Interview with Steve Makris
Whether you're still house sharing or once did, most people have experienced the housemate from hell. Whether they are messy, a habitual borrower, arrogant, lazy or have the inability to wash dishes, they are very capable of driving the most sane person absolutely crazy!
Steve Makris, founder of Real Estate Tube and a fully licensed real estate agent with over 25 years in the industry, has come across many -unique' individuals who have offered a room and lived to regret it. To save yourself from these sock-stealing housemates from hell, here are his five conventional and less conventional ways to help you avoid them. These include:
The best way to sift out the nightmare housemate is through a background check. Being thorough is crucial, as unexpected discoveries can emerge from the darkest corners of the web. There are an assortment of background checking programs available online, providing the suitable check. Costs may apply during this process but this is a minor expense when ensuring you escape the clutches of the housemate from hell.
Social media reveals all:
Social media provides us with endless streams of information regarding users' personal details. During the tedious endeavour of finding that perfect housemate social media has proven to be a valuable tool for collecting information. If you're a quiet homebody and looking for a like-minded individual, a quick search on social media, may reveal that the housemate who applied has an abundance of wild, party images suggesting they could be loud, disrespectful and a creature of the night. On social media, you can also find mutual friends that you have with the person. If so, you can ask them for their opinion of the roommate. This is the best way to find out what sort of person they really are. Also check their LinkedIn profile to see how long they have worked at their current employment. If they have stable long term employment, you know they are consistent and dependable.
The tidy test and canine check
When the potential housemate comes over to see the apartment give them a glass of water during the chat. If, once they have finished the beverage, they take the glass back to the kitchen then you know they are going to be clean and tidy. If you have a pet, ensure it makes its presence known during the interview. The reaction your furry friend receives will be a clear indication of whether the interviewee is a keeper or not. Also if the potential housemate doesn't like dogs or cats, throw them out, you don't need canine/feline haters in the house.
Be honest about yourself:
Everyone's definition of the ideal housemate can vary depending on your own personal preferences. If you are completely open and honest about the person you are, your possible housemate will be more inclined to reveal more about themselves. You may just find out that YOU are the housemate from hell.
Once the potential housemate comes in for a chat, give them a pre-made questionnaire with questions about favourite TV-shows, hobbies, movies etc. This will give you more insight into their personality. If you're a Game of Thrones fan and they are more inclined to have a marathon session of Gilmore Girls, get them out of the apartment…fast!
For more information visit www.realestatetube.com.
Question: What makes 'the housemate from hell"?
Steve Makris: The -housemate from hell' can take many forms, but they all share the same trait: they put themselves before anyone around them. It could be that they keep you up at night with incessant noise or when telling them to do the dishes you might as well be speaking a foreign language. Maybe they just really wanted that last beer in the fridge that definitely didn't belong to them. To this breed of housemate, the only thing that matters is what they want in any given moment.
Question: What qualities make a good housemate?
Steve Makris: Living with others is about give-and-take, and a good housemate recognises this. Good housemates are empathetic, respectful and diligent. They help around the house, they pay their rent on time and they respect your space and property. They make a conscious effort to make living in a share house as painless as possible.
Question: Are you surprised that a quarter of Australians have experienced 'the housemate from hell"?
Steve Makris: It doesn't really surprise me, no. Many Australians are far too lax about the way they screen housemates. Once you've got a nightmare housemate on your hands it can be very hard to get rid of them, so it's important to weed them out early.
Question: Is it possible to ask for a background or reference check for a housemate?
Steve Makris: Absolutely. Let's be honest: nobody is going to tell you they have a terrible rental history. For a small fee, agencies like tenancycheck.com.au can run a thorough search and find out if they've been blacklisted before. You can do this online and it's relatively cheap for peace of mind. References are also a great way of uncovering dirt, especially if you can get a few across each category: personal, previous landlords and employers.
Question: What should you look for on the social media of an applying housemate?
Steve Makris: Check for steady employment: check their LinkedIn, or else see how long they've had their current job listed on their Facebook profile. See if you have any mutual friends and if so, reach out for a judgement of the potential housemate's character. Take a look at the content they upload to social media – is a good night for them clubbing until 4am, or curling up with a cup of tea and a book? Use social media to get a general overview of who the housemate is and whether they mesh well with your personality.
Question: What's involved in a -tidy test'?
Steve Makris: The -tidy test' is a savvy little trick I've known people to do when housemate hunting. When the potential housemate comes over to be interviewed, give them a glass of water while chatting to them. If they take their empty glass to the kitchen when finished, you get a glimpse into what their household habits will be.
Question: During the first meeting, of a housemate, what questions should be asked?
Steve Makris: Prepare a standard questionnaire beforehand. Make sure to cover the basics (How often do they work? Is it a stable job? What hours? Do they work from home? If they have a partner, how often will they be staying over?). But just as important as this are the more social questions (What movies and TV shows do you like? Do you like throwing parties? Having people over for dinner? After a long day at work are you looking to vent or be left alone?). These things may seem trivial but can have a huge impact on how comfortable you feel in your own home.
Question: Where should we be looking/advertising for housemates?
Steve Makris: There are countless services online to look for or advertise for housemates, but generally it's very difficult to get a sense of a person or a property just through images and text. Real Estate Tube has an advantage by allowing users to upload engaging videos to advertise themselves or their share house. This instantly gives you a sense for someone's personality through their body language and voice. And with properties, it works the same way. You get a much more accurate feel for the size and atmosphere of the property than when judging from photographs, which can often be filtered or taken at misleading angles.
Interview by Brooke Hunter