Search for a family home



My property search diary from Location Location Location Australia Season 3 | Episode 3 – Search for a family home in Camden

When you might need a flexible budget.

Naz and Julian had advised me that they preferred to spend under $1M (totally understandable!) but would be prepared to stretch to $1.1M for something that was perfect.  Then they told me that they could afford more but weren’t prepared to spend any more money buying in Camden since they were concerned about long term capital growth in the area.

Now that is a completely valid reason for wanting to limit your spend. The only issue I had with that was that since their requirements were so specific, they really needed to extend any parameters that they could in order to cast a really wide net. The issue for them is that they didn’t want a project home, yet the vast majority in the area are project homes.  They wanted to be close to town but they also wanted acreage.

So much of their brief seemed like a contradiction in terms – and almost impossible to achieve without compromise somewhere. So to restrict their upper limit could easily mean that if the rare property that actually matched their brief came on the market but was outside their self imposed budget, it would fly under the radar. Say a really great property sold for $1.15M, for arguments sake, they wouldn’t even have inspected it!

Most property briefs need some massaging and this is because it is common that buyers need to compromise on something in order to buy a home.  It usually boils down to house or location but their search was different.  They thought they were prepared to compromise on the house by being open to renovation.  However they weren’t really compromising because character was their number one criteria, followed by space (both inside and outside). And when it comes to location they were even more specific: 15 minutes out of Camden was too much! Character homes in their chosen location are rare, unfortunately, and Naz spared nobody in her criticism of some lovely houses!

There is always something a buyer needs to compromise on.

So the one thing left to compromise on was budget. My argument here is certainly not that they have to increase their budget. Rather I wanted to make sure that they were looking at absolutely everything that comes on to the market that could possibly suit them that they could afford. Since they were looking for a needle in a haystack, they would surely kick themselves if that “needle” was only slightly beyond their self imposed budget.

I have often seen buyers who decide on their budget because of what they would like to spend rather than how much they need to spend in order to get what they want. So they don’t look at more expensive properties until some months have passed.  In that time prices could have increased, or the perfect property could have sold to someone else. In some real estate markets, time is money. The longer it takes to find a property, the more it will cost.

Now, I am not suggesting that buyers only look at the very top end of what they can afford, rather that they look at the whole range – from bottom to top of budget. Often it is not finding the right property that is the difficult thing in a property search, rather being able to recognize the right one when you see it. So, another reason for looking at a wider range is that buyers can come to conclusions about what they are prepared to compromise on a lot faster than if they narrow their focus. 

In the end, Julian & Naz did compromise. The house they bought was a project home, in fact it even had those dreaded terracotta colour tile floors and low ceilings that Naz decried so loudly in some of the homes we showed them. And the land wasn’t completely level either. But it was very close to Camden and they liked the street and the outlook. They were able to get to the point where they chose location over house. But they will never know if there actually was something out there that gave them some “architectural interest” on acreage within spitting distance of Camden, because they didn’t completely exhaust all their search parameters.