Christchurch: Is a city like no other

20:20, Nov 22 2013

The land of opportunity. That is what our city has become. OK, you might be reading this from your drafty, as-yet unrepaired home but honestly, this really is the city of opportunity. Or at least that's what you would believe if the people who wrote real estate copy had their way.

O for opportunity. O for oarsome. O for oh my gourd, are we meant to believe that?

Indoor-outdoor flow once meant a seamless transition between the kitchen and decking area. After boulders rolled down hills and through lounge walls it meant something else entirely. But at least back then, we understood the irony.

Post-quakes, you'd have been forgiven for thinking the property industry would fall into a sinkhole but it only took a couple of years and the headlines regularly started trumpeting record house prices.

Over the past couple of weeks, The Press carried these: "Homes dearer", "No stopping house prices" and "House prices hit another record". The rise seems unstoppable.

Who would have thought the market for wonky floors could appear so attractive?


As I write, there are 2237 listings in Christchurch, add the dreaded keyword EQC or the phrase "as is where is" and the number drops significantly to around 600. The majority of them advise the EQC work is complete but there are increasingly inventive ways to describe a home in which you can roll a wine bottle from one end of the lounge to the other.

Come to think of it, that's not exactly a bad thing.

"Think of your floor as a lazy Susan for wine bottles and cans of beer."

Anyway, "breath-taking views" no longer mean a hilltop house overlooking Sumner and the estuary, it's more likely to mean old Mrs Miggins' house up the road has already been repaired despite having little more than step-cracking in her knee-high fence while you're still trying to get a straight answer and a scope of works.

The shine has come off the posher suburbs. Their name still carries weight but now they can mostly be referred to as "reassuringly TC2". Doesn't that sound luxurious?

Beachside homes in areas such as New Brighton offer buyers some beautifully euphemistic selling points. You can "realise your real estate dream" by purchasing there now. You can spend summer building sandcastles near the ocean, soaking up the sun while work is being done in your home.

Enjoy all the beach has to offer while EQC does your repairs. Of course, this may mean setting up a pup tent, fending off errant dogs and men looking to bump no- strings-attached uglies in the dunes while you wait.

You can manage your own renovation project, pick your builders, pick your colours, pick your fights.

Now we've become the city of invisible brackets.

It's got the "wow" factor, (as in wow, you still think that's under cap?).

Choose your colour scheme (comes with heaps of cracks).

Our owners say "sell" (our owners were committed for mental health reasons).

Our owners have simply loved living here (it's just that they don't any more for reasons you'll find out in the years to come.)

Vibrant areas are being predicted all over the place and they're all "coming soon". In fact, we don't say "area" any more, we say "precinct".

This week one of the highest priced uninsurable homes appeared on the market - a $3m home on Balmoral Hill. Ads call it a "chance to secure one of Christchurch's premium hill properties for a fraction of the price!"'

It has a grand foyer, outdoor and indoor living areas, a guest wing, a pool, triple car garaging, and 2.25 hectares of land. It also has no insurance and is therefore another one of Christchurch's grand "opportunities".

The Press