We originally didn’t plan on looking for a house until the end of the year after we had saved more money up, but with the threat of our lease ending and the landlord giving us no intention to renew, we thought we’d better start looking. The original plan was to sign another 12 month lease and then look towards the end of the year, but at our last inspection 3 separate appraisers came through the property and our property agent was quite frank. Our landlord was going through a messy divorce and wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Having been evicted from our last place due to the indecisiveness of our landlord (also he was lazy, didn’t do the maintenance we requested, and was ripping us off), we decided to try and get ahead and start looking.
The property market in Melbourne is absolutely insane. Property is definitely overvalued, but the sad thing is that people are willing to pay those amounts. Most places we saw the agents were like “Oh, that’s just the advertised price but in this market you really want to add 10% to that for the vendor to even consider your offer”. Well then why don’t you advertise it at that price + then? The sad thing was that what they were telling us was true. We’d track auctions and private sales and in most instances the sold price was more than 10% of the asking price. One place we looked at was advertised at 520+ and eventually sold for 575. Another place we looked at was advertised at 410+ and sold for 482. It was a frustrating and infuriating process. Add to that the constant calling from agents of places we weren’t interested in, and agents not returning calls of the places we were interested in, it was enough to go insane.
We knew nothing about property. We only knew what we were looking for, something in the (outer) Eastern suburbs, at least 3 bedroom, preferably a house (no body corp), within our budget, gas cooking (or potential to put gas in), preferably brick, access to public transport, and a few other miscellaneous things. It’s really hard to find something that suits and I didn’t think our criteria was too excessive. We were looking at between 5-10 properties a weekend. It was exhausting, especially when we’d turn up for an inspection and the property was already sold and no one bothered to tell us, one guy double parked us in and was a real jerk about moving his van, some places were real dumps but you couldn’t tell from the heavily touched up photos online, and most were asking too much for what they were.
After a few months of looking (not very long in terms of searching for a house by the way. Some friends have been looking for years), we decided to put an offer in on this place. That in itself was another headache. I always thought there were two ways to buy, auction or private sale by negotiation. This was was sale by tender (or ‘sell by set date’ is what our agent called it), which was basically like a silent auction. Yay, more stress as we had to research what that actually meant. So we put in an offer and waited, during which time we were called several times by our agent “Are you sure that’s your final offer? Don’t you want to increase the price? You never know what the other offers are, so you want to put in your best price.” Yes, that’s what we want to pay and stick with and I already think it’s a very generous offer so go away you vultures! Yes, I dislike real estate agents very much if you couldn’t tell already.
So after all the headaches and the stress and doubting (did we offer too much? What if we don’t get it? I’m tired of looking at crap place after crap place), we ended up getting it. And then began a new lot of headaches of organising the building and pest inspection before the cooling off period ended (by the way Victoria, 3 business days to cool off when you’ve just bought a property that cost almost 1/2 million dollars is pretty crap), finding a conveyancer (how exactly do you know how to pick a ‘good’ one?), organising finance (we had pre approval but it was still a headache to get things moving and finalised), and had to get the 10% deposit together to pay the real estate agent (which I discovered later I couldn’t do a direct transfer at a bank branch, and instead had to call the call centre of the bank using the bank phone and increase the transfer limit and do it online instead. What exactly is the point of having branches if you can’t even do a simple transaction? Argh!).
Anyway, after all that I’m pretty happy with it. We’ve learned a lot from this experience, and hopefully won’t have to do it again any time soon. It was a scary process, not really knowing and not being about to find out how everything actually worked. It’s not a perfect house. It probably needs a bit of work, but there are lots of things I love about it, and hopefully this will be our home for a long time to come. No more paying rent, no more dealing with annoying property managers and dodgy landlords, no more putting up with really ugly curtains and wall colours. Best of all, the husband is looking forward to putting holes in the walls where ever he wants! Now we just have to be patient and wait until settlement…