The Seven Stages of House Buying – Jac & Tom’s Journey

Every now and then, Perspective comes across a story that’s just crying out to be told, and today is one of those times.

The story of local home buyers Jac and Tom is one of ups, downs and ultimate triumph over the wily beast that is the Canberra property market in 2015. But before they could vanquish this worthy adversary, they had to undertake a journey of epic proportions.

This is the story of their home-buying odyssey, what they learnt along the way and their advice to those who may be about to enter the crazy world of agents, gavels and suburban streets. The journey was long, and at times hard, but worth it in the end.

Stage 1: Excitement

At first, they were enthusiastically looking for a particular sort of place to live. It had to be in the “inner, inner north”, preferably a townhouse or duplex and it had to be already renovated, brand new or off the plan. “We didn’t want to renovate. Absolutely not. It’s my worst nightmare”, Jac says.

Stage 2: Repeated Failure Through Various Avenues

Here’s a question: If Jac and Tom spend one and a half years looking for a property to buy, go to 5 or 6 auctions, put an offer in on an off-the-plan property in a new development and get an offer from a private seller on a property up the road from one of the aforementioned auctions, how many properties do Jac and Tom have? Zero. Jac and Tom have zero properties.

Back to the drawing board.

Stage 3: Re-Assessment and Compromise

After starting out with a specific type of property in mind, failing to win at auctions and rejecting several properties because the prices seemed a little insane, Jac and Tom were starting to realise that they would need to change tack. Luckily, their experience so far had taught them a lot about the state of the market.

They started branching out and looking at different options. “We were going to live in Campbell. I never wanted to live in Campbell, but I was going to!”, says Jac. “The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that I don’t know what I want – I didn’t know what I wanted.”

Stage 4: Getting Help

Jac also stresses the importance of getting professional help. She says it’s important to have “someone you trust, who understands the industry”.

Jac and Tom had an agent from Independent Property Group bid for them twice, which Jac says helped take away the emotional attachment that leads to over-bidding. “It was really nice to have [the agent] along for that journey”, she says.

Stage 5: Staying Strong

After all the ups and downs, Jac and Tom have learnt that it’s important to keep your head up and keep trying. And it’s even more important to stand your ground. “Don’t get disheartened”, Jac says.

She says that at times during the journey she felt like she never wanted to talk about property again. “I was getting a bit upset”, she laughs. “But you have to be a bit more aggressive and make things happen for yourself. And you have to be on Allhomes every day.”

She also says to be mindful of people trying to create an auction between buyers. “Everything’s just becoming an auction campaign when it’s not”, she says.

Stage 6: Acceptance

After reassessing the market and defining what properties were really worth at the time, Jac and Tom were better placed so that when a suitable property did become available, they were ready to pounce.

“We made an offer the first day it was on the market, negotiated and made sure we got it”, Jac says. “I know people who are still going. They’ve been looking for two years, and it’s because they’re so specific.”

Stage 7: Triumph

After one and a half long and tiring years, Jac and Tom finally found the property. The price was right, it was only a couple of streets away from where they already lived… and it required renovating.

The Moral of the Story

So what have we learnt from Jac and Tom’s journey? We’d sum it up in three simple points:

  1. Know the market
  2. Seek the help of a professional
  3. Have an open mind

We also asked Jac what she’d do differently if she had to do it all again. She offers this advice: “I’d visit 10 different properties that were going for auction. I’d see what people were paying and ask myself if I need to readjust what I’m looking for”, she says. “Eventually it will happen, but you’ll just change what you’re going to buy.”

But for now, she and Tom are off in reno-land, on the hunt for the perfect paint chip. We have a feeling this story isn’t over yet…

Image credit:



Subscribe to receive articles like this delivered to your inbox every fortnight