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Relationship real estate: what makes your buyer's list?

RELATIONSHIPS are a lot like real estate. When you're younger, you're normally just renting something to see if it suits you.

Is it in the right location and is that really where you want to live? Does it have the kind of features you can co-exist with?

You're even happy to live with a few flaws because you're pretty sure you'll be moving on. As you get older, you're looking for something a bit more permanent.

You're willing to put your neck out - take a mortgage - if you think this one has some potential and may even bear a few improvements. Of course you're attracted to its original features but you'd like it to grow as you do and provide a comfortable or exciting place to live.

This is reasonable, to some extent.

But, while our tastes used to be simpler, the divorce rate would seem to indicate that, these days, most of us are like contestants on The Block.

We find somewhere that has potential and we want to totally gut and rebuild it so that, when we walk in, we are in a state of euphoria.

While this may work for reality TV shows, it's sadly ineffective on people. You get want you see, pretty much.

Even those makeovers you see where people lose extreme amounts of weight, have plastic surgery, get their wardrobe revamped and start exercising have a kind of whiff of failure from the start.

You just know they are going to go back to eating donuts on the sofa in their track pants and gain back that 35kg.

So, in your own hunt for the perfect partner, or perfection in a partner, maybe have a good think about what you want and see if you can write an ad that fits the bill, without being unrealistic.

Are you after a family home or an entertainer?

Would you like to go for the flash pad, with the high mortgage, or settle on something simpler and infinitely lower in maintenance?

What kind of views will it have - looking at the stars, or into the gutter - and what are its extra features?

For myself, I would prefer a mature house - don't give me one of those pre-builts or trendy minimalist homes.

It also needs to be the kind of place, too, where both the residents and guests can have fun. I'll pass on stuffy and go for something a bit left or hippy where you aren't going to die if you spill something on a rug.

I'd also like it to be structurally sound, but I'm happy to do a bit of work with the decorating.

Above all, it should represent real value and be the kind of investment that is quickly snapped up by a savvy buyer.

As for where it's located, I don't really mind. But it should be on a street that's green, tolerant and pet-friendly.

Interested vendors should drop me a line.

Helen Hawkes is a qualified counsellor and happiness coach. Go to The Feelgood Factor at

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