We’re serious romantics here at Perspective. Nothing gives us goosebumps as much as good ol’ Boy meets House. Or Girl meets House. In fact, anytime someone wants to tell us the story of their first home purchase, we cancel all meetings and settle ourselves in with popcorn (although the powers that be have not yet approved the much-asked-for popcorn machine).
This week we caught up with first home buyer, Gabby, who’s story came with its own little twist, and we felt we had to share it. This time, Sister and Sister meet house. Yep, while some people can’t wait for a little space from their siblings, these two have committed to the foreseeable future of clothes swapping, shared meal times and a shared mortgage.
Today they shared how they did it.
We received a hot tip that you and your sister are very young first-home buyers. Is that true?
Yes, I guess so. I’m 23 and my sister, Maddy is 21. We just bought a new townhouse together, off-the-plan.
Kudos to you for taking the plunge at your age! What made you decide to buy now?
Thanks! Yeah, I guess it is a bit unusual. But we’re both working – I’m in human resources, and Maddy is in hospitality. We’d talked about saving to buy a place together for a long time. We don’t want to live at home anymore, but we don’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage either. So buying a place together just made sense.
So why did you decide to go the off-the-plan route?
Buying off-the-plan is much more affordable than buying an existing house, and I’m a big fan of buying something new. If you buy an older house you might pay $20-30,000 on renovations before even moving in.
How long did it take you to get the deposit together?
It wasn’t as hard as we thought. We had a bit saved, and then we realised how affordable it could be to buy off-the-plan. We only needed to put down 5% of the purchase price as a deposit. 5% is not really that much, so I saved for about 6 months. People don’t really understand how affordable it can be, compared to paying rent. We’re still saving now, right up until the completion date at the end of the year. So we’re still earning interest while we wait.
Tell us about the finance process. Was it hard to find a loan?
I went off a recommendation from someone at work. We’re in pre-approval now, then finance will be approved 3 months before the building completion. We got a quote from a building society, but we also have the time to shop around before the final approval date. We don’t have to even pay the lawyer until settlement. Our deposit is still earning interest in the bank for now and we won’t have to pay as much back later.
I think the biggest surprise was that we needed conveyancing. I work in recruitment, so we got a recommendation from a client for that too. That was helpful, to have a network of people who have recently bought, whether off-the-plan or some other kind of property purchase.
Why did you and your sister choose the Laurana Terraces development?
We’re living in our family home in Belconnen at the moment and we didn’t want to buy too far away. Laurana Terraces is within a few kilometres, and was one of the first options we looked at, because there was a display property by the same builder just around the corner. That was a bit easier to understand than just plans and renderings. It gave us an idea of what we would actually be buying.
Some of the properties we looked at didn’t include things like blinds, or washers and dryers. This one has a lot of inclusions, including a full bathroom and ensuite which is great for two girls sharing. We get one each! It seems like the rooms at Laurana Terraces are a lot bigger than some other places nearby, too.
What about the area – do you think it will be a good spot to live in?
We wanted to buy somewhere close to work in the city but also close to family, and some of the new developments are too far out. This one is close to our family and really central to things like shopping. Our family are into cycling and there’s a racing track nearby and bike paths all around, so we don’t have to ride an hour to work in the morning.
And do you think you’ll live there together long term, or sell and buy another property later?
We think we’ll stay there together for a few years, or until we have our own families. It’s a great area, right opposite a school. New shops, a gym, and medical centre are all being built. As far as location, it’s really good. Down the track, we might rent it out or sell, since it’s a great area for families. We chose a 3 bedroom townhouse so it would suit a family with kids, too.
We’ll probably keep this as an investment, but I think I’d buy new, off-the-plan, every time. I don’t have the time on weekends to rip up floors or do renovations on an older house. This gives flexibility for the future as well. We could rent out this townhouse, but buy another one down the road later. So my sister and I could still be neighbours!
How are you handling the waiting process until your house is completed?
It’s difficult. The building has gone up very quickly, but we’re excited and we want it to be finished. Last December it looked like nothing, just dirt everywhere. But now it looks like a proper building. We try to limit visits to about once a month, so there are lots of changes in between phases. Now there are windows and everything – almost a complete house from a concrete slab in just three months!
We’d be frustrated if construction went into next year, but hopefully we’ll be in by Christmas. If we’d bought somewhere else, they might not have even started building yet.
How did your agent help with the whole process?
We have a really good relationship with our agent. A colleague at work had used him, and she’d just bought off-plan, too. He helped us through the whole process, he was there for all our questions but he wasn’t pushy, which we really liked. It wasn’t any ‘hard sell’ on anything we didn’t want. He could refer us to other properties though. Basically he helped us through the whole process, and it’s been easy and painless.
So there you have it, a first-hand take on buying property off-the-plan. It’s a feel-good story that shows it is very achievable to save up a deposit and invest at a young age with the right attitude and a healthy dose of determination. If Gabby’s positive outlook on the future is anything to go by, it sounds like we could be hearing more of siblings leaving the nest together.