Downsizing your house? We did and what did we learn?

Ever considered downsizing your house?

We sold our family home in October last year after about 6 weeks of preparation time. After we finished repainting (over 1/2 of the external house and windows – once you start where do you finish), replacing (guttering, downpipes etc..), gardening (cutting down trees, laying new turf and planting) and then clearing out the crap (a few skips and trips to the tip) we didn’t want to sell – the house never looked so good. We were buggered and relieved when it sold – also a little sad.

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Then came the process of looking for the perfect “townhouse” for the perfect “price”. One good decision was to rent for 12 months because it took us 8 months to find our new home. It’s this process of finding the new home I wanted to comment on for the unsuspecting downsizer.

We determined our perfect home would still have 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and now a 2 car garage. The main bedroom must be on the ground floor just in case we found it hard to climb stairs in about 20 years. From those must have’s there were nice extra’s (central heating and cooling, a court-yard for a BBQ were some of those). Determining this list is a must first step – even before the suburb.

Here is some data that might be useful in understanding the long drawn out process. We looked at least 200 properties online – thank god for realestate.com. We inspected 57 properties over 13 different suburbs with each inspection taking about 1 hr which includes travel time. Yes that’s 57 hours.

For those in Melbourne the list of suburbs in alphabetical order and number of inspections are: Asburton (8), Ashwood (3), Balwyn (3), North Balwyn (9), Box Hill South (1), Camberwell (10), Carneige (1), Glen Iris (5), Hawthorn East (3), Kew / East Kew (9), Malvern (4) and Surrey Hills (1).

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What did we learn?

  • determine your must have’s in a property (this can take a number of inspections before you finally determine the list).
  • use an online platform for your first search (and to contact agents for legal papers and indications of price).
  • have google maps or some other form of directional finder on your phone or iPad – it makes it easier and saves time and eases frustrations.
  • do you homework on prices – we looked each week over several months on auctioned properties determine a low (margin), medium (ideal) and high price (less than ideal). Based on your homework determine your range you are prepared to pay – and stick to it (non-emotional). We were outbid on 5 properties – not even getting a bid in on 3 properties. We saw  properties go well into the high price range some getting 58% over the initial price being quoted (I did a rant on Facebook before I wrote a letter to the manager of that real estate company for massively underquoting the property and wasting our time). Be prepared for somewhere between 15 and 30% over the initial price. Remember it’s not want the banks will lend you it’s what you can afford to want to pay back per fortnight.
  • do your homework on other costs and issues (e.g body corporate, neighbours, distance to public transport and coffee shops (schools if that is an issue for you) and distance to work for all those living in the house. If you can get a property built within 7 years you still have a builders warranty.
  • Finally you will want to buy or refurbish some items for the new property so clear out your rubbish (and that can be a long process with trips to the tip and skips), sell what you can on eBay or other such online services and enjoy.

Thank god for technology, an understanding family and wife and the time to make this happen. To those thinking about this I hope this post has been mildly helpful.

Images of the new home:

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