I am on the hunt for a house in London. Unexpectedly, this is a full time job. I’ve been on the phone to agents all day, trolling websites, sending emails, and coordinating with my future house mates. House hunting is a surprisingly stressful activity. Your hopes get raised, then dashed, then raised, then dashed. If it happens enough times, you start thinking that you’re chasing a dream, that it’s not possible to find a four bedroom place in north-west London for less than £600 (A$1500) per week.
And I’ve only been at this for one day!
Hahaha… Well, I’ve extrapolated from what my friend, Judy, has told me. While I’ve been writing up my dissertation, she’s been looking for houses. We’ve got a month before crunch time but Judy’s been disappointed often enough that we’re reluctantly letting go of dreams of living in a non-dodgy neighbourhood.
Luckily for the team, now that I’m homeless and unemployed, I can reinvigorate the search with full time fervour and constant internet access.
Judy warned me of a nasty real estate ploy, which I’ve already fallen victim to about five times in my one day of house hunting. When you express interest in an advertised house, the agent calls back and invariably says, ‘That house you emailed about, it’s already gone. I do have another house, it’s just come on the market. It’s a great one, twice as expensive as the other one and in a completely different neighbourhood. You’ll love it.’
It’s difficult not to get defensive when you constantly have to say, ‘That’s too expensive for me,’ and being told, ‘You’ll never get anything for that amount in this area.’ I’ve got a tactic, though. I make it sound like me being cheap is me doing a favour for them. ‘I’m sorry, that’s out of my budget and I don’t want to waste your time with an inspection.’ Then, they end up thanking me and I feel like I’m nice and honest (not like them), rather than simply poor.
We have found a perfect house. It’s in our price range, it’s exactly where we want to live, it has the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and it’s already partly furnished. Better yet, the agent has contacted us (proving that the house does actually exist) and we’re now arranging to view it.
Fingers crossed that this works out, even if I do have to pay a few extra weeks of rent while I’m visiting home in Australia. I’m trying not to get prematurely attached to the house.
No wonder people go a bit crazy at auctions. I can empathise completely with the emotional pressure to spend whatever you have to so that you aren’t disappointed yet again, and don’t have to go back into the pool of home hunters.
Come to think of it, maybe this is also why people ‘settle’ for people who they’re not quite in love with.