Buying a house: things to avoid

Ok, so hubby and I have been trying to buy a house. We found a great Queenslander in our chosen suburb, in good condition and basically untouched, with lovely bones and a big backyard. We made an offer (we thought a pretty low offer) and it was accepted. Argh! It was an ambit claim! And we thought we had no chance. So then we went on the hunt for a home loan. There the snags began. We talked to my bank because they have my history, and would be able to see the money going into my account over time. I’m considering that this was not necessarily the best decision. Here is a checklist of things to do BEFORE bidding on your dream home:

  1. Ensure your financial affairs are in order. We had a terrible job doing our tax and my company Profit/Loss statements so that we’d have the right information for them in the time needed for the “subject to financial approval” clause. We feel for our poor accountant. On the plus side, both of us are due to have big returns this year. Getting an accountant to do one’s tax is much better than doing it oneself.
  2. Have a decent credit rating. When I moved house, I missed a Gas bill. It was put on my credit history as a bad debt: all $224 of it. I didn’t know this and spent a fair whack of time thinking my poor credit rating was for something much bigger. Well, I paid it off as soon as I finally found out, didn’t I?!
  3. Have your deposit ready. My family is gifting me some money, but they had not put the money in my account prior to the bank application. Apparently the bank needs what they call “asset accountability”: in other words, to have the money in the bank. My poor folks have had to hop to it to get the money to me by the due date: this is SO silly.
  4. Get pre-approval from your bank BEFORE deciding to buy a house…
  5. Have a full time job. Don’t be a student on a stipend or earning a small income doing other things. Don’t own a company or be self-employed. And for goodness’ sake don’t think that just because you pay $600 per week in rent that you can afford to meet mortgage payments of a similar amount over 25 years. Don’t think that. The bank sure doesn’t.

This is the ongoing saga of our house hunt. And I am going a little bit mad because of it. Sleep: an overrated activity.

The continuing saga…a day later…

It occurs to me that banks, with their many many years of experience in handling loans, might have a better way of organising them. Everything feels so retrograde. Why not tell us at the beginning of the process that we need to provide this, and this, and this, and this, which we could have done WEEKS ago, instead of ringing us every few days saying: by the way, could we please now have this piece of paper? Well, if you’d only asked a few weeks ago, we wouldn’t now be on tenterhooks waiting to hear whether we beat the “subject to financial approval clause” because you FORGOT to tell us what else to provide. Sheesh! On the plus side, we now have cautious approval. NOT unconditional, but it’s close. When we sign and seal the deal, will be when I celebrate, I reckon. Give me the freaking keys already! And for those of you in the US, our house, at a cool $500000 odd, is not a grand affair. It is a comfortable, elegant but untouched Queenslander in good nick, but which needs lots of work. So there. Urgh. Let this week be over, let there be contracts signed.

Saturday, a day later….

Well, we got it. The bank decided in its ineffable wisdom, that we were the types of people deserving of money for a home loan. I am still not sleeping very well, but boy am I feeling happier! We have been sent the unconditional approval letter, and we are on the road to signing papers next week, and settlement in two weeks. Wow. In the end, it all went very fast, and now I am panicking about getting the floors sanded and the house stumps replaced and the plumbers in and termite blasting before we move in four weeks. So there is a check list to complete for all of the next part of the journey. This check list will probably cost us a lot of money we don’t have. This is not really the fun part. But the thought of being able to choose where to hang one’s pictures goes a long way to feeling good about our move.



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