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Houses [Nov. 15th, 2009|07:21 pm]
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]

As many of you are aware, we rent in Canberra at the moment, mainly because houses prices are insane. We've kept our eyes on the market and prices have come down somewhat, to the point where they are now nearing a level where we might be able to buy here.

Hopefully once the first homebuyer's grant has gone bye-byes, prices will settle down a bit. As is fairly common knowledge, when the grant was introduced, and increased, prices jumped up by a margin significantly larger than the grant. We're not expecting prices to drop by the same amounts they went up by, but hey, even a drop of $10K makes life that bit easier.

So, we're waiting around to see what prices are doing by the middle of next year. Oh if before then the perfect house pops up at a price that won't have us dreading when interest rates have inevitably increased by another three percent, we'll certainly go for it, but in the meantime we're just keeping an eye on the market, investigating the occasional place, etc.

The big issue is, of course, that we have four people who need housing, and we hope to have a fifth one at some point. We're not after a mansion, a decent sized three bedroom place would suit us. The problem is, at our upper limit, which is a smidge under $400K, it's rare to find decent sized houses. What we tend to find is three bedroom dogboxes, with no insulation, in need of work.

Occasionally a gem pops up, but they are rare, and by gee you have to be fast to even get a look in. One thing that gives us an advantage is that we don't care about ensuites, air conditioning, and all that other stuff that some people seem to feel they can't live without. But even then, it's really hard to find a worthwhile house.

So we've been looking at the other options.

Forty-five mintues from Civic is Captain's Flat. It's a small town of 550 people. It's also tantalisingly affordable. How affordable?

We can get the sort of three bedroom place we'd be happy to settle for in Canberra for close to $400K, for around $225K at Captain's Flat. At the other end of the scale, for $370K we could have four bedrooms, three bathrooms, garage with an extra room on top, and a national park literally at the back fence. For $420K we currently get four bedrooms, space for three cars, solar power(!), oh and 185 acres, a 150 of which is native bush.

Okay, we don't want or need three bathrooms, and neither do we need space for three cars, though if we moved out there we'd probably buy a second car as Sharon's work car. But y'know, a fourth bedroom would be handy. And of course I'd hate having natural bush on our property or at the back door.

Then there's also the option of buying land and building something that suits us. There's some quite reasonably priced blocks both in the town itself, and just outside it. Okay, building is a hassle on all sorts of levels, but it does give one the option of contructing a place that's eco-friendly from the start, rather than having to adapt an existing house.

At the same time, we really like living in Canberra itself. We have friends here. We like the feel of Canberra, the bike paths, and of course living in Canberra puts Sharon closer to her work.

But then again, shazgirl is the one who started looking at Goulburn as an option, which is even further away than Captain's Flat. People working in Canberra are starting to look at Goulburn for houses because it's affordable. I don't know if they've done the math on the costs of fuel and basic car maintenance with a daily 200km return trip and factored that in to the equations, but it's becoming common.

I'd prefer to stay here, I genuinely like Canberra, but I love the idea of Captain's Flat, too. Semi-rural, the possibility of natural bushland on or very near our property, and let's face it, it'd be really nice to have a mortgage that is at a reasonable level so we can afford to do the things we like to do - like eat.

So that's where we're at. Waiting, watching prices, and considering going bush if Canberra wants to be stupid about prices.

As always, we welcome the input and experience of our friends and loved ones.

[User Picture]From: purrdence
2009-11-15 08:35 am (UTC)
One of the reasons Drhoz and I ended up building is that we considered buying existing housing, found a lot overpriced and what was in our price range would have meant we would have had to have renovations done at some point. That would bump the overall cost up in the end.

Building from scratch meant we got the house we wanted from the begining, more or less. Admittedly, it limited potential places to live a bit (as we had to go where the land was), but we were incredibly lucky and got a decent size and location.

But we're also not planning on moving.. oh.. ever, ever again.


Is there not a train near Captain's Flat? What's the schools like?

Of course, you *could* move to Perth, but the houses here are even more expensive...
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 09:21 am (UTC)
Yeah, a chunk of the houses in Canberra would require at least money spent on insulation, not to mention any other jobs that needed it. At least if we buy in Captain's Flat, we'd have the spare cash to get work done.

Last train for Captain's flat ran in 1968. There's the tiny local primary school, and a bigger school a bit further away.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2009-11-15 11:43 am (UTC)
Bugger about the lack of train. :( Small primary school could be a good thing (thinking more individual attention).

You say 200 km round trip, but time-wise what would that mean? If it's 100 km/h most of the way, that wouldn't put it more than a hour's drive and I can think of lots of places that you have to commute for an hour and you're still in the metro area.

Y'know, if you got the place with the room over the garage, you could set up your base for world domination...

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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 10:30 pm (UTC)
My thinking on the school is the same. My main thoughts on the 200km round trip is actually the expense of fuel and maintenance of a vehicle that's doing nearly 50,000 kms a year. If you're moving somewhere to save money, that expense needs to be factored in, otherwise you may be dealing with a false economy.

I've already got my semi-underground lair, so I'm well on my way to world domination.
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[User Picture]From: stephbg
2009-11-15 08:36 am (UTC)
Don't forget to include tanks, pumps, hoses, sprinklers and other sundry firefighting gear in the budget.

