The Unconditional Blog

The impartial voice of the industry


Sharing the experience of house buying

Posted on: March 19th, 2011 | Filed in Buying / Selling a home, Featured, Online marketing

House buying is a significant undertaking and from a personal perspective not something that I have undertake for over 10 years, as we have been, and remain very happy in the home we have owned for this period. However a property appeared on the market recently. One, which really captured our imagination and set our hearts racing. As genuine and interested buyers I thought it would be very interesting to share the experiences and feedback on the process of this house hunting / house buying.

The house in question basically ticks all the boxes for us of a house that we would very happily move into – a house that, having kept our eyes on the market for many years we thought in that classic sense that there would “never be a house that would meet or exceed our expectations”! (and at a price that we could afford!)

I propose to post a number of articles in the next week or so as we progress through the process, a process that may or may not lead to us buying the house.

I intend to be completely honest about our experience. I have been completely transparent with the agents concerned, they have my business card as CEO of and we are approaching this as committed and serious buyers, not as a piece of consumer research; although I hope that there will be some interesting insights.

I do not intend to disclose the specific details of the property nor the names or location of the agents. I trust that the insights, observations and feedback will be of interest to buyers, sellers and agents alike.

The first experience for me in relation to this property was one of those moments of surprise and delight. I received a phone call from an agent, someone who I had not met previously. She stated politely that as we had previously visited an open homes a couple of months ago she was keen to provide us with early notification of a property about to come on the market later that week that may interest us – if we were potentially in the market for this type of house in this location.

I have to say I was very impressed by the professional and considerate manner of the agent. We had not registered to be on a database but given that we had not been barraged in the preceding few months by potential properties I was not offended by this proactive approach, especially when the property so completely matched our criteria.

The agent provided us with the address and a brief description allowing us that night to drive by the property and more importantly look up details on the property for free on Zoodle. First impressions – perfect!

I should point out at this time that the agent who highlighted this property to us was not the listing agent!

Listings presentation online

The property appeared on the next day and was superbly presented with a great selection of photos, providing a comprehensive view of the property. With the address displayed on the property nowadays provides so much potential to investigate the local community and amenities all from the comfort of your home computer.

Whilst property descriptions are useful the real power of a listing online lies in the photos and address. When it comes to photos there is never a situation where I could say there could be too many as it is amazing how easily you forget some aspects of a property from an open home visit where comprehensive photos can prompt you to recall.

Coming up – the open home and floor plans

Article Discussion

  1. Richard says:

    We too are going through the emotional rollercoaster of seriously looking for a house. We are immigrants and now in our 5th year of being in NZ, have decided Auckland is the place we will grow roots.

    We are amazed and gratified at the dearth of information available to the buyer of a property in New Zealand – it all goes to empowering the decision making process. It has to be said, however, that I can see why given the state of NZ houses and the nuances that exist in the property market in general.

    Where I do differ from the writer, and this is a minor irritation, is I find the photo’s very misleading and in the majority of cases have found them to have been manipulated to exaggerate the effect of space. All our research is done with 3 browsers open – realestate, GIS viewer and google maps.

    As in any profession you get agents and you get agents – on the whole reasonably professional.

    We’re serious buyers with specific requirements with a pre-approved bond – albiet not as much as what we would have liked but we are low equity buyers – we find we are treated as a commodity (income source) and are left to do much ourselves – which is what we would do anyway – but a little help and direction would be useful.

  2. Richard,

    Thanks for your comments – it is very interesting to share experiences. I will be posting a new update shortly as I progress through the process and will welcome your feedback and thoughts.

    As to the photos. On the website we receive over 600 new listings everyday and I would have to agree some of the time the quality, quantity and applicability (don’t want to say accuracy as they are accurate representations) are variable. It has long been a vision of running this website to help agents appreciate the value of great photos – professionally taken. The message is getting through slowly.

    In the case of the property we are looking at the photos are great – in quality, quantity and applicability. However I equally use Google maps and Zoodle to supplement the review of property on the market.

    I would be disappointed to think that you are treated by agents as a commodity – without you as buyers they have no hope of making a sale and in today’s market which definitely favours buyers I would have thought you would have been treated better.

  3. Richard says:

    Thanks for the response Alistair,

    Another thing – our bank has been quite unambiguous is telling us that auctions are a no-go area. We are however finding auctions are increasing in prevalence. As a result we are precluded from about 50% of available stock. Is our bank being particularly difficult or is this a reasonably common approach with financial institutions? I think its to do with the fact the sale is unconditional at the fall of the hammer – making the usual due diligance investigations expensive and risky.

    I can’t imagine I’m the only buyer in these circumstances and are agents aware of the implications of advising vendors to go to auction?

    Back in January we put in an offer on a “negotiation” property – only to be told there were 6 offers submitted on the same week-end. The agent then advised the vendor his interests would be better suited if he were to go to auction. In the end the hammer fell at $6,000 more than our offer was in the first instance – and we were prepared to negotiate up. Who benefited from this decision?

