper Riccarton goes for an astonishing $640,000.

A Colombo St apartment fails to meet the reserve and the highest bidder ($300k) leaves the room with the estate agent to negotiate. He comes back in with a bid of $355,000, sticks his thumb up at the auctioneer who then seals the deal with his hammer.

The Brockworth Pl flat comes up and only two interested parties emerge. The bidding starts at $180,000 and moves up in modest steps until my partner's mum backs out - too much work needed and at the current rent she would have to throw a couple of hundred at it each fortnight to make up the mortgage repayments.

The highest bid fails to impress the owners and a young man leaves the room for the all-important negotiations. He re-enters, ups his bid by $23,000 and wins the flat for $263,000.

Now that I could afford, I think.

It would need about $20-30,000 to bring it up to scratch but as I leave the auction room and step into the Christchurch sun, I don't feel like all hope is lost.

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