Hellooooo gorgeous you! It’s a damn long time between drinks, for which I wholeheartedly apologise. The truth is, I’ve been i n s a n e l y busy BECAUSE (wait for it), we bought a house!
The whole process has been an absolute time and creativity investing process which meant that a few things fell by the wayside, luckily everything is settling down a little now and I have the chance to share our experience and give a few hot tips to anyone else looking to buy- fyi, it’s quite the (crazy, fun, upsetting, insanely exciting) roller coaster.
SO, the first question blurted out by our friends / patricks workmates / my mum’s cousin Tom is “why on earth would you buy a house?!” For us, it was the case of our former housemates (my gorgeous sister in law and her lovely fiance) taking flight to Melbourne to expand their horizons and having to decide between a) moving back in with his folks, b) splashing the cash to rent or c) taking the incredibly grown up step of buying a house.
Obviously, we picked option C! It just made sense- we had a reasonable amount of savings (more on that later) to dish out on a deposit, we are utterly secure in our relationship and we are juuust immature enough to be not really terrified at the prospect of being in debt for the rest of our lives- yay!
We (I) then spent hour upon hour upon day upon week looking up every single house in our region online. Seriously, http://www.realestate.com should have given me a loyalty card for all the time I spent loitering about their pages. It was getting draining and ridiculous visiting 200-400 pages a day, so we sat down and fleshed out exactly what we were looking for. TIP ONE: Figure out the suburb, dwelling kind and specifications you are after to make the initial hunt a million times easier. We came up with a pretty simple list- I wanted floorboards, a kitchen window with a nice view, good natural light and a little bit of character. Patrick was just after a big shed with room for all of his boy’s toys. Neither of us wanted to commute for more than twenty minutes to work / the studio and we were set on at least three bedrooms, for possible housemates / babies (one day!)
Then came the physical, tangeable viewings of the places we’d shortlisted. This bit was a whole lot of fun- meandering through places envisioning a future there, or rushing through shoebox-sized homes marveling at the skill of the photographers, who made them look bigger, brighter and a lot less wood-paneled. Most of the time we took each other, a couple of times we took doting friends who were very helpful in suggesting party potential. We were lucky enough during this stage to meet the wonderful Todd from Timm’s Real Estate, who was showing a couple of houses in our price range. Todd was incredible, even though he knew the chances of us falling in love with a house that he was selling were neither here nor there, he saw the first home owner sparkle in our souls and gave us some brilliant advice every time we ran into him. TIPS TWO & THREE (Thanks Todd!): “Don’t just know what you’re willing to buy a house for- know what you’re willing to lose it for. If 5K means it’s gone forever, will you be able to live with saying no?” ” Even though it’s an exciting process, it won’t happen overnight. On average, people will look at dozens, if not hundreds of places online and about six in person before they find the one they love. Lose the pressure!”
After looking at more houses than could fall on our fingers, we realised that we were in it for real and booked an appointment with a financial adviser with the bank I do all of my personal and business banking with. The initial appointment went really well, we got “unofficially” pre approved- with the send away that signing off was just a formality- and off we went, with stars in our eyes!
Two days later, we’d booked out the afternoon together to spend doing some intensive cupboard opening and ceiling crack inspecting, when we found it. Walking through the door of a placeholder house that we’d spotted last minute, we looked at each other and grinned broadly. Walking into the huge master bedroom, we smiled again. Following each other through the halls, it was nod after nod- floorboards? Check. Bright, airy open spaces? Check. A kitchen with a view of the wide open street? Check. A really cute character window in the laundry? Check. Heading outside sealed the deal- as we stepped over the shoots of a freshly planted lawn, Patrick’s eyes widened as he took in all 6m x 6m of a huge back shed. We were sold.
The real estate agent sent us off with an offer form, and was pretty casual about the whole thing- “Just text me through a photo of it when you’ve filled it in, and we’ll go from there.” We’d actually made an offer on a house a few weeks prior and been turned down after seven days of back-and-forth, so thought we knew that it was going to be a lengthy process. Nonetheless, we filled it in (lowballing them by 5K so we had some wiggle room) and text it off.
I was cooking a very grown up dinner of chicken nuggets and chips when I got the phone call that would change our lives-
Man- Hi, is this chloe?
Me- Hi, yeah it is- what can I do for you?
Man- This is Scott from SellUs; look, we’ve received your offer and I just wanted to call for a chat.
Me- *kind of surprised that he’s working at 6:45PM on a Sunday, puts phone on speaker so that Patrick can hear*
Man, AKA Scott- Would you consider going up to [the] asking [price]?
Us- *Feeling pretty smart that we knew to leave that wiggle room* Yeah, sure!
Scott- Congratulations! You just bought your first home!
