Crazy scenes in Auckland yesterday afternoon, party people: we made an offer on a house and it was accepted!
We’d been keeping an eye on the housing market since arriving here, but had also been monitoring the exchange rate. Although we sold our house in England before we left, we’ve been done over by the strongest Kiwi dollar in history, which has made it unwise for us to bring over our cash. It’s a high class problem, obviously, and we’re certainly not complaining about it, but we are paying a huge rent for our current house and we really wanted to buy something. With our ideal houses way out of our price range until the currency situation improves and we can bring all of our money over, we’d resigned ourselves to buying a small, average, modern box of a house to start with and toughing it out for a couple of years.
We went to our first open home last Saturday and saw a horrible, dull, bland house buried in surburban nowheresville. We intended to go to two more open homes that day, but the houses were so crappy from the outside that we didn’t even bother going in. We did see another house on Sunday morning and it was quite nice, but it was very small and didn’t have sole access to the garden. However, we did meet a lovely real estate agent at that open home (and yes, I realise that, for most people, ‘lovely real estate agent’ is an oxymoronic statement), and she called me on Tuesday to tell me about a new listing in Mairangi Bay.
I saw the house that afternoon, Tristan saw it on Wednesday, after returning from a trip down south, and we saw it one more time yesterday. And it’s a really good house. It’s got three bedrooms and a big downstairs rumpus room that could be turned into a guest suite with its own bathroom. The whole place has just been completely redecorated and it has a brand new bathroom. The kitchen and living area is open plan, which isn’t ideal (I really hate open plan kitchens and living areas, although they seem to be in almost every Auckland house, at least on the North Shore), but overall it’s fantastic.
Being able to create a guest suite will be wonderful for us – having that kind of space was on our wish list, but we didn’t expect to find it in this first house. We’re anticipating that Pat and Richard, Tristan’s mother and stepfather, will visit us for a couple of months each year, so being able to provide them with their own space is a huge bonus.
The only reason that we can afford it is because the garden is in a shocking state – it’s a sloping section, the tenants that were renting it deliberately killed the lawn to avoid having to mow it, and most of the trees and shrubs are long past their best-by date. But it’s a decent plot, and with a bit of fixing and the additon of some decking, it will be absolutely fine. The garden also backs onto a reserve and we need to build a fence between the two spaces, but then we’ll have all the lawn that we could possibly want (and we won’t have to mow most of it – yay!) And the house is on a back section, so it’s nice and private.
What I really like about this place is the way in which we’ll be able to take our time when it comes to fixing it up, because the house itself is already in fantastic condition and nicely decorated. We’ll have to get that fence built straight away, to keep Tui the Wonder Dog contained, but everything else can be done as we have the energy (and money).
We’ve lucked out with the location – Mairangi Bay is a small place, but it’s a lovely suburb, full of great cafes and restaurants, and it’s got banks, a petrol station and a supermarket. And the absolute best thing: we will be within a 10 – 15 minute stroll of this beach:
I NEVER thought that we’d be able to afford anything close to a lovely beach. It is going to be fabulous in the summer.
So we’re busily sorting out our mortgage and organising our building inspection at the moment, but – barring any problems – we’ll make our offer unconditional late next week, and then move in mid-November, when our fixed lease period ends. And then we’ll be open for summer visitors!
As soon as the offer is locked down I’ll be able to while away the days fantasising about how we want to improve the house and garden – I’ll post my ideas on Anotherfrock as they come to me. And – of course – I’ll find a good place to display my mad blackberry pot…