That’s the house. At last we have found THE HOUSE.
Now to make an offer.
And that’s when the questions start popping up.
The price is from XXX.
How much more should we offer?
We only have a certain budget.
Do we go all out and offer all we can?
Do we keep a bit back a bit in reserve and see if a lower offer is accepted?
Is there somebody else about to make a bid that will slam us out of the negotiation park and we are back at the start, looking for another house?
We compromised. Made what we considered a good offer and waited to see what happened.
Even though we knew it was a good bid, that didn’t stop the butterflies in the stomach.
Especially as the offer was based on the sale of our old house.
A couple of hours later the sellers’ agent Catherine, of E’lan Property Agents, phoned us..
The offer was accepted.
But not quite.
The acceptance was dependent on the sellers not receiving a better offer before we sold our place. And the sellers would have the house on the market throughout that time.
That meant if they received a better bid at any time, we were out of the game unless we could match or better it.
This certainly did nothing to ease our stress levels.
Our offer was accepted on a Wednesday morning.
With that threat of another buyer trumping us, we knew we had to work fast.
My wife Corinna has known Madeleine for quite a number of years so as soon as our offer was accepted, Corinna called her, told her what was happening and that we needed to sell as quickly as possible.
Talk about quick. Madeleine and her son Justin, also an agent for Madeleine Hicks Real Estate, were at our place a couple of hours later.
After a thorough checkout of our old house, we were told one important fact: The house were had lived in for so long wasn’t ours any more.
It belonged to whoever bought it and we had to make sure it was attractive and ready for them.
That meant opening up our lounge room, storing some of our chairs into our already full garage and making a number of other changes we hadn’t considered.
We also discovered a few other items we needed to look into.
Did we have a pool fence certificate?
Well we’d better get one soon, very soon.
Did we have a current building and pest control report?
Ahhh, not really. The one we had was quite old.
Not to worry. The potential buyers will probably get their own but it would be good to have one so as not to be surprised by any unexpected problems.
Did we have a lawyer we wanted to use?
Not a problem, Madeleine knew a company she had faith in.
Well, if they were good enough for her, they were certainly good enough for us.
We then agreed on how the house would be marketed ( Good old Real Estate.com) when they photographer would come to take the pictures for the adds and that the first open day would on the Saturday.
That gave us two days of frantic cleaning and preparation to get the house ready for the first viewing.
Despite two young dogs, who believed they owned the house, we had to keep the place pristine because we never knew when a potential buyer might want to look at the place afterwards.
And so the cycle started.
At first we were confident the house would be sold quickly.
Other houses in the street had sold within a couple of weeks.
There were two issues we had not considered. They did not seem relevant.
The first issue was the completion of the banking royal commission, which released a report less than complimentary of a number of bank operations, just a few weeks before we put our house on the market.
What we didn’t know was the banks had tightened their lending requirements after that report.
The second was a federal election had just been called.
These two issues froze the market and houses were not selling – anywhere.
Full of hope we had our first open day.
Lots of interest but no firm offers.
Corinna was flat out, organising a pool fence inspection, keeping Catherine informed of progress so she could keep her clients up to date, handling the little curve balls thrown up by the lawyers, keeping the house immaculate and keeping in close contact with Madeleine.
To obtain a pool fence certificate, we had to cut back some tree branches and raise the rotary hoist clothes line until it was sufficiently clear of the fence then lock it there so it could no be raised or lowered.
Nor problem. That is apart from one little thing. It hadn’t been raised or lowered for years and the crank had frozen solid.
That meant pulling the rotary hoist apart, manually raising it and the putting it back together again.
That took two days of hard work. The neighbours heard a lot of very descriptive language that must have burned their ears. To make the job perfect, it drizzled rain until I finally finished then stopped.
And so the weeks went past. Open day after open day. Some open houses on weekends, some in the evenings during the week. Each time we had to leave for a couple of hours and return after the opening. This did create a certain amount of disruption to our lives. Each open house was tingled with hope followed by disappointment. Lots of interest, some people coming back at odd times for a second visit, but no firm offers.
To make matters worse, we knew the sellers of the house we wanted were also having open houses and we were in constant dread of a phone call telling us that they had received a better offer.
No pressure then.
Madeleine did tell us that no houses were selling but the worry was still there.
Eventually, she advised us to drop the price. We did.
Corinna also contacted Catherine asking if the sellers could also drop their price because the housing market was stalled.
We extended our contract for the new house about three times as the weeks rolled by.
Then finally a reasonable offer we gladly accepted.
That offer was subject to a building inspection.
The report stunned us.
Initial reading indicated we were living in a dangerous dump on the verge of collapse, riddled with termites, dry rot and structural failures.
However, closer reading revealed there was one piece of timber in the eves suffering from dry rot that our handyman easily fixed. The rest was: there was no termites but there was a potential for them in the future. A small crack in the brickwork had the potential to become worse, maybe, sometime in the future. The report was full of possibles and potentials but actually admitted there was very little wrong at all with the place.
The buyers used the report to pull out of the contract.
Back to gloom and worry. Our hopes were dashed. Corinna told Catherine the bad news and we were back to open houses during the week and weekends.
Fighting to keep the house immaculate, leaving with the pets at odd times while strangers wandered through the place. Always with the question in the back of our minds: Would we find a buyer before the owners of the house we wanted received a better offer then the one we made?
Then the good news. A couple liked our house and put in a good offer.
Would we accept it?
Again the offer was subject to a building inspection.
This report said the house was sound with no termite problems.
The buyers liked it and things were looking good.
However, fate still had one last card to play.
We had been fighting water seeping into a corner of the rumpus room when it rained.
After spending about $800, we thought it had been fixed.
But then it stormed about a week before the contract went unconditional.
And water seeped into the corner of the room as bad as ever.
We could not let that go unfixed so we made a desperate call to Liam of LJM Plumbing, a friend of ours.
He came over had a look and found the trouble.
So no half measures. The plumbers rushed in. Liam knew there was a deadline. The whole area was dug out. The wall to the rumpus room was sealed and waterproofed and drains were installed to carry the water away from the side of the house. No cheap but worth it. There is no way any water can get in now and the work was finished a couple days before the contracts were finalised
Finally the news we had been waiting for so long. The offer had become unconditional and a date set for settlement.
Our old house would soon belong to somebody else and we would be moving on at long last.
Without the massive amount of work, advice, help and encouragement from Madeleine, Justin and Catherine, this would never have become possible and we owe them out deepest thanks.
Read Part 1 How we bought a house by Dennis Connors