Real Estate reality check – most Sydney houses are pretty strange

After spending two years searching Sydney for the ideal home, my wife and I are finally ready to delete the RealEstate.com.au and Domain apps from our iPhones. It has been an obsession that took us to dozens of Open Homes, hundreds of secret drive-bys and turned us into highly critical buyers and highly frustrated sellers. We also started cataloguing all the weirdest compromises people make.

Every home has something odd, if you look under enough rugs or check enough floor plans.

We found that over time, our standards dropped and our criteria loosened, but even still, some houses – even some we were considering bidding on – were beyond strange.

Here are some of the bizarro beauties we didn’t buy…

Barton Crescent Hurlstone Park

This is the house that got us thinking we should sell our home. Sure, it said five bedrooms but we figured that it was really 4 plus a study. Sure, it was hideous with wall-to-wall pebblecrete and would take years to salvage, but that would only turn people off, right? Sure, it was a good size block in a cul-de-sac near the train station, but if the agent says it’s affordable then… why did it get passed in for $100k more than what we were told it would go for? (To the agent’s credit, they refunded our building inspection.)

Here’s how we first saw it, followed by my own artist’s impression of how we may have saved it.

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Hampton Street Croydon Park
Again, we were on the lookout for 3BD homes but when a 5BD shows up in search results, you think you might somehow be on the only person to have spotted it. That is, until inspection day. This home had large living spaces, a pool, parquetry floors and off-street parking. And how many homes can offer you a fully-decked backyard! Every inch is ready to be oiled every year, allowing you to embrace the outdoors by standing, sitting in chairs, walking and chasing things your kids poke between the cracks.

Brighton Street Croydon
Despite my deeply held personal convictions, we even considered this 1980s McMansion. Miss-matched fences, seriously dodgy brickwork and a damp backyard aside, this ode to owner-builders had a sloping floor fit for Wet N Wild, plus more unfinished surfaces than a rock quarry. Plus, there were unfathomable decisions including a shower added to the rear of the kitchen. The kitchen! The laundry was nowhere to be seen but turned up hidden in the double garage – a garage to which there was no car access! Genius!

Higginbotham Road
Apart from the wood-panelled and windowed ceiling shown, this home had the strangest bathroom we’d ever seen. A fully moulded sky blue plastic shell, like a toilet cubicle from a 747. Easy to clean with no corners or crevices, but the feeling that the seatbelt light might come on at any time. And that was the ensuite.

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Barons Cresent, Boronia Park.
Even a driveway can make a house difficult to sell.
We really wanted this to work. We could get the kids into the great local school in this leafy suburb no one has heard of near Hunters Hill. This home ticked lots of boxes and then added a bunch more – bushy outlook, secluded property, north-facing, it even backed onto Lane Cove River which was visible beyond a mangrove boardwalk! Problem was, the house was on poles and the heavily sloping backyard was down 30 steps. The real dealbreaker came when we tried descending the narrow, steep battleaxe driveway in our new seven-seater. No guest would brave it, and I had palpitations just reversing out. No thanks.

Charles Street Petersham
Oddball from go to wo. It had enough character for me to ask for the contract while my wife was running for the door. This reasonably cramped semi featured the biggest walk-in robe we saw in any home. Outside there was an overgrown garden accessible only beyond a tree you had to limbo under. Their homemade glass atrium felt like an escape module. And then there was the garage, fit for a, err, shed.

Lyle Avenue Lindfield
The agent said it was an ‘idyllic bushland setting’, but being in Lindfield, that was a given. The house? It was a cool vintage number but the tree – a Myrtaceae myrtle – out the lounge room window was all we wanted. Yes, we genuinely considered buying a house way out of our area and out of our political and socio-economic comfort zone, all just to gaze at the most outstanding angophora we had ever seen. Its orange tones radiated like a bar heater. It was one of many on 1075 square metres. The house was a bit like Rose Seidler’s one up the road – with original furniture by the looks – and it eventually sold for less than $900k. Outrageous.

The tree was worth at least a million.

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One response to “Real Estate reality check – most Sydney houses are pretty strange

  1. I spend so much time looking at real estate, figuring out the good from the bad (there’s so much bad). The word flimsy comes to mind so often and if any agent says quality then it’s a fair bet that it’s only a veneer. Sydney’s market has made me very cynical. Looking forward to some good Aussie Houzz input!

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