Where did AuctionReady come from?
Before you buy a house you want to know what you’re getting. Usually that means getting experts to check on it’s condition, maybe that the price is reasonable, etc. It’s expensive to do right, and if it’s an auction, you need to do it all beforehand. What if you are then out-bid at the auction?
The story for me personally begins while looking to buy a house in post earthquake Christchurch, early 2012.
Back then most houses had not had their repairs done. Online listings would never mention the EQC topic unless the repairs had been done and photos would rarely show any damage.
Invariably when we would turn up at an open home there would be some glaring major issue. From huge swathes of cladding missing to “fault lines” in the hallway floor where a crack went through the entire house. There was no certainty as to how much work was needed to remedy this damage or when EQC would get to it.
We had friends who bought a house at auction just before the first quake of September 2010. The quake wrote off the house. Fortunately for them it occurred before the sale was finalised and after a protracted battle they managed to get out of the sale.
We wanted to avoid severely damaged houses. There were many uncertainties including the fact that the Technical Categories related to liquefaction potential had not been figured out. Many people were recommending getting expensive specialist reports such as geo-technical assessments.
Of course many of these houses were selling by auction. We were amazed to discover that, in almost all cases, the vendors had not provided any reports. Not even building reports. If we wanted some degree of certainty of what we were buying we’d need to spend thousands of dollars. And then potentially miss out at auction.
My background is in computer software development. I enjoy solving problems.
I wondered why the estate agents were not coordinating so that prospective buyers could share the cost of this due diligence. Then I realised that they would not be seen as truly impartial as they are working for the seller.
I developed a plan of how to solve this via an independent website that would facilitate the sharing of the costs of due diligence between prospective buyers.
It wasn’t until a few months later in late 2012 that I started looking into it in more detail. But the model I had in mind had a problem I couldn’t solve at the time.
18 months later, in 2014 I came across the Termite House story. I realised that there are vulnerable people out there, especially first home buyers, who are struggling with the cost and complexity of due diligence.
The Termite house couple above got help because their case was so extreme it got media attention. How many cases are there out there where people have lost tens or hundreds of thousands due to buying a house with a undiscovered problem and have had to quietly live with it?
My conclusion was that I wanted this idea to exist regardless of who does it. I took my idea to Christchurch Start-Up Weekend in March 2014 where we won the competition (under the name Houseintel). Unfortunately the model we came up with there was also ultimately unworkable so was not taken further.
In early 2015 I came up with a new model and planned it out in detail with the help of Del Robinson. This was the fourth model we evaluated and is the one now used on this website.