Yay! We can never stop working ever because we’re in lifelong debt! But purely happy about it! YAY!
I am breathing a great sigh of relief as I write this, because in the words of Jesus himself, IT IS FINISHED. I think this may be the first time in the past months that I feel properly and truly relaxed. This is not an exaggeration. Buying a property is not easy or, in my case, particularly enjoyable. But we did it! We bought up!
Hang in there for the end of the post, when I share a couple tips and tricks in the whole daunting house buying thing, but for now, here’s a little snapshot of Corey and I and how we fell into this rollercoaster of real estate.
According to Business Insider, Sydney is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, second only to Hong Kong. We have one of the most unaffordable housing markets in the entire world and though we personally live outside of direct Sydney, the surge of people trying to get the hell out of there, is having a domino effect on our properties too. To put this in perspective, the previous owners of the property we’ve just bought, have basically doubled what they paid for it in four years. Four years. It was a good investment on their part, the lucky ducks.
Because prices are so high and real estate so competitive, we knew from the beginning we would need all the help we could get. We planned to skip the ‘first home owner’ thing, which is when a couple can only afford to buy a cheap (still bloody expensive in this market) 3 bedroom in a somewhat remote housing estate with a slab of concrete for a backyard. I am not in any way knocking that method – a house is a house, and honestly some people don’t want a backyard, so if it works, go for it.
Unfortunately, both myself and Corey are ambitious humans, and we wanted land and a lot of it. Corey wanted acres for motorbikes and sheds, and I wanted space to build my dream home. We spent almost eighteen months looking for properties, and waiting until we had enough collateral to really buy up what we wanted. We decided we wanted acreage with an old house that we could renovate while we waited to build our dream home. A few did come up, but many had compromises, some sold before we could decide, and others were above our price range.
We had set ourselves a very specific and in some ways, difficult target. We were extremely location-specific, and very fussy about the land we would buy. Eventually, after a long (long) time of looking, in which I threw about 600 tantrums and eventually told Corey to, quote unquote, “take my money and buy a place, I don’t want to deal with it anymore” (buying a place really brought out the best in me), a property came onto the market.
It was almost 8pm on a summer evening, a few weeks pre-Christmas. We were relaxing at his parents’ home, waiting for our homemade pizza to cook (Friday night tradition) and sipping various beverages, scrolling through realestate.com. I will say this once and once only. Buying a property consumes you. Don’t ever think you’ll get five seconds away from the process until there is a big SOLD sign on the house.
The property was easy to spot, because it was the first new one on our list of searches in the past 24 hours. It was only a minute drive down the road, and we all jumped up immediately to drive down and take a look. We’re that kind of family.
The house was a dream. Old but charming, big enough for us and very cosy. My number one on my wishlist was natural light, and the amount of windows in this house is madness. Sunlight and greenery, wherever you look. Corey wanted land, and land we got. Half cleared, to satisfy me and my shallow need to look nice, and half needing work, which suits Corey and his desire to make this property our own with his bare hands (and help of some heavy machinery). We both stepped onto the property and kind of looked at each other and that was that.
Four months later, and countless offers, counter-offers, conversations with our bank and even one freak ‘sold’ (someone else put down an offer and then it fell through), we closed on the property and at a mere twenty-two years old, became home owners.
The process looks easy in those short lines, but how different it was. I didn’t sleep well for the whole four months. We agreed we wanted this property, and then another would come up on the market making us unsure. We got overwhelmed by the cons and then we worried the pros would push the price too high. We didn’t know if our real estate was lying to us and it was a long run to get our finances approved. We sat around in the evenings discussing if we could fit children in that house, even though that is years away. We talked about whether or not we could fit a baby in the master bedroom with us and if another bathroom was necessary. It’s terrifying. One day you’re a young adult wondering what you’ll have for lunch, and the next, you’re getting into a million dollars of debt and discussing children. Like I said, rollercoaster.
Bottom line is; the property was bought. I am thankful every second for Corey who is both patient and cool-headed in negotiating. I wasn’t much help in this process (I cried at least twice a week), but he’ll thank me when we reach the renovating (wait till I get in there). And now, here we are. Two kids and their dogs, moving into a house that makes me swoon, even in its current state.
Today, as you’re reading this, we are living surrounded by cardboard boxes and scrunched up newspaper. We’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor. But we’re ecstatic. This is our home and it’s an adventure we’re purely ready for.
Stay tuned for 1001 renovation-themed posts because it’s about to get real crazy over in this neck of the woods.
THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
- Stamp Duty. If you’re taking out the loan without help of a guarantor, be warned that this chunk of money cannot come from the loan. You gotta take it out of your savings. In saying that, the money you’re lent from the bank, can only be used to purchase the house. This was something that frustrated me, because we borrowed less than our maximum, but would’ve liked a little extra for renovations.
- Real Estate Agents. We dealt with 3-4 different agents for different properties, and I will make this clear right here: you can’t trust anything. It’s basically The Hunger Games of real estate. The amount of times we were told “someone has made an offer, quick, you need to offer above this amount to stay in the game!” was in short, silly. My advice? Don’t be afraid to lose the property, hold to your poker-face and only pay what you want to.
- Speaking of advice…get it! From people! Google isn’t enough. Go find people who have done this before. Corey and I got lucky – his parents have bought land, built on it, sold and started all over again countless times. But if your parents don’t have experience, find someone’s who does. I cannot physically stress how important it is to have people helping you out because it a crazy process, and frankly, how are you to know otherwise?
- And the iffy one…the price tag. Keep your head, and do not, I repeat, do not let your emotions have control of the purse strings, so to speak. I don’t care if that house makes you feel wonderful, because you can renovate and alter any house to make you feel a certain way. Is it worth an extra 200k? Probably not. Let’s be rational. I’m completely irrational in general, so if I’m honest, I had about zero input into the price bargaining process. Again, I don’t know where I’d be without Corey.
- Lastly, keep in mind that a lot of the house can be changed for little cost. Yes, by all means, walk away if the house is full of crumbling asbestos, but if the paint colour is wrong, or the carpet is dirty, or the bathroom sink needs replacing, just let it happen. For example, one house we looked at had a bathroom with no storage and a tiny face-sized mirror balancing on the sink. I instantly shut it down (my skincare routine needs respect am I right), but later discovered that you can literally buy an entire mirrored bathroom cupboard and install it (if you’re handy) for under $100. Put that into perspective when you’re spending hundreds of thousands and it doesn’t seem like such a big deal, right? Don’t let the little things phase you. I personally enjoyed seeing things that needed replacing, because even though it will take a little while to get it done, when we do get it done, it will be 100% our style and something we will be proud of because we did that.