  4. Richard

    Very interesting to hear of this situation with auctions – especially the reaction of banks. As you say you can appreciate their perspective – they are and have to be (post GFC) cautious.

    As you will see in the forthcoming post on my personal experience of house buying we encountered exactly the same predicament as you have with the auction process. I will spell out all the details (not breaching any confidentiality).

    The auction process has (as seen from the perspective of the selling agent and the vendor) the benefit of a formal fixed timeline which is judged to bring a call to action – I am not saying I agree, merely outlining what drive the focus to auctions.

  5. Jo says:

    Love the idea of this blog from the buyers perspective. I have started down this (quite stressful) road to buying a house for the first time.

    After attending some open homes I have felt a bit overwhelmed by the phones calls from some agents afterwards. Obviously some are desperate to get the sale.

    Not really having too many people to bounce ideas off when weighing up one house over a another – I am becoming a bit torn between what I would like to live in and what I think would be a good investment that I can sell easily when I want to move up. A inexpensive service like on Location, Location, Location would be awesome!

  6. Jo

    Delighted that this is insightful – strange as I have been working in the industry for 5 years running the website and writing this blog for 3 years and not shared this experience!!

    As you will see from the next couple of posts (Open homes and property data – the DIY of home buying & The Auction) I have some interesting comments regarding the approach agents take to prospective buyers.

    I would agree a service like Kirsty & Phil from Location, Location, Location would be great – it is a buyers agent service. In this country it does not really operate with the exception of a few niche operations. The perception within the industry seems to be that despite the desire by agents to “latch” onto buyers – if they cannot guarantee to get a split of the sales commission they do a lot of work for no money.

    Question would be – would you pay for a Kirsty & Phil service – say $70 per hour to provide advice and support??

  7. Jo says:

    Yes I would – just like I would pay for any professional to give me the benefit of their professional advice – in this case in three areas:

    1 To help me assess possible purchases and give impartial advice on the pros and cons of various properties
    2 To highlight properties that are outside my comfort zone but that may actually be a better match to my requirements.
    3 To provide professional advice and assistance on pricing and the negotiation process

    This a huge decision for me and doing it alone is quite intimidating – the fear of making the wrong choice can be paralysing and you lose opportunities.

    Reading industry blogs and articles and pumping Real Estate salespeople for information can only get you so far.

  8. Jo

    Your response might just be the catalyst for someone to start to provide such a service as I am certain there are enough people like yourself who can really appreciate and value such a service.

    Good luck with your property search!

  9. Denis says:

    Regarding the comments of your writers, I’d like to add a few observations having been in the house hunting phase for some months now.
    1.In most cases, the photographs lie. Now this might seem a paradox, but a 5×4 m drawing room looks larger because it’s shot in wide angle ! And most pictures are shot in wide angle.
    It’s a disappoint when you actually see the place with normal vision. Result: a waste of time.
    2. “Four large bedrooms” on a floor space of less than 120 sq m is visually right because it’s in wide angle; but not so in reality. They are not large, but huge pigeon holes.Maybe estate agents should be realistic when using adjectives such as ‘large. At times, a flat is described as 3BR, when it is actually 2BR plus a study or rumpus room. And landlords/sellers are getting away with it. More waste of time.
    Maybe, the ads should stipulate BR sizes/ drawing room size, etc.
    3. We’ve learnt that before you make an offer, get a builder friend in to give it the once over. You’ll be surprised(as we were) that a lovely house with Cv of late 400s, was not even worth 380 K because the sins were painted over!
    4. Suggest that real estate agents should brief their clients on pricing bands. We’ve seen too many dumps where landlords are fanciful in their expectations. Too often, estate agents’ judgements gets clouded by the vision of the sale– and that’s another waste of time.
    5. Yes, use maps, use satellite. And check floor area to indicate reality. And if possible, do a drive by on a Friday evening/night. You never know what comes out of the woodwork !

    Wish me luck in my great home hunt.


  10. Denis

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Clearly there are issues which you have experienced which will be wise council for people starting out on a house search. As ever it only goes to prove how important thorough research is for ensuring all issues are identified and addressed.

  11. Christine says:

    Interesting to read your comments as I live in the UK and have searched for property in New Zealand as my son lives in Christchurch. Here in England ALL propert information specifies the dimensions of every room and as far as I am aware there has never need a legal a toon based on inaccurate information re room sizes. It would be unthinkable NOT to include this and I have always found it frustrating that it is not included in the details in NZ.

  12. Christine

    Really appreciate you sharing that perspective. I find it interesting how diverse the data sources are in different parts of the world. As you say in the UK no property listing would be complete without a floor plan with dimensions.

    Another factor is price – in almost all countries outside NZ property is marketed with a price which certainly makes it easier for evaluation for prospective buyers.

  13. […] this series on “Sharing the experience of house buying” in which I am keen to provide a first hand experience of home hunting and […]

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