Last year Mum published The trouble with selling property in the UK at the end of a stressful few months negotiating and completing the sale of our London home. Nearly nine months later I finally feel ready to talk about property again!
Thankfully, the story of our Australian property purchase is much lighter – we entered the Australian property market the easy way.
The dreaded auction
Most readers will know that it’s common to buy and sell property in Australia via auction. In Sydney, property typically opens for inspection during the month or weeks before the auction date, and the auction often takes place on-site.
When we first arrived in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, a property opposite our rental home was sold at auction. We witnessed the event wide-eyed and incredulous – the public auction was stressful for simple bystanders, never mind the people who actually wanted the property!
When you buy property at auction, you register your intention to bid with the real estate agent and receive a bidding number. All bids are recorded and the person with the highest bid, when the hammer goes down, gets the property.
When you buy property at auction in Australia there is no cooling off period. As soon as the hammer is down, you exchange contracts. Your finances need to be in order because you pay a 10% deposit on the day of the auction and complete on the sale within six weeks (often much quicker).
Having witnessed our first property auction in Sydney, the thought that one day we might go through this process made Mum nervous. It was a great relief that we avoided the dreaded auction, and a load of additional stress, by buying our rental property.
When we arrived in Aus we stayed in temporary accommodation for six weeks before moving into our long term rental property. The property wasn’t perfect but it ticked many boxes; above all the location was perfect for our Australian dream. Nearly three years after moving in we were given the opportunity to buy the property and despite a few hurdles decided to give it a shot.
The first hurdle was selling our UK property in time to meet deadlines set in Aus. The stress we went through to achieve this was immense. Selling property at a distance is not something we want to do again, or would recommend to others.
Another hurdle was the fact that both Mum and Mr Mum’s gone 2 Aus were in new jobs at the time of seeking a home loan…not ideal, but not a problem for The Home Loan Experts (who happen to be regular advertisers on Mum’s gone 2 Aus). The Home Loan Experts website offers a wealth of information if you’re looking for a home loan in Australia, you can also read their Ten essential tips for foreign nationals buying property in Australia published a few years ago at Mum’s gone 2 Aus.
The final weeks before we exchanged contracts in Australia were particularly nerve wracking. We struggled to get our UK buyer to commit to an exchange and completion date, and were running out of excuses with our Australian landlord, who was by this time was in a hurry to sell and couldn’t understand what was taking so long in the UK (we saw his point).
When we finally had a date for completion in the UK we needed to get our money to Australia as quickly as possible….not a problem for TorFx (who happen to be a Mum’s gone 2 Aus Partner, are you spotting a pattern yet?).
Get our money to Aus, and fast!
Before completing on the UK sale we contacted TorFx to understand the process and paperwork required to transfer money to Aus. Our account manager quickly sent us all the information we needed.
To comply with money laundering laws TorFx contacted our UK solicitor to confirm their involvement in our property sale; that done, they provided details of their UK holding account for us to give to the solicitor, and we provided them with details of our Australian bank account.
On the day our UK sale completed, our solicitor sent funds to TorFx. The next day TorFx sent funds on to us. The funds cleared in our Australian bank account within 24 hours (it can take up to 48 hours). After the months of stress, negotiations, and jumping through hoops, getting our money to Aus seemed too easy, but we weren’t complaining.
Inspection, valuation and conveyancing
Because we already lived in the property we purchased we knew exactly what we were buying – leaking roof and mouldy walls included. However, we still needed to complete some standard property buying steps.
We got a pre-purchase building inspection (called a building survey in the UK), and our bank sent someone to complete a valuation. In fact, we had already paid for an independent valuation because we wanted to make sure we could afford the property before putting our London home on the market. Thankfully the figures matched up.
The final piece in the puzzle was finding a Conveyancer or Solicitor; we had a recommendation from a friend and were amazed by how simple the process was and what little work we had to do.
Our conveyancer emailed a list of points we needed to understand from our contract of sale, including a list of actions for us. We used a Justice of the Peace (JP) to certify proofs of ID and witness signatures, but this wasn’t complicated.
Reading through old emails with UK solicitors and estate agents, it’s hard to believe that the sale of our UK property took an excruciating four months. In stark contrast, once that property was sold, it took two weeks for us to become the proud owners of our home here.
Buying a home in Australia has been a significant milestone in our relocation journey. The past three – four years have had their challenges, and it was a relief to have a home buying experience that was easier than normal.
Because we bought our rental property it’s hard to know how much that influenced our easy property buying process, and how much the efficiency of the Australian system aided this positive experience. Have you recently purchased a property in Australia? How was the process for you? How did the experience here differ to the process back home? We’d love to hear your stories. Thank you.
- Opening a bank account in Australia – which bank and when to open your account
- Australian relocation dilemmas: How long should you stay in short term accommodation?
- Settled In: Home and relocation services Tasmania
- The ABC of Australian Schooling: Essential ebook for children going to school in Australia
- Mum’s bookstore: Get to know Australia: society, culture, history and more
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