A young couple who’s owned more than 50 open houses in two years has revealed exactly what they’ve done to pay for their first home.
For Danielle Davis and her partner Chris, buying a home was about so much more than making an investment – it was about “having a place to call home”.
“My partner and I both left home when we were very young. We never really had stability growing up, or really anything to call home,” Danielle explained.
“So now that we have a house – somewhere that we know we won’t have to move in 12 months, or ask permission to put up a picture – it’s a huge, huge thing for us.
“It’s important for us as an investment, but it’s definitely more important for our mental health.”
Getting a foot in the door in the real estate market is one of the biggest challenges for young Aussies. That’s why news.com.au shares success stories from real first home buyers who reveal exactly how they did it. If you managed to get your foot in the door, share your story with firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s that sentimentality that might explain why the Melbourne couple never gave up on searching for their first home, despite visiting more than 50 open houses over the course of about two years, eventually finding their three-bedroom Bacchus Marsh home unseen. bought. The couple even sacrificed their marriage and Danielle made a complete life change – retraining and a different career in order to save their down payment.
“We never gave up. It was really very difficult. But half of our lives we’ve always been tenants,” says Danielle. “We never knew what we were going to do when the lease expired, so we were pretty obsessed with buying a house.
“It was just something we knew we needed to make our lives more stable.”
Danielle and Chris watched the real estate market for about two years before saving enough of a down payment to buy themselves a home. At the time, house prices skyrocketed and everything they were looking for quickly became out of reach.
“The longer it took us to save, the more house prices skyrocketed. It was all during Covid too, so it was obvious that everything was going up,” Danielle explained.
“In the beginning, we could afford where we wanted – really nice new homes, or really well-renovated homes. With three or four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a backyard. The longer it lasted, the less there was.”
While the pair looked around Melbourne’s inner western suburbs, where Danielle had lived all her life, the price hike of recent years drove them all the way out of Melbourne and eventually ended up in Bacchus Marsh, about 31 miles northwest of the city.
“There wasn’t much we could afford towards the end, nothing that suited what we wanted and what our needs were,” Danielle said.
Even then, saving for a down payment required a sacrifice and even a whole career change.
“I completely changed careers,” Danielle said. “I’ve worked in retail for most of my life, but we couldn’t afford a house on that kind of pay. So I moved out of the house for 10 months, to the other side of town to get some police training.”
In addition to the career change, the couple made other life changes specifically to save their down payment. They chose to live in share houses and avoid replacing broken furniture, even postponing their wedding.
“We’ve been engaged for two years now, but we haven’t even thought about a wedding yet,” explains Danielle. “Putting our money into the house is more important to us.”
Even with the lifestyle cuts, Danielle still acknowledges that a house deposit probably wouldn’t have been possible if she and her partner hadn’t saved together.
“We lived as much as possible on one wage,” she says. “I don’t think I would have been able to save (the deposit) if I hadn’t been in a couple. Certainly not this house.
“Without the first home buyers on the scene for a five percent down payment, we wouldn’t have been able to afford it either.”
Now that they have their home, neither Danielle nor her partner have any regrets. But they were surprised by how difficult it had been to find a suitable home in their price range.
“We had to lower our standards a little bit,” she said. “The house is great, we absolutely love it, but there are a few things that we need to fix – which we took into account before we bought it.”
The very unique (and hopefully never repeated) circumstances of trying to buy a house during the lockdown also taught the couple to make friends with the right people, because you never know when you might need extra help.
“When we got our first home deposit, we only had three months to use it and we locked everything up,” explains Danielle.
“Nobody was able to have open houses and nobody was in the market – so I think it really helped us make as many friends as possible with the agents. We wouldn’t have heard of our place if we didn’t done.
“We didn’t even get to inspect it before buying it, which was crazy.”
Faced with the recent announcements of rising interest rates, Danielle says they are also very happy that they have chosen to lock in their interest rate for the next five years.
“Hopefully it has calmed down after that. I know interest rates will be higher, but hopefully not the 10 and 15 percent that people have said. We’ll have to wait.
“We’re not too worried about the future.”
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