Finding our “Forever” Home

Hobart HousesLooking for our next, “forever” home in Tasmania is becoming an exercise in frustration. There are plenty of houses for sale but there are four criteria boxes we need to place a tick in before we buy. We have ticked up to three boxes for some properties but the elusive fourth has remained empty or has a large X in it.

These are our four criteria:-

  1. Land – size, aspect, gradient, bush/pasture.
  2. Location – geographical position, community, amenities, commute distance to the city.
  3. House – age, size, materials, style and the question of “is it going to be warm enough in winter?”
  4. Price – value for money and what else might need to be spent on it.

We discover the perfect house in deep (fire risk) bush or perched atop a wet and windy mountain with an impossibly steep driveway or a gorgeous block of undulating pasture with water views marred by a dreadful house with a huge price tag fit only for demolition.

And we also have to factor in to the buy price the gouging government “stamp duty” – a sliding scale of up to 4% of purchase price which you gift to the state coffers when you sign the contract.

But our biggest frustration is with the real estate agents who want to know in great detail what you are looking for and what you have to spend – and get a gleam in their eye when they discover that you have cash in the bank and are ready to buy when you find “The One” – but rarely follow up.

Recently I contacted an agent about a listing and mentioned I would really like a house with double glazing and solar panels for power. He referred me to another listed property which had both but didn’t mention either feature in the description.

Agent omissions are bad enough but the bare-faced “porky pies” are worse. But we have to remember, they are commission-remunerated sales people who don’t earn if they don’t sell. When they do sell a property, the agency charges the vendor around 3% of the sale price. So with the buyer paying stamp duty and the seller paying agency fees, a whole lot of money goes out of the transaction to fund the need/greed of others.

There are two other things to remember when buying real estate here in Tasmania. There is no “cooling off” period once a contract is signed by both parties and there are, apparently, no disclosure laws in Tasmania. If a house has a “horrible history” then the vendor and the agent are not obliged to tell a would-be purchaser about it.

We had hoped that the Tasmanian real estate industry was different (better?) to that on the mainland but so far, we have been very disappointed. Maybe agents do all come from the same mould throughout Australia.

So, we are treading carefully, taking our time, consulting widely, seeking input from neutral professionals and hope that we will find our next home before we become far more jaded and cynical about both the real estate industry and the buying process.

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