One of the things I love about my job is getting to know some truly inspirational people. Like Clare, who has just celebrated her one year anniversary in her first home. Congrats Clare!
As a single woman in her early thirties, Clare (like a lot of people her age) thought that owning a home was out of reach. But she was determined to achieve her dream and 12 months ago proudly announced to her two fur babies – Buster and Jessa – that she’d bought them a home!
I thought it was a great opportunity to chat to Clare and find out what advice she had for other first home buyers.
Clare, can you start by telling us what prompted you to get in contact with a broker?
I think like a lot of people the idea of paying so much in rent and that all going to someone else was a big reason why I wanted to buy my own place. I was also fortunate to receive some money that I wanted to put towards my future and I thought buying a home would be a good investment.
You were referred to me by one of my best friends. She told me you were the best in the business! She actually said: “Give her a call and she’ll be at your place within the week” – and she was right! We both agreed that you were really approachable and that you focus on getting the absolute best solution for your clients.
Had you been to other brokers before?
Only one, and the experience was horrible. They were really salesy and just kept hammering me to try and get my business.
I’d also had personal loans, which I got through the bank, but I never want to go direct again. It’s so impersonal, you’re literally just a number to them. What makes you different is that you wanted to hear my story, you weren’t pushy at all.
I remember you recommended I pay down my debt first, before taking out a loan. So that’s what I did and it was about a year and a half between when we first talked and when I came back to apply.
What was the house hunting experience like?
Well, I got 90 days’ notice from the rental property I was in, so from getting the finance arranged I really only had 3 weeks to find a place and settle!
I think at last count I looked at 84 different places! I wasn’t worried about where, I just knew I wanted to find a place with three bedrooms and a yard for the dogs.
I stumbled across the perfect place about a week out from getting the letter (of approval) from the bank. Because of the timing, it got sold and I missed out. So I went to see 2 more places and was prepared to go ahead with either of those. Then I got a phone call from the real estate agent that was looking after the place I had missed out on. She said that the sale had fallen through and wanted to know if I was still interested. I had the letter from the bank then but the agent needed me to make a decision asap. It was the perfect house – nothing else had come close! Dad said 'throw everything at it' because he knew it was exactly what I wanted. So we put an offer in, then had to up it again because there was another bidder, but in the end, my offer was accepted and I got the house!
What lessons did you learn through the buying process?
When you go to look at a potential house, don’t look at the wall colours, the floors, the furniture – a lot of people get put off by that. But they’re all things that you can change.
When I bought my place, I knew I wanted to do some things to make it my own. I gave myself a year to get through my list – floors, painting, the garden. And I’ve actually pretty much ticked all of them off the list.
Another important thing is to make sure that you don’t over-extend yourself with your mortgage. You really helped me to think about my budget and what I could realistically afford. I remember I was keen to borrow more, but you explained all the other expenses that I would have and made sure I could still afford to live my life.
Owning a home can be really financially stressful when you get to the end of the day. There’s all these other expenses – strata, water, rates – that you just don’t see when you’re a renter. You need to factor all those things into your budget, not just the mortgage repayments.
So a year later, how are things going?
I still love it and Buster and Jessa love it too. They love the neighbourhood. And like I said, I had set myself the goal of having a year in the property to get all the little upgrades done, which has really made it feel like home. When you pull everything out of a house it’s a blank slate, so some of the things you might have thought were ‘must haves’ are things that you can do yourself. But it does become a bit addictive - I’m constantly at Bunnings and IKEA!
Thank you for sharing your story with us Clare and for your kind words.
If you want to find out what options you have available to help you achieve your home dreams, give me a call today.