Property ladder: Don't be fussy

Last updated 05:00 21/06/2013

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The great Kiwi property ladder

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At 25-years-old my husband and I were new to the property market. We knew nothing. It took our family telling us there was dead money in paying rent to spur us on to buy our first home.

Living in Auckland, we quickly realised we didn't have enough money for a nice house in the leafy suburbs of the city.

This left us with slim pickings and we began to look in the cheaper areas of Auckland. In the end we settled on a very small three bedroom house in an area of West Auckland cramped with cheap housing and rental properties.

The house sat on a very small property, surrounded by Housing NZ rentals at the end of a shared drive-way with four other houses.

The vendor, who was struggling to sell it, agreed to a cheaper purchase price than offered and we enjoyed our first victory as we signed the sale and purchase agreement.

Victory was short lived as we scrambled around trying to convince a bank to take us on - we just couldn't secure a mortgage to finance the purchase. In the end my husband's parents came in as security in order for us to get a foot in the door.

We were financed close to 100 per cent of the property purchase.

For the first few years we really struggled with the high repayments and were disheartened when we realised we had hardly even touched the principal of our loan.

Hunkered down with our wee family and a massive mortgage, both of us were working full time to cover expenses.

We watched our friends enjoy their non-attached lives and we could only look on. We missed out on social outings, holidays and travelling as we scratched together enough money for petrol and nappies.

Slowly, however, as our income increased and time went by, everything started to get easier, the light at the end of the tunnel appeared to be getting closer and closer.

After seven years we had come to enjoy our little house and the small community we lived in, but we had outgrown our home - it was time to put our house on the market.

The interest in our house was pretty slow to pick up and remembering how hard it was for the last owner we started to think maybe it was just not our time. Our mistake was putting the house through auction. After a bad outcome at auction we put a price on it. Suddenly we were inundated with interest. Not sure if this was the best we were going to get, we accepted the first offer, but as it turned out we ended up with two back-up offers ready to go to paper.

We were shocked by the quick turn around in the interest of our property and with the current offer on the table we realised we were set to come out of the sale in a position to secure a decent home in a decent area.

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We basked in our joy as we spent weeks scanning the real estate websites and papers watching opportunity unfolding before us.

We finally secured a property. A basic five bedroom home on two-and-a half acres of bush and pastoral land located at the foothills of the Waitakere Ranges.

When our sale and purchase agreement went unconditional; my husband and I went out to dinner. I was horrified when I realised I hadn't even looked at the price of the food even more so when I noticed that I had stopped doing that a long time ago, but it made me fully appreciate our journey.

We both reflected on how far we had come, realising in our times when we thought we were not going to make it we had now secured a property more than what we could imagine. A place to bring up our family a place that is our own.

When I look back I can see we got where we are by sucking it up and getting realistic about what we can truly afford.

Don't be so quick to write off a house because it isn't in the right area or suburb. People tell you 'buy the worst house in the best street', but truthfully that situation rarely comes around.

We stayed in our little house in an undesirable area of Auckland for a few years before we were in a position to be fussy. Sometimes you just need to start from the bottom. Finally I will never ever forget what my in-laws did for us; it was because they took a risk on us that we we able to realise our dreams.

Property is wealth; our ancestors settled on these shores for it and our Tupuna knew it too. It has always been that way and always will be. I'm not just rattling on about monetary wealth; it is what you leave behind.

As my in-laws told us 'everything you do, should be in order to leave a legacy for your children, your children's children and the generations to follow. I will always be grateful for their aroha and our next big goal is to be in a position to do the same for my children too.

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