The Redfern Terrace: Week 186

Illustration of a terrace home in Sydney. By: Stephanie Potell

Jason, the realtor, rocked up forty minutes late on his bike. He was in his early twenties and super keen about his job. “Because of the time of year,” he began as he led us into the house, “most of your flatmates are moving out. This creates exciting potential for you to pick your new flatmates. You could even recommend your friends and share the place with people you know!”

Ever since moving to Sydney, I have lovingly gazed upon the terrace homes that populate the inner west. It wasn’t too long ago that many of these urban homes were neglected and undesirable, but that definitely isn’t the case anymore. The same property that sold for $25,000 in the 1970s could now potentially fetch a million dollars. The neighborhood we were in, Redfern, had a funky vibe and the terrace we were looking at had space to store our bikes on the patio.

I have a good feeling about this! If this is the one we can move in this weekend!

Just after this thought popped into my mind, we reached the living room. It was dark and sparse like a bachelor’s pad. Jason pointed out the ‘new’ couch and then led us into the kitchen that looked significantly better online.

“We have inspections twice a year and if everything is not up to standard, then the tenants get a warning.” Jason explained. “If the house continues to be dirty, then we hire a cleaner. Don’t worry, this house had never failed inspection.” I’m sure Jason thought that was a great threat, but to me it sounded more like a great idea.

From the kitchen Barret and I were led outside and along the side of the house to the small brick courtyard. A bunch of our potential flat mates were huddled around the BBQ grilling meat and drinking beers. “We didn’t plan this!” Jason exclaimed. “I swear!” He chuckled before pointing out a small brick building in the furthest corner of the yard. “And the best part is that you don’t have to go inside to use the nice toilet- you can use the one out here.”

After greeting the group of guys, we walked back inside and up to what I really wanted to see- the bedroom with the terrace. The terrace was just as nice as I had imagined it would be. A cool breeze blew in through the double doors and the neighbor’s red bottlebrush tree blossomed at eye level. I could see myself on the weekend propping my legs up with a cup of tea and people watching the morning away. I loved it.

The only problem was the rest of the house. The online ad had mentioned two bathrooms, but that number included the brick outhouse in the backyard.

“Uh, Jason, how many people live here again?”

“It would be six including you.”

“And there’s only one shower?”

“Yes.”

No wonder there were only guys living there. “Hmm… I thought there were two showers.”

“Well, I can’t make another one appear.”

No kidding I thought, but it probably wouldn’t have hurt to advertise the property more accurately. Jason impatiently shrugged his shoulders and began reading every minute detail on the lease. You can have 5-9 people over before you need to ask permission. There’s a $50 charge if you call us out for something unnecessary like for a broken vacuum when really the bag is just full. The oven is gas which is great because it heats your food up faster. Are you familiar with them?

While Jason read the four page document out loud, one of the flatmates walked downstairs clutching his own roll of toilet paper. Jason must have noticed this too because he mentioned again how nice it would be if we got our friends on board. “It’s just better when you share things, you know?”

Jason was eager for us to sign, but I politely deferred. “I’d like to look at the bathroom again before I make up my mind.” Barret and I headed back upstairs. The shower floor was covered in hair and a million bottles. The room was small and humid and I realized that I already hated the idea of touching anything in there.

In fact I hated everything except for the balcony, and you know what? The price had somehow increased by $20 a week.

It was our first time house-hunting for an old two-story terrace and it would have been great if it were the right place, but that’s just not how the Sydney real estate market works. And so the search continued…

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