Some of you will recall that I wrote a couple of articles about buying a house in Australia for Australia and New Zealand magazine recently. The first one was called Househunting: Australia and the UK Compared and the follow-up titled Buying an Australian House; Housing Chain? What Housing Chain?
Of course, usually if you buy a house, and you already have a house, then you probably need to sell a house as well. Yes, that’s what we had to do, and I wrote about that for the magazine as well, it appeared in their June edition.
Selling a house in Australia
In recent magazine articles I’ve talked a couple of times about the process of buying a house in Australia. At the time we were house hunting. As I explained back then, Australia does not do housing chains. So the decision is do you find a house to buy first and then put your own on the market? Or should you sell your own house first and then go shopping for your new home?
Both have risks, but we decided to find our new house first before selling ours. We didn’t like the idea of maybe not finding a suitable replacement home before the contract went through and then becoming homeless. Having to find a rental or temporary accommodation didn’t appeal either.
As luck would have it, when we did find a house we wanted to buy, the sellers were happy to sign an extended contract of 90 days. They needed the extra time to find their new house. We were happy with a longer contract because we needed to sell our old one. Additionally, we organised a bridging loan as a backup in case we didn’t sell in time.
So how did that work out for us?
Well, firstly, we had a bit of work to do to prepare our house for sale. Decluttering, decorating, cleaning and tidying, all in preparation for those open days. I mentioned open days in one of those previous articles; they are great fun when you’re visiting somebody else’s house to have a nose. When the ball is on the other foot though, they are a nightmare.
Every Saturday morning we would get up earlier than normal to spend an hour or so preparing the house; vacuuming, dusting and clearing all work surfaces and tables. The idea being to make the house appear as though it is fully functional without anything being on show that’s normally required to make that happen.
For example, the rubbish bin would need to be removed from the kitchen; rubbish bins do not sell houses. The shoe rack, conveniently located at the front door, would be expelled to the garage.
Every remote for every gadget needed to be tidied up and stored away. These items would be replaced by the real estate agent with such essentials as dried flowers, scented candles and a bowl of fresh fruit.
Our final task would be to grab the dog, scoop up the cat and remove ourselves from our own house. We’d then go and have a 40 minute cup of tea with a friend round the corner and wait for a text message from the realtor. ‘Sorry, no one came today, better luck next week.’
Fortunately for us, that only happened once, and we only had to have six open days in all. Our house sold after 52 days on the market, not bad considering that included the quiet Christmas and New Year periods.
Our contract completed on the sale just 10 days after we moved into our new house, so we didn’t have that scary bridging loan for too long. All in all, the process worked well for us. Much better than the laborious chain building we remember from buying and selling a house in the UK.
Australia seems to have the edge on this one.