Thanks for joining me again on this continuation of my series entitled Our First Place which is about the journey my husband and I went on in purchasing our very first home in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia.
I apologize again, like I do at the start of every post for the long gap between new posts on this page.
Again, I put it down to a very demanding family life but I appreciate you bearing with me and listening to my story.
In this post I relate the experiences we had once we finally found the house we wanted to buy and what happened when we placed our offer to buy it.
I reflect with amusement at the point at which we actually made an offer on this house and had it accepted.
I can best describe it as a bizarre mixture of exhilaration and buyer’s remorse.
I remember thinking “Yay! We’re buying a house!” and then “Oh God, what have we done?”
The seller’s real estate agent had made us aware of a few other offers that had come in but which had been declined by the seller.
He also told us of an offer that was initially accepted but where the potential buyer’s finance had fallen through.
He then gave us the minimum amount the seller was willing to accept for the house.
At the time I had no reason to doubt the agent or his insistence on the seller’s minimum price but as time went on I often wondered if this was merely a selling tactic to get the most for his client as possible.
You learn early that very few people in the process are on your side when you’re the buyer.
The seller has their agent whose best interest it is to get as much as they can for the product they’re selling.
As a buyer you’re often left to wander the woods on your own.
It helps if you have family or friends who can hold your hand through the journey.
You can hire professional buyer’s agents to help negotiate the price of a property down for you but these come with their own costs and you really have to decide if the savings they achieve for you outweigh the fees they come with.
My husband and I were left pretty much to our own devices, armed with as much research on the subject of buying houses as we could gather from books and the internet.
There weren’t many properties on the market in the neighbourhood we wanted.
The house we took interest in was in better condition than most we’d seen in the area and in neighbouring suburbs. It had undergone some recent renovation but was priced much higher than most of the properties being sold in what is still seen as a developing neighbourhood.
Going through past sales brought up many houses sold for far less but in much worse shape too.
It was hard to determine if the price for this house was too high given that there wasn’t much to compare it with.
In the end we agreed to offer the minimum the seller was willing to accept, which was still over our initial budget. We took into account the location, proximity to schools, amenities, transport links and plans for future infrastructure improvements and decided it was worth it.
Going through the contract of sale and signing on the dotted line with the agent was daunting.
Stupidly I’d forgotten to get a copy of the contract to send to our conveyancer so while the clock was ticking on our 10 day “cooling off” period, our conveyancer was left twiddling her thumbs waiting for the document to come through for almost 2 days.
Speaking of conveyancers, we had called a couple of them before we actually saw this house and in the end thought that they all seemed very similar by way of pricing and services offered.
We learned the hard way that not all conveyancers are the same despite similarities in pricing schedules.
After making our offer to the sellers and having it accepted we suddenly realised that we needed to decide on a conveyancer asap and in our haste we decided on one that was recommended by a friend.
It was a mistake.
I didn’t feel that our conveyancer had our best interests at heart and I often had to chase up responses to my emails and follow up phone messages days later. Not ideal during a cooling off period of just 10 days and when time is of the essence.
As a first timer you want to know that your legal representative has your back, is willing to explain the finer details of the contract and negotiate the terms of the sale in a way that benefits you.
There were certain aspects of the property and its condition, following our building and pest inspections that I felt warranted a negotiation of the price with the sellers but our conveyancer was reluctant to convey them and had an attitude of “you’re buying the property as is”.
The impression I got was, if we didn’t like the property or the terms of the sale then we should just walk away from the transaction rather than try to negotiate on price.
Maybe she was right? As a first time home buyer I honestly didn’t know what to expect from her.
I had however believed that as our legal representative, who we were paying over $2000 in fees for we’d be getting a little more support?
In hindsight, it would have been far better to have spoken to several different conveyancers and settled on one we were comfortable with well before beginning our house hunt.
If we ever try this again it will be one of the first things I do before even going to an open home.
In the end, we had committed ourselves to this house and this purchase when we decided to make our offer.
Not even the seller’s unwillingness to negotiate or our conveyancer’s indifference was likely to deter us.
The defects in the property weren’t taken into consideration by the sellers and the price didn’t change.
Fortunately none of these defects were major so we still went ahead with the purchase.
I suspect much of this transaction was ruled by the heart.
We fell in love with this house the moment we saw it and were determined to make it our new family home.
Our journey was far from over though.
After the cooling off period is usually a 6 week waiting period before settlement day when we as new owners take possession of the property.
Unfortunately for us our waiting period was fraught with some unexpected surprises but I’ll go into more detail in my next post.
I learned a number of different lessons here about being prepared and asserting my expectations.
I hope you stay tuned for my next post which I will explain in more detail the final stages of our journey from preparing to move to finally taking possession of our new home.
Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll see you again soon!
- Lady V