Auckland ‘ghost house’ sells for $1.8 million at auction

A century-old Auckland villa known to some as a “ghost house” for its tumbledown appearance has sold for almost $2 million at auction.

That’s given the owner of the three-bedroom home at 1664 Great North Rd in Avondale a healthy pile of cash to retire north to Dargaville with.

Yet it’s also presented a new problem.

Exactly how will the former antique-dealer move his paintings, model boats and emporium of collectibles ranging from naval telescopes to typewriters out to his new house.

“It’s gonna be a big move, I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff,” the man, who did not wish to be named, said.

“We estimated we’ll need about 25 trailer loads plus a couple of trucks.”

Luckily for him, developers moved to snap up the property at auction last month.

That meant the developers not only splashed out $1.8m – or $595,000 above council valuation – for the villa, they also gave the man and his partner a six-month settlement, meaning the couple could take their time moving out.

The man said he didn’t know what the new buyers’ plans were for the property or when they would build.

But it was clear from the start, they had no interest in the house and were instead eyeing the 756sq m block with its zoning for apartment blocks up to six storeys high, the man said.

In fact, the couple were so confident no one was interested in their house that they didn’t even allow prospective buyers inside to have a look.

Buyers had to instead contend themselves with simply looking around the yard.

And the tactic worked. Having considered selling the home for the last 10 years, the couple said they were “more than happy” with the price they got.

They had expected a selling price more in the range of $1.5m.

“We feel we might have timed the market at its peak,” the man said.

It’s an even more tidy sum, when you consider the man paid $23,500 for the home back in 1979.

Yet despite the seemingly small price, it hadn’t been an easy buy. The man said that back then his weekly mortgage payments were $40, while his total income was just $45.

He had to take in boarders to help with the repayments.

Later the man moved away and rented the house to students, leading it to “become quite a party spot, I think”.

At one point, it became well known with locals for the “weird”, colourful mural adorning its front door.

But then one of the tenants took that painting with them when they moved out.

More recently, it became better known with locals for being unkempt and run down.

When the couple listed the house for sale last year, a post quickly went up in a local Facebook page.

“They called it a ghost house,” the man’s partner said.

“People were commenting that that’s what happens when you buy a house and neglect it for 40 years. Hopefully someone will buy it and love it.”

Another commenter then wrote that they saw the “old man” at the house during lockdown doing the garden and that they hoped he was alright.

“They said, ‘I hope nothing happened to the old man’. He didn’t like that comment,” she said, pointing to her partner with a laugh.

Still, now it’s the couple having the last laugh. Their home might not be the hottest on the block but at least they’ve saved money by not doing it up over the last 15 years they had lived in it.

“A lot of people say they made money on their house, but they’ve spent a fortune doing it up, haven’t they, he said.

And while the home may have unconventional touches – like a hole in the floor the couple use as a cat flap by pushing a board back and forth over it when they want to let their pet in and out – the house is beloved and loaded with charm and character on the inside.

The man said he’ll likely miss the house, but won’t miss Auckland.

They’re moving to Dargaville, but don’t expect them to use their newfound paycheck to bask in too many creature comforts.

Their current house on a river in Dargaville doesn’t yet have running water.

“We are used to living a little rugged,” the man said.

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