You know the feeling: that unmistakable, almost overwhelming sensation that a house -- perhaps even your own -- just doesn’t feel right. On the face of it, everything may seem fine; it may be freshly renovated, beautifully decorated and ideally located. However, on an instinctive level something is clearly amiss.
Probe the most ardent sceptic and eventually they’ll admit that some places leave them feeling decidedly uncomfortable. While this invisible unpleasantness and sense of foreboding may be impossible to attribute to any one factor, the implications can be all too real.
The belief that seemingly intangible factors can impact on our experience of a space was highlighted last year when a couple put a deposit on a house in North Ryde, Sydney, without being told that a young man had murdered his family there three years before. It was almost universally accepted that the house’s violent history made it abhorrent. Therefore, when the hapless couple justly cried foul and wanted their deposit back, the media, industry commentators and the public chimed in, clamouring for them to be absolved from their contractual obligation, even though there was no legal basis for their claim. The NSW Office of Fair Trading’s subsequent investigation into the matter resulted in the fining of the real estate agent for failure to disclose the home’s gruesome history.
According to Kylie Segedin, a real estate agent on the Northern Beaches, Sydney, the “feel” of a house can ultimately decide its fate at sale and can rub off on homeowners in a big way. In the 12 years she has been selling property, she has seen many “inexplicables”: houses that turn over very regularly, houses that seem to wreak separation or sickness on residents, and sales where a succession of potential buyers are struck by prohibiting circumstances. “Sometimes you’ll get gorgeous houses, with all the right ingredients, that sit on the market for ages. Then there are places I’ve expected would be tricky to sell, yet I’ve been inundated with buyers,” she notes. When it comes to the latter, buyers often end up purchasing something totally different from what they’d anticipated. She attributes this to the property having “a great feel”. She has also noticed that at some open house inspections, people can hesitate to venture beyond the front door, while at others, she practically has to shoo them out.