Needless to say, we ate our chicken nuggets in a kind of stunned silence that night! Scott came over the next day with the contract to sign, and before we knew it we had big, huge, colossal moving plans booked in for the 21st of December- a mere six weeks away!
Next was the pretty important aspect of getting together a bit over $300’000 to pay for our neat little purchase- feeling confident after our first meeting, paperwork in hand- TIP FOUR: Get your paperwork ready. You’ll need six months of bank statements, two years of tax returns, twelve months of pay slips from any and all jobs you are currently in and a bunch of other stuff- don’t forget one bit, and make sure you call to check on requirements prior to your appointment. – we practically skipped into the meeting room, bursting with excitement. To say the meeting was a disaster would have been a chronic understatement.
When we walked in, the demeanor of the loan guy had changed dramatically from the week before. No longer was he “Cool Joel*”, as Pat and I taken to dubbing him in our text messages to one another- unless by “cool” you meant “frosty as heck”. We sat down and handed over our paperwork, and I started to get a little nervous- having only been running my own business for eighteen months, was I under-qualified to contribute cash? The answer to that question was yes, not that we ever got to it- Steve had things muddled up somewhere along the line and kept accusing Patrick of being made redundant (??) and the two of us of trying to lie about it (?) and / or cover it up (???!!). A confusing situation was made worse by poor Patrick assuming that it was some kind of shockingly timed joke and laughing while saying that in fact he’s just been given a promotion, and that if he had been made redundant he’d have to give his parents a call as he worked for them and they’d forgotten to mention it.
“I can’t help you” was the final verdict as we were shown the door, Patty’s smile long gone and tears threatening to spill out of my eyes. In hindsight, one of the issues is quite possibly that he didn’t take us seriously because we were so young- TIP FIVE: As a young buyer, you will encounter people who think you’re incapable of making adult decisions / payments / doing anything other than closing out Red Square on a Sunday morning. There are people that will believe in you that are far lovelier to work with, don’t panic if you meet an aforementioned because the latter will be along in no time.
Patrick bundled now sobbing-broken-hearted-spirit-on-the-floor-me (TIP SIX: expect your emotions to run very, very high during this whole process. It is not only financially trying, but extremely emotionally stretching too.) into the car and drove us down to HomeStart, who I’d spoken to weeks prior and had said that they’d love to fund our dream. It was here that we met Aaron, who had a heart of gold and a real passion for putting young people into homes that they loved.
We needed a deposit of around $36’000, and HomeStart worked with us to ensure that we could be in by settlement, fully aware of what home ownership meant from a financial point of view and confident with our decision. HomeStart aims to be more of a jumping block than a final destination- you can refinance with a bank at any time- but their interest rate, though high, wasn’t a huge deal at the time of buying and our repayments were locked in at $321 a week- less than what some of our friends pay in rent! TIP SEVEN: Get your foot in the door. It doesn’t really matter what you have to do / pay for the first six months of your loan, you can refinance pretty quickly and getting into the market is much harder than staying in it!
Did I say that the fun part started earlier? Because I meant now- the time to tell our friends and families to many a beaming smile / shocked gasp, pack up our small collection of possessions in our current bedroom and bathroom at our current shared abode, and shop shop shop for goodies to fill the house with. TIP EIGHT: Put everything on lay-by! Sweetest concept ever, when you get the keys to your house and move what you have in you can go from shop to shop (you’ll need a ute / van / truck) and collect everything they’ve been holding for you. Depending on how far away settlement is from when you buy, you can also have paid most things off so it’s not too hard on your bank account, either!
We were lucky enough to have some incredible friends (shoutout to Lucas and Mabbs!) who helped us move in a day, and are lucky enough to have some sweet jobs (shoutout to my new-ish barista role at the amazing Ripple and Swirl Cafe) (if you ever need fencing, Pelican Panels is the way to go!) which mean paying our mortgage is pinch easy- even easier with one of the aforementioned incredible friends renting a room from us! TIP NINE: Don’t be frightened of having a housemate. The payoff means paying your house off is super, super easy and it’s a heckload of fun too. More on this in a future post!
TIPS TEN, ELEVEN AND TWELVE: We learned a few more things along the way that I’ve missed and are a bit important; don’t shell out for a building inspector unless you know them or have really great word of mouth. Ours was bloody useless and cost $500, you’ll want to hang onto that cash around buying time to fix any potential issues- if your parents have property experience, consider just asking them to do it instead. // Always make your offer subject to inspection and finance, so if you suddenly realise you’re in for a dud you can run for the hills. // Try and keep your mortgage account a) separate to any you actually use, and lock it so you can’t take money out ever, and b) topped up in case something does happen and you can’t work for a bit- I always like to be at least two months ahead, so if I break my anything I have time to look for an alternative cashflow before we’re made homeless!
Hope this was a bit helpful and insightful, you have a beautiful day you gorgeous thing!
Chloe Jane x