Fun though it is to make you go woof...
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 09:22 am (UTC)
Thansk for the reminder. I had already been looking at whether there'd need to be land cleared around any houses.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-15 09:00 am (UTC)
Sonia simply flat-out can not afford to buy a house at the moment, and given the rising prices and the fact I seem to only work contract to contract with poor job security, I doubt that we ever will.

We can't even buy an apartment because Sonia wouldn't be able to handle the stairs, and she needs lots of quiet during the day to sleep that you usually don't get with neighbours sharing walls and floors/ceiling.

C'est la vie.
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-15 09:01 am (UTC)
Sonia and I can not afford to... blah, blah.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 09:25 am (UTC)
Guessed you meant both of you.

I thought the place you were in was yours. Bugger!

I always get annoyed when the papers start saying prices will raise by 20% in the next couple of years. How?! Seriously, how would people be able to pay that much when so few can barely afford housing now?
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[User Picture]From: angriest
2009-11-15 09:29 am (UTC)
Well if they already own a house, then they've got the assets there to sell and buy upwards, as it were. If they don't already own a house, basically they're screwed.

I don't actively resent not owning my own home, but I do get very testy when people start lecturing me that I should buy a home, as if I'm not aware of the advantages, have never looked into it and am simply too dumb to buy one.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 09:46 am (UTC)
And while it's all very well to say to someone, "You should own your own home," with current prices, unless they are going to offer to give you the money, they should drink a big can of Shut-the-fuck-up!

We've got over $100K deposit, Sharon's on a good wage, and we've been looking since we moved here. Yes there's some we missed out on, and yes, maybe we could have looked harder, but realistically if we can't afford a place when we're starting out in such a good position, how are other people supposed to? Especially if they're already renting, given that rents are ridiculous as well.

The main reason we haven't bought is that the current prices create an unnacceptably high risk to our finances. We know our budget, and we look at how much we have to borrow, look at the current interest rate, then add 3%, because sooner or later it'll go up. And I'm sorry, but if we're paying $400K for a house, it shouldn't be a 'renovator's delight' and need another $40K spent on it to make it liveable.

Skullfuck that for a joke!
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-16 02:55 am (UTC)

Re: Equity

At the moment our rent is still less than most mortgages and we'e saving roughly $15-20K a year, so in that regard, we don't feel a great need to hurry. That said, it'd be nice to be in our own place where we can drill into walls and put up shelves, etc.

Not sure if it is a growth area, though with people buying even further out and working in Canberra, it probably is or has that potential.

Would also have to factor in the running costs of buying another car. We'd almost certainly want a second vehicle because if something goes wrong with the Belwood, Shaz has no way to get to work. Actually with Captain's Flat prices, we could probably buy her a new car with much better fuel efficiency. We don't have electric cars capable of 200km round trips yet, do we?
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[User Picture]From: wolflullaby
2009-11-16 06:41 am (UTC)
Wowee... I'm feeling incredibly lucky right now. Scott and I managed to get a nice 3x1 (powered workshop, bore, ducted evap aircon, nice garden etc) for $315,000. We got in just before they stopped doing the 100% loan, so we got it with zero deposit.

I think it was fairly cheap because it is in Gosnells, which has a fair amount of dodginess. We are lucky in that the street we live on is very quiet, and we've had no problems at all.

*sends positive house buying vibes in your direction*
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[User Picture]From: bugs_jenny
2009-11-15 10:00 am (UTC)
This is exactly how we ended up moving to Toodyay, which is 45 minutes from Perth (well 1 hr from Perth central, 45 minsutes from Midland). We've loved it! Sometimes the drive drags on Peter a bit, but then you get home & you're in a nice country town & it's worth it. Plus, it takes me no longer to get to work than people in the Northern Suburbs of Perth coming down the Freeway, and my drive is a lot more pleasant :-)
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 10:44 am (UTC)
We're planning an exploratory trip to Captain's Flat in the not too distant future. May as well check out the town and local area before we get too excited.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 10:43 am (UTC)
You can always figure out how much time I'm managing to put into LJ by how often I post - the less I post, the less I'm reading :)

Yeah, the banks wanted to loan us more as well. But we know the balance between what we can afford, and what we can afford before it starts to really hurt our quality of life.

We're surviving perfectly well in a house with no aircon. Most nights get reasonably cool so you open the windows, cool the house, shut everything before it gets too warm the next day, and open them again when the temperatures inside and outside equalise. We have heating, but that's a needed in Canberra. We have an ensuite, but that just happened to be in the house we decided to rent.

There's four of us, mum has some crap, and I have a lot of crap (that's slowly getting sorted and gotten rid of), plus books, DVDs and stock, so a larger place, or a place with storage is helpful. But beyond that...
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From: fred_mouse
2009-11-15 12:59 pm (UTC)
how would I clean it
I find a bigger house easier to clean. but that might be because we moved from a three bedroom 'cottage' (where bedroom 3 was the library/study/spare room/junk room) to a 4+study, and there are five of us. Now I can access pretty much everything without having to move something, so I'm not always making a mess just to get something out of a cupboard...

yes, there are more floors, but that takes such a little chunk out of my cleaning budget (kitchen and laundry between them probably take 80%)
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From: tillianion
2009-11-15 09:28 pm (UTC)
Queanbeyan can tend to be much cheaper than Canberra, and also closer to Civic than most of Canberra. Worth checking out.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2009-11-15 10:31 pm (UTC)
So far we've found it to be a little cheaper, but not that much. But we do keep our eyes on it.
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