By Kim Beaumont
So you’ve bought a new house and turns out it’s the wrong one. In fact, turns out you’re not very in love with it at all. Sounds like a ridiculous and unlikely scenario doesn’t it? Regardless, it’s one I found myself in recently. And after googling “I hate the house I bought” it seems I am not alone. There was many a discussion thread of people telling terrible tales of buying a house and realising soon after it was not the home they wanted.
My realisation came before I even signed the contract. But I have a habit of proceeding with things without really thinking about it until it’s too late. A not so fabulous personal trait I’ve realised about myself. You can spend months, even years, looking for a house to buy and then actually buy in in a matter of minutes. So after searching so hard, how do you get it so wrong?
Buying at auction – I can speak from personal experience about this one. Most houses go to auction and although some houses do get passed in and clearance rates fluctuate throughout the year, many buyers need to be prepared to buy at auction, or they don’t buy.
Auctions can be fraught with danger. It is an ‘on the spot decision’ where you can be competing against many other bidders and the situation has done just that – created a competition whereby the bidder needs to win. This can lead to paying too much for a house or buying house you didn’t really want, you just wanted to win the auction. Sounds crazy but when buyers (aka ME) have been ‘losing out’ at previous auctions, they can get caught up in the need to just ‘buy the house’ especially when they are in with a real chance of winning.
Over it – the waiting game can be very tiresome. With on average 150 homes coming on the market each week during Spring, you would think that there would be many opportunities for you to find the one. But finding the right one can be hard as it may not actually exist. As each house is different you need to re-evaluate each one, what you are prepared to accept and the circumstances of each situation.
Dream vs Reality – there are many a reality TV show now with a property flavour. From The Block to Love it or List It, these shows have given us all an insight into all aspects of the property market. It can leave many of us thinking we can easily buy the worst house in the best street and fix it up (in a matter of weeks) and happily live there forever or easily fix it and move onto the next one. However in reality the ‘Grand Design’ does come at a cost, and takes time. Both of which you may never have enough of to get your house the home you want it to be.
So what to do if you’ve bought a lemon? Well it may not be as easy as making some lemonade and getting the kids to sit out the front and sell it to the neighbours to recoup your costs. It’s not like its a $50 skirt that doesn’t fit and you can just take it back. Or a book you started to read and it’s not really grabbing your attention so you put it back on the shelf to give to Vinnie’s or pass onto a friend one day down the track. This is a house. A major investment both financially and emotionally. This is where you live much of your life. And in my case it’s not just where I live and my life, it’s that of my two small children too. So what to do, what to do???
Sit in it and suck it up – you’ve made your bed, now lie in it. Yes, always a good one and one which is most unhelpful I always find. Normally the advice a mother would give. But sometimes mum does know best and doing nothing is the best option. One of two things will happen. You may find that you don’t hate it that much after all. Once all your possessions are moved in and you’ve sussed out what the best local takeaway options are, you may find yourself feeling more comfortable lying in that bed. If not, sit tight for a while and move on. The market should not have changed that much and if anything (and depending on where you have bought) you may break even or make a little bit without having lifted a finger after 12 months or so.
Flip it – you can be the reality TV show here and be a ‘house flipper’. Which means you do a fairly cosmetic renovation and on-sell it. Even the cost of buying and selling can be offset with the profit made, especially if you have bought in a sought after area. The tricks to flipping are renovating as quickly and as cheaply as possible. Focus on bathrooms and kitchens as they sell houses, don’t look to extend, stay within the footprint of the house and DIY as much as you can.
Renovate it – This is where you can turn your reality into the dream. If that house is just not doing it for you then make it what you want. See an architect or draftsman for a design that enables you to get what you want from a house. Obviously in order to get your money back on a significant renovation you would need to stay there for some time. But if it’s now become more of the house you wanted, there shouldn’t be too much problem in doing that – so sit back, enjoy the dream house and when you are ready to move again you will have made a tidy profit.
So what do I plan to do. Well… I am falling somewhere between flipping and renovating. But regardless of what I do, I need to make it a home in the meantime. And next time round, I’ll be sure to get it right, hopefully!
–Kim Beaumont is a blogger, mum and renovator in Canberra. Follow her on Instagram.