Real life story – Darielle Ben-David

What triggered you needing to upgrade your home

In one word – Kids! I owned and lived in a townhouse in a hot spot of café culture that I adored. But once we had a baby, I realised how completely impractical it was to have children in that house. So we began searching for a bigger house with more space and a more child friendly location.

What was your experience – and therefore recommendations (e.g. do’s vs. don’ts vs. top tips) for the following –

Selling your existing home process

Selling your existing home can be a stressful period because there are so many unknowns in the market. We had excellent agents who kept us informed throughout the process and kept our expectations at bay. My advice is do some research on who will be selling your house, and make sure you’re comfortable with them, have a good rapport
and ask lots of questions.

Getting the house into good shape to sell can also be quite taxing. Our real estate agents suggested investing a small amount on things like a paint job, new blinds, a de-clutter and professional stylists that really helped make the house ‘pop’ to prospective buyers. But, there’s a challenge, as you don’t want to overspend on these unless you’re certain you’ll get the return. (i.e. don’t spend $1 to get back 50c).

We also moved out the house for the entire selling process (we were fortunate to go to family) so we didn’t have to keep it immaculately clean for every inspection.

Buying your new home process, including getting a home loan

Buying a house is also a trying and often disheartening experience as you can go to multiple inspections, and bid on multiple properties that you become emotionally invested in, but at the end of the day – there is only one winner.

When looking, its good to be clear on your ‘not negotiable’ priorities and things you are willing to compromise on (i.e. if you are set on a certain location, you may have to look at a smaller house – or vice versa).

Also, consider how much you will need (if any) to make renovations on the prospective house and factor in how much that will cost in addition to the home loan (often not a small amount!).

Lending is also much harder than it used to be. Getting credit was a challenge and we had to make some financial changes to existing structures to get the loan. The bank looked at an overall picture of your finances rather than just giving us a lump sum for a house. It is best to do these numbers before committing to buying a house, to make sure
it will be sustainable.

What do you wish you knew beforehand and/or top tips for individuals looking to buy or upgrade their homes?

Whether to buy or sell first is a hard one.

We were looking to buy for a while, and eventually found something we loved and bought it. But this put a huge amount of pressure to sell.

Conversely, if we had sold first – we would have been pressed to buy, so it’s a tough one – what comes first – the chicken or the egg? Unfortunately, I don’t have a good tip on how to combat that – but I think it is important to buy and sell in roughly the same market.

Number one top tip is talk to your lender and bank BEFORE making any decisions. We had an excellent financial lender who guided us through the process and explained us all the scenarios (including worst case) so we had a good idea of the financial position we would be in.

Questions like – ‘what if we lose our job, what if we have another baby, what if one of us gets sick and cant work for a while’ all came into discussion. These weren’t ‘fun’ conversations but I’m glad we had them before we made the big leap, to give us peace of mind when we finally did buy.