“Well, thank you for
taking me through the property.”
“No, thank you
for taking the time to visit.”
“It’s a lovely
“Yes, the owners are
sorry to let it go.”
“I am interested
in bidding on behalf of my client.”
“The auction is next
Saturday morning at 10am.”
“I do have a few
more questions, though.”
“Certainly, would you
care to be more specific?”
"I don’t mean to be
rude but I must point out that the brochure’s cabana dimensions seem
“The brochure’s not to
“Well, that’s obvious.
Here, for example, you’ve printed a living room that’s the same size as the
proposed tennis court.”
“Room sizes are
expressed in square metres at the bottom of the page.”
“Yes, in a font so
small that I’d need a microscope to read it.”
“What other questions
did you have?”
“Look, I know how much
space a tennis court needs. How can that sloping backyard accommodate a
“The area has been
checked by a reliable independent party.”
“I think you’d be lucky
to squeeze in a plunge pool let alone Martina Navratilova’s backswing.”
“Well, perhaps that’s
something you could investigate further with an architect.”
architects, which one sketched this proposed attic extension that would help to
secure “stunning water vistas?””
“The house has scope
for this, yes. Look at the other attics of the other houses on the street.”
“Yes but those attics
were installed before this street was heritage listed in April 1986. Is it
realistic to expect that council would give permission now? Don’t forget that
the current mayor’s rezoning this area to ‘commercial’. Is that why the vendors
are keen to consider all offers?”
“I’d like to qualify
that query and get back to you,” the real estate agent sighed.
“What sale price are
you expecting?” I’d ask, curious, while ticking off items on my clipboard with a
Mont Blanc fountain pen.
Some teenagers like
playing sport on Saturday afternoons.
Others go to the
When I was a teenager I
visited properties for sale.
I spent five years of
my life collecting large scrap books of brochures and price trends for houses in
Sydney’s wealthier suburbs.
Any house that
attracted my attention would be inspected. It became an obsession.
I pretended to be an
Exasperated real estate
agents got to know me by my first name.
I’d get the newspapers
on Saturday mornings and identify the places that caught my attention. House
visits were prioritised using a selection of fluorescent pens. I’d beg my
parents to drive me.
The hardest properties
to visit were the ones that stated: “Inspection By Appointment Only.”
My parents refused to
take me to these ones, so I’d use all my tact and guile to go on my own.
So I’d ring the
telephone number that appeared with the advertisement and pretend to be the only
child of very wealthy parents.
“Yes, my parents are in
Hong Kong for the weekend and have requested me to inspect on their behalf. What
do you have on the harbour for sale in Highberry Avenue? I’m looking for fully
renovated 12 bedroom homes in the $15-$20 million dollar range.”
I’d catch the bus there
and get off two stops too early in my suit and tie, pretending that I had a
I ruined slumber party
sleepovers at my house by insisting to my friends that we went and looked at
houses under renovation in my area in the middle of the night.
“Look,” I’d whisper
from behind a bank of trees while looking up at flapping construction plastic
identified under torch light. “I wonder if that’s going to be a billiard room.”
I’d even break into
empty shells of houses that were being prepared for full makeovers, roof open,
and residents gone.
I’d marvel as the new
house took shape like a phoenix rising from the ashes.
“Yes,” I’d say
excitedly to anyone stupid enough to accompany me on my real estate walks around
the area where I lived. “It looks like they’re installing double-hung sash
windows in the new wing to mirror the Georgian façade!”
Mum had a miraculous
ability to identify weaknesses in even the most stunning mansions that we’d
“There are panoramic
city skyline views and an infinity spa!” I’d point.
“There aren’t any
build-in cupboards in the bedrooms,” Mum would muse.
“The kitchen has Miele
appliances,” I’d add.
“The floorboards need
re-polishing and the cracked tessellated tiles around the courtyard off the
second bedroom are going to need redoing,” Mum would sigh.
disappointment Mum would go for the jugular and make me homesick:
“The garden’s going to
require more than a green thumb to claw it out of its current state. Hopeless.
It’s facing the wrong way, doesn’t get the sun that we get. How are we ever
going to have a goldfish pond and azalea patch like we have at home?
I’d listen and sigh.
She was always right.
“I like our house,” Mum
would say as she’d drive away from the ‘For Sale’ signs.
When my parents finally
sold the family house after 35 years we had an open house visit as well.
A lot of friends and
neighbours visited it. Many had comments and criticisms of it. I always thought
that it was perfect, though. It was ours.
“It’s nice to be home,”
Mum would say, as the garage door squeaked closed behind us and I’d gather the
real estate brochures from the day’s visits.
Suffice to say that I
watched Annette Bening’s role in ‘American Beauty’ and laughed my arse off when
visitors to a house with a backyard described the tropical pool oasis as a
“concrete hole.” It brought back very funny memories!
Did you have any
unusual hobbies as a teenager that you’d like to share?