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Auction Season in Melbourne

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Ah, September in Melbourne.  The days are getting longer and warmer.  Blossoms and leaves are returning to trees.  The Tesselaar Tulip Festival is starting soon.  Footy has finished the regular season and the finals will begin shortly (Go Swans!) And then there's that other Australian phenomenon… Auction season! 


Now I've been living in Australia for nearly 13 years, and while I think I've adopted the Melbourne way of life to some extent, purchasing property here is one thing that I really can't wrap my head around.  And when I tell family and friends back home about the auction system here, they can't really believe it.  I'm not sure there is anywhere else where the straightforward task of buying a house is anything but. 


For the uninitiated, buying a house here can be hard/frustrating/laughable/terrifying.  For starters, many houses are sold at auction, which means that agents set a date to hold a public auction in the street.  They give an initial price range, and then they quickly delete the price and change it to POA.  Then on auction day, interested buyers and neighbours having a sticky beak (peek) gather in front of the house.  Potential buyers raise their hands to make bids.  Once the house hits the vendor's reserve, it is declared on the market and will sell to the highest bidder.  However, if that reserve is not reached then the house is passed in and the highest bidder has first dibs on negotiating a sale.  Phew. 


Enter the frustrating bit.  Agents are not meant to under quote prices to gather more interest, but inevitably some do, or they underestimate the deep pockets of buyers desperate to secure their house.  People are still amazed when a house sells at auction for tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, more than the advertised price range.  However, after living in Melbourne for so long the only thing surprising about that is that anyone finds it surprising at all! 


My Australian husband and I recently decided to make ourselves more permanent here, and we bought a house in the eastern suburbs.  Since we are not property experts, and with two preschoolers, our capacity to spend weekends going to inspections and auctions is limited.  So we outsourced the task to a buyer's agency a friend had recommended.  We gave them a general idea of where we wanted to live and a budget, and they bought our house in 13 days and came in tens of thousands UNDER budget.  I still can't believe it happened and we own a piece of Melbourne.  But of course now comes the truly hard bit… we are demolishing our tiny new/old house to make way for my American style home here in Melbourne.  You know the saying, you can take the girl out of America, but you can't take the America out of the girl….  Mudroom, anyone? 

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