Buying a property in Melbourne
I lived in Sydney for a year, the time when my husband and I have come to realise that renting is a total waste of money. We’re both good with money so within a few months we were able to pool our savings together and saved up even more. What we have is decent, but not the amount politicians launder. In short, it was enough to get us out of the renting market and onto the property ladder.
After a significant time spent on research, we realised that the amount we had wasn’t enough if we wanted to carry on living in Sydney. The iconic city was not just not friendly to first-time buyers like us. With our hard-earned money, we could only afford to 2-bedroom unit in a suburb that didn’t make my heart sing. We knew then that putting our savings in a unit kilometers away from the CBD was a move we would regret for the rest of our lives.
So, we moved to Melbourne. It’s the most livable city in the world, but surprisingly, properties are not as expensive as in Sydney.
Looking for a house in Melbourne has not been a walk in the park. Yes, properties are cheaper, but buying isn’t as straightforward as we would like it to be. Finding a property to buy, and negotiating with the buyer is not common in Melbourne. In Melbourne, people join auctions. This means that that luck needs to be factored in when purchasing a house. We’ve seen houses that we thought we would be willing to pay for more, but didn’t go for much. Other places seemed like a no-go for us, but someone was willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money. It’s quite an enigma, really, but after over six months of inspecting and attending auctions, I’ve started to understand more, and I’m keen to share them.
1. Know what you want.
Like with everything else in life, you need to zero in on what you want to buy, what you want to live in for a good number of years. Do you want to buy a 1-bedroom unit in the CBD or a 3-bedroom house in the suburbs? They might cost the same, so it’s best to know what you really want. Think of how it would affect your life. Is the commute to work going to destroy you? Will moving to your dream place mean loosening ties with friends and family? Will you need to downsize to be able to live comfortably? List some pros and cons to living in your ideal home. List some negotiables and non-negotiables. And then, decide.
2. Attend auctions.
It may seem dull, especially if you’re joining the auction, but there is a lot of merit in observing the auction proceedings. By attending, you pick up strategies (Yes, I’ve learnt that you don’t have to counter with $5000 a pop; You can just counter with a $1,000.), know how much the market is willing to pay for a property that ticks a lot of boxes for you, understand real estate lingo such as pass in, reserved price, etc., and observe the people who could potentially be your competitors for the next property or even neighbors.
3. Save, save, save.
I don’t think I can stress this enough. You may have at least 20% of the total amount of the property, but you may not have enough to cover the other expenses associated with buying and moving into your new home. Just to give you an idea, once you find the house you’ve fallen-in-love with or a house with a lot of potential if you’re into renovating, you’ll have to get Section 32 checked by a conveyancer or solicitor. Also, it would be wise to have the property inspected for all sorts of building defects and existence of good ol’ pests. It would be advisable to check older houses for asbestos, as it poses health risks when inhaled. Now, these expenses wouldn’t break the bank if you only needed to pay for these once. However, what if you don’t win the auction? Then, you need to do it all over again for the next property, still not knowing if you’ll get lucky the next time. Then, once you finally win, you may need to organise a removalist to help you with the physical movement.
4. Know the area you’re buying in.
If you go to realestate.com or domain.com and type in your criteria, chances are you’ll find a handful of properties in Melbourne. However, make sure that you’re familiar with the area. Go for a drive on a Monday morning, a Friday evening and a Saturday and check the atmosphere. What’s the traffic like? Is the area serviced well by public transport? I’m not a big fan of buses, so there has to be a train or a tram in the area, or I’m not living there. Is there a Coles, Woolworths or Aldi? Is there a corner shop in the absence of these? Are there banks, shops, cafes, or establishments? Do the people around seem similar to you and possess similar interests to yours? Are there some planned developments in the area? Are there trucks parked on the road? Are there people walking around, with their dogs or better yet, with their kids? Keep in mind that no suburb is perfect. You just need to put everything in perspective, so you won’t easily be turned off if you see shattered bottles of beer on a footpath.
5. Don’t give up.
We’ve already been looking for six months, but this included weeks of uncertainty, of moving from buying a unit in the area we’re renting now, to finally realising that only a 2 or 3-bedroom townhouse or villa with a bit of outdoors would make us happy. It is a frustrating process because there are so many factors to consider and a lot of expenses are incurred along the way. Stay focused on your goal. Don’t settle for something that will haunt you days after. Don’t take short-cuts as this might cost you more in the long run. You are about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. Make sure whatever you end up buying is worth every cent or more.
More house-hunting stories and tips to come. To those on the same road as us, happy house-hunting! 🙂
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