I'm flat hunting at the moment and apparently picked the worst time EVER. It's like Auckland is going through a housing recession so all those attractive young families/newlyweds that don't have drinks mid week or play music loud are now renting centrally instead of buying their first home out in the burbs. How dare they.
At each halfway decent place we look at, not only are there the dreaded 'settled down' folks but also the students (who often bring along their parents so the grownups can chat) and thirty or so other people probably in our position and feeling pretty darn sorry for themselves. I still hate them all.
The tension that exists between people waiting for an open home to be...well opened is very uncomfortable. Everyone eyes you up as you approach the building and you can almost hear people's thoughts; “Oh God another lot”, “Ah well at least we look richer than they do” and the slightly more blatant but most common:“Fuck off”. It's unnerving to say the least. Then once you're inside it becomes an even more awkward experience. Bumping elbows, lots of “sorry can I just get through here” and then the game of 'who's gonna get the agent alone first' ensues so the winner can move onto the pitch.
Oh yes, it is all about the pitch nowadays. Who would have thought that it took so much convincing to get a person to take your money?! After close to a month of searching, Tom and I are veterans of this tricky business. Just today we saw a place and took along a cover letter expressing what joy renting out this somewhat average house would give us. This was followed by a page of information about ourselves (essentially everything but what colour underwear I had on) and backed up by business cards and a character reference. Oh yes and it was bound. BOUND people, this is what it has come to.
There was a golden moment when we pulled this sucker out today. A woman who had been having a lovely chat to the landlord, no doubt dropping in the odd sob story, was interrupted by us. We pulled out our pitch in all it's administrational glory and introduced ourselves. The landlord flashed us an impressed smile whilst the woman shot daggers at us with her eyes. The funny thing is that we used to be the people with the dirty looks.
I remember looking a woman up and down like she was covered in poo because she dared push in front and start having a good old chinwag with the agent. She was so smarmy, so confident, so nice- I wanted to shoot her. Now I'm the smarmy one. My face is stuck in a permanent smug smile (my game face) and on more than one occasion I've turned to Tom and muttered “amateurs” under my breath whilst shaking my head at an applicant who didn't even bring a cover letter.
Yes, I have become a monster.
So we've figured out the power of admin which is good but another lesson has left a stale taste in my mouth. I've learnt very quickly that being a couple is not a good thing. Now I know what all those poor drug dealers looking for a home feel like...oh wait they all HAVE homes because being a couple is a bigger crime in real estate land.
We dipped out on the first couple of flats we applied for because we are a professional group including a couple. So in three bedroom houses we are daring to sleep four people. Apparently 'it's a numbers game'. Is it really? Do you really get more wear and tear by having two people share one room? I don't scratch at the walls or pull up bits of carpet. Neither does Tom as far as I'm aware. We're not wild animals, just people who dare to share a bed out of wedlock. Heathens.
We're determined not to split up because of this though and have instead resorted to sugar coating the truth, which EVERYONE does okay! I've seen many a place pop up on Trademe advertising for new flatmates after a couple won 'the numbers game' at an open home. It's dirty out there folks.
A contributing factor to this dog eat dog process is the presence of real estate agents. Much like The Matrix, agents aren't human but instead money hungry individuals with no souls. For some reason almost everyone out there chooses to hire one of these detached beings to take care of choosing the people who live in their property. Even though the agents themselves will swear they don't have this power. We constantly get “It's not up to me, it's the owner's final decision” but what they really mean to say is “It's not up to me...unless you shower me with gifts and then I'll totally hook you up”. Tom has even had an agent voice her openness to bribes via an email! At times I've pondered promising my first born child.
You can probably tell from my over use of caps on this blog that it's taking a toll on my mood somewhat. So if you see me in the street I'd suggest keeping your distance until you can see whether I'm on a rare high and searching for the silver lining or a raging hose beast who's just been denied for another rental property. I'm confident that once I have a house I'll be a much better person.
Oh and if you too are looking for a place and even THINK about stealing our binding idea there will be hell to pay....most likely in the form of me living on your couch for three weeks.