There are scuba divers who dive in human waste. Seriously. Their sole job is to dig their way down into sewage tanks (do they swim? Is there wee in there?) and make sure the pipes aren’t full of, well, poo. It’s thankless, nauseating and still I’d dive in with a smile on my face if it meant never having to try to find property in Sydney again. Fuck it, I’d even do it without the mask.
We spent three years trying to find something, anything, in Sydney before absolute luck, a desperate seller and a vast amount of spontaneous bullshit on my part landed something.
We were so naive, we attempted to buy the very first house we saw. Another was literally falling down but we found the distinct slope in the floorboards ‘charming.’ We didn’t know what a sink fund was. I’d spoken to a lawyer once in my life, and that was at a party in 1994. I was rejected. I was very, very drunk.
After three tours of duty, we learned the tricks. And, Jesus, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. You must be cautious.
Here’s how the miserable process works.
The bullshit starts with the photo on domain.com. Have you noticed how they’re all shot at night with this odd yellow glow? They think it makes the place look inviting and warm. That’s mistake number one. Mistake number two is calling the agent and saying how much you love the place. Don’t. Be ambivalent. Remember, the fucking starts right here. Don’t give them the in.
Estate agents are filth. I’m sorry, but there simply isn’t another word I can think of. I’m sure there are some nice ones, probably the ones married to friends of mine. You’re all great. It’s all the others. They’re filth.
So you’ve found that little place with the yellow glow you absolutely must have and decide to inspect on Saturday with the thousand other people looking. Get there early. A junior estate agent with a fake smile who hasn’t quite worked out that cologne needs just a drop, not an overgenerous pour will be standing at the front door with the spam book. That’s so for the next five years you can be bombarded with ‘places you might be interested in.’ Don’t sign it with your real email. Remember this is all a mind game, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the agent. It has everything to do with weaponry. Mental weaponry. (Admittedly, real weaponry would clear a property of prospective sellers quite effectively, but it never really ends well for YOU.)
Your job is to kill off absolutely fucking everyone visiting that property. Here’s a tip. Everyone checks the email list for some nosy reason, so write ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ That should kill off three or four couples who will immediately assume you’re an expatriate investment banker rather than the nervous property virgin you actually are.
Never, ever go in as a couple. If you’re gay, congratulations! You’ve killed off seven couples right there. If you’re Asian, go with an older parent. Tell them to look smart but act bored and rich. Tell them to talk loudly in Mandarin. I promise you, you’ll be walking around a completely empty house if there’s the slightest sniff of Shanghai cash.
If you’re not gay or Asian, and you can’t find a same sex friend who’s prepared to hold your hand and snuggle, you’re going to have to go in there on equal footing with the others. But don’t worry, we can kill them off one by one.
You’ll be in there with about ten couples. Two will be neighbours. You can tell as they’ll be the only people actually reacting as human beings. You can’t do this. Hide any excitement. In fact, be immediately disappointed. If you’re up to it, be angry. Find fault in everything. Fittings. The walls are fucking CHIPBOARD. You can hear the motorway. There’s damp. The kitchen’s from IKEA. Fuck it, make up shit. Just make it convincing. Bathrooms are a good place for a stage whisper. When a couple walks in, just finish the whisper with ‘…looking at the kids in a funny way’ or ‘…the guy outside looked like a junkie.’ That might kill off couple five.
Looking like a builder is the Milan Anti Tank Weapon of house clearing but it needs serious research. It means you can sprinkle words like ‘Mini excavator rock hammer’ and ‘concrete saw’ confidently so everyone in earshot thinks you’re just going to pull the place down and stick up something square and grey and expensive.
At some stage, you’ll find yourself in the kitchen where the main Sith Lord can be found. Don’t ask what he’s ‘expecting’ as absolutely everything he will say other than his name will be absolute bullshit. If there’s a couple in earshot, show pleasant surprise at how low the figure is, tell him you were expecting at least a figure three or four hundred thousand more and immediately grab a contract happily. If you’re lucky, you might kill off the kitchen couple.
If you’re particularly unlucky, you’ll find someone playing the exact same game as you. Now it’s a risky tactic, but dropping in a few choice lies about buying the place for your son/daughter/Mum/Dad or playing the JP Morgan angle could knock them out.
As you’re walking out, do not look at the front of the house. You’re angry. It’s awful. Just keep walking to the car where you can gush all you want.
So let’s assume you like yellow glow house and you’ve managed to get rid of some of the detritus. Your job now is getting the thing before auction as auctions are a pit of human misery and despair.
And here’s how you do it. Imagine what it’s like standing in front of the same place Saturday after Saturday after Saturday. It must be fucking miserable. They want to sell the place. Remember that. Give them a chance to have their Saturday back. Make an offer pre-auction, but tell them you won’t be attending. This is, of course, bullshit, but if you’re believable the agent’s got an out. After all, if it gets passed over he’s back next week with captain cologne. You might get lucky.
If you don’t, you’ll have to participate in the nightmare that is the auction process. I did it once in the back garden of a beautiful house we’d fallen in love with. And then a fucker in a pinstriped suit and ‘look at my cash’ braces turned up. We went up against each other for a few rounds until I hit my absolute max. And then the motherfucker smiled at me so I added twenty thousand for fun.
I like to think that twenty grand was for his holiday or penis operation – either one I was happy to remove.
It’s a mantra really. Kill, kill, Be Gay, Be Asian, Kill, Kill. Bullshit.