We're getting better at house hunting. I mean, we haven't yet reached the point where we can go to the right place and sit in a hide and the perfect house just comes up and eats grains out of our hands, but we've definitely improved from our early lumbering attempts to chase them down across the open savannah. Of the seven places we saw this weekend, three are quite livable, and one of those is (probably) surprisingly cheap.
But we still make mistakes.
One place we almost missed, on Sunday, by not double-checking the address. Two open homes at the same time within ten houses of each other - what are the odds? Still, we wasted most of the timeslot looking round the wrong place - an architectural embarrassment crammed into not enough land behind some rustic takeaway shops. Emerging into the sunlight, Susan leafed again through the details we'd printed out. "Did you see a fireplace?", she asked innocently.
Our real objective was a short dash up the road, which we reached just in time to find the agent politely bidding her last visitors farewell. But we were in no mood to take hints. Charging in like a SWAT team, we breezed through the house in three minutes flat. It was worth seeing.
Nestled on the southern slopes of One Tree Hill is the bustling suburb of Royal Oak. The house on Turama Road is astonishingly ugly, has very little land, and is in urgent need of a new kitchen and bathroom - but surprisingly roomy on the inside, and cheap. Worth considering.
1/87 Te Kawa Road is a pleasant enough house, but as usual some idiot has attached a massive deck covering more than half the garden. What's left is a vertiginous patch of ferocious vegetation that looks like it's stolen from the set of an Indiana Jones movie.
Our second visit to a house we saw last week in the rain. In sunlight, the problems became more obvious - most notably, the fact that the master bedroom faces onto a fairly noisy road. Still, there's such a thing as double glazing.
One place where road noise is not an issue is 305 West Tamaki Road. As we made our way down the rugged driveway, my strong impression was that the cicadas were starting something. Here, the soothing summer accompaniment to lazy days outside was transformed into something more like a civil defence siren. If a tsunami ever does strike this part of the coast, let's hope it happens at night.
The house itself was very pleasant - 1970s construction (I'm guessing), with a few issues around uneven floors, but good sized rooms and garden.
The cicadas followed us all day, right across to the tail end of Mt Eden Road, where the house we'd come to see had conveniently been sold to save us the trouble of looking around it. So thoughtful.
All in all, our hit rate has improved markedly. We chose to call it a successful weekend.