Househunting: Australia and the UK Compared

MagazineAs those of you who have read my post Moving House in Australia will know, I have recently moved house. That, of course, involves finding a house that you want to buy and also selling your existing house. It’s been a quite exhausting couple of months, decorating my old house and setting up the new one. It’s the reason I’ve been a little quiet on this blog lately.

I have been adding some post though, as well as writing articles for Australia and New Zealand magazine. My previous article for them was called Australian Roadsigns: A Collection, which also included an update on selling my old house. So if you’ve read that article and the previous one linked above, you would think you were up to date with my house moving antics, wouldn’t you?

Not quite.

I’ve written three more articles about the buying and selling houses thing for the magazine; here’s the first which appeared in their January edition.

House hunting part 1

house hunting pt1There are several noticeable differences when buying a house in Australia compared with in the UK. Firstly, what people want from an Australian house is very different from the most common requirements in the UK. The way houses are valued here in Australia is much more challenging for both buyer and seller.

Viewing houses in Australia is also completely different to the British experience. Probably the biggest difference though is the way houses are purchased, the legal process here in Australia. So here’s a brief and slightly tongue in cheek guide which will hopefully give you some idea about the sought after features in Australia and how valuations are done. Then in part 2 next month, we’ll look at viewing and ultimately buying a house in Australia.

Firstly, it would be a good idea to forget everything you ever wanted from a home in England when house shopping in Australia. I’ve just had a bit of fun googling ‘the top 10 most wanted property features’ for both countries, here’s what I discovered. 8 out of 10 on the UK tick list were indoor features, many of them about keeping warm or entertained.

Brits want central heating, secure windows and doors, double glazing, fast broadband, a landline phone, bath, cooker and a good mobile signal. On the other hand, 8 out of 10 of the Australian top features were outdoors items or about keeping cool.

Ducted unitAussies want air-conditioning, a garden, solar panels, a deck or a pagoda, swimming pool, a built-in barbecue, a water feature and garden gnomes. The garden gnomes thing might well be Aussie dry humour, but I think these lists speak for themselves. Aussies spend a lot of time entertaining in the garden, you know, chucking prawns on the barbie, and Brits do not.

One more thing; the very popular ‘south facing garden’ that the British favour is not too popular in these parts. Due to very complicated issues involving both the northern and the southern hemispheres, the sun, the moon, gravity and the angle of the earth, Australians tend to prefer a north facing garden.

Valuations of houses are much more difficult to do here in Australia, simply because in many areas no two houses are the same.

In the UK it is quite common to see rows and rows of houses all on the same size plot of land and built with the same design.

UK Housing (1)

UK Housing (3)As a result, valuing them is easy; they are all worth about same with the only variation being the decor.

Here in Australia it’s more common for people to buy a plot of land, choose a builder, choose one of the plans offered by that builder or even have a house purposely designed. So even on new estates, every house can be completely different.

Australian houses

Australian housesOften, when valuing a house, a real estate agent will walk around it for 30 minutes, not take a single measurement or any notes, and at the end of it suggest a selling price.

Do they always get it right? I doubt it.

I suspect some undervalue homes so they can sell them fast and therefore earn a quick commission. Others may overvalue a house in order to persuade the seller to go with them instead of another agent. A case of both buyer AND seller beware.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Jake Chilcott April 9, 2017, 10:10 pm |

    Hey Bob are houses in Australia built of a high quality?

    • BobinOz April 10, 2017, 8:36 pm |

      Some are, some aren’t, you get what you pay for, just like anywhere else I suspect. I’m no builder, but most of the houses I’ve seen or or owned have seemed to be pretty solid to me.

      On the other hand, I heard recently about a seven-year old cheaper kind of house that was being sold on was deemed to require about $30,000-$40,000 worth of underpinning by the building and pest report.

  • Mark April 6, 2017, 10:08 pm |

    An amusing but practical read as ever. Not sure where you dug up that picture of a back street somewhere in Lancashire. A great advert for moving to the suburbs of Australia. Such a difference…I am reminded of one of my early visits to UK from USA as a child. I am told I was about 6 and with my Dad driving through an area of Manchester form the airport apparently I asked “How come all the houses are stuck together”?

    • BobinOz April 7, 2017, 7:59 pm |

      Well, actually the picture does have a story to it, and it’s Yorkshire, so you were close. In 2011 Mrs Bob and my daughter Elizabeth went back to England, for some crazy reason they thought it was a good idea for a holiday.

      Me, I stayed in Oz.

      I asked Elizabeth to take lots of photographs for me of anything and everything English, because I knew the pictures would come in handy. They went to Yorkshire and she took pictures for me and they did come in handy.

      Anyway, how come all the houses are stuck together? 🙂

  • Laura April 6, 2017, 9:11 am |

    Great article Bob, very useful and informative. Me and my family land in Brisbane in one week with our PR visa! We also are looking forward to living in a house with a pool and aren’t bothered about double glazing 🙂

    • BobinOz April 6, 2017, 8:55 pm |

      Thanks Laura, glad you liked it. Yes, double glazing is pretty much extinct here in Brisbane, as are conservatories. Nobody here has a conservatory, it would be like sitting in an oven.

      Hope your move goes well, Bob

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