Category Archives: RED INK!

How I narrowly avoided owning a beautiful gracious villa


It was the sort of house dripping in what they call ‘street appeal’.  Set back from the road, large tree tastefully obscuring a modernised villa, the type which is fetishised in Auckland as the house of choice for anyone with a a authentic character aesthetic and lots of money.  Graceful painted woodwork in the front and big knocked out extension on the back.

I would walk past it, swoon a bit, and think nothing more.  Then one day – like a message – a FOR SALE sign appeared by the letterbox.

We decided immediately and without reason to buy the house.  No matter that we had only been in our current house for less than 18 months or that we had been in the house before that for only a year and were sick of moving.    The very fact it was on the market and we liked it was an incontrovertible sign that this house was *meant to be*.

The first open home was crawling, literally, with people.  Like a big nosy house party. Discouraged but undeterred, this simply meant we had to adjust our game-plan.  According to our new totally irrational logic, all we had to do was simply eliminate the competition by confidently dropping as much cash as we humanly could at the auction to try and scare off everyone else. That’s just what you do when the property market is going bananas – right?

I had fantasies about entertaining friends in a messy yet abundant open plan kitchen and modestly displaying surreal and unsettling modern art on the big white walls.  We pep-talked and plotted, called the solicitor and skimmed the paperwork.  Any negatives were parcelled up and justified, powerless in the face of how happy we’d be in this place.  Finally and truly happy! All that remained was to count down the days until the auction.

It was over in minutes.  The price leapt swiftly past what we were willing to pay and even beyond what it should have been worth in the pointy hot end of a hot market.  We didn’t get it of course. The other dude either had more money or more willingness to go into debt. We walked out of the auction room and I experienced a strange feeling.  Exhilaration.  And relief. Thank god – I genuinely didn’t even want that stupid house.  I had avoided inhabiting someone else’s dream.  The spell was broken.

We are still in our modest little 80′s style wooden house, with only 1 bathroom.  Sometimes more than one person needs to have a wee at the same time, which is mildly inconvenient, and probably the punishment we get for not buying a big gracious villa.   On the plus side; we decided to attack the mortgage and repay the whole thing as soon as possible.   One day in the not-too-distant future we will be free of debt.  And that feels fucking fantastic.