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
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
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….