Purchasing Seddon House

Purchasing Seddon House was not an easy road. From unresponsive real estate agents, to uncertainty on the land value, Seddon House had it all. Dani shares the trials and tribulations of securing the very first THJ Projects property.

Purchasing Seddon House was a very drawn out process that involved plenty of research, lots of open houses and many discussions with the Home Journal team about what we even wanted Seddon House to be. We mulled over a variety of ideas including a multi-residential development, a heritage renovation, a full scale architectural build and the list goes on and on… so let me take it right back to the beginning and talk you through how we found our gem in the heart of the West.

Back in December of 2012 my partner Dan and I were renovating a heritage semi on The Block All Stars in Bondi and The Home Journal was in its infancy with concept and development having only just begun. It was while having our usual “room reveal” breakfast at local café Favoloso that I stumbled across a half-built unliveable house in Seddon, Victoria. At that stage though, it was purely just curiosity at what might be out there that was prompting my property searches rather then any actual plans at purchasing a property to renovate.

My searches continued for the next couple of months and for some reason Seddon House was still popping up in my results listing. “How could this property STILL be on the market” was my number one question. Surely there must have been something wrong with this place if other keen renovators weren’t jumping at the opportunity to pick up a half built house on a decent size block in one of the most sought after suburbs of the West. On paper it seemed like the perfect find as most of the heavy lifting had already been done i.e. demolition, planning, restumping, partial framing etc. So why was it still on the market?

Fast-forward to June 2013 and The Home Journal officially launched. It was then that I decided I wanted to showcase a full-scale renovation from start to finish. This would include everything from finding a suitable property, negotiating the sale, drafting plans, construction and fitout. Cue my endless property searches from the month’s prior…

Whilst my partner Dan and I were very keen on Seddon House we were a little sceptical as to why it was still on the market over six months after I had first seen it… and who knows how long it was on the market before that! We did some figures in our heads of what it might cost to complete the renovation but decided it was best to keep searching as something better would probably pop up.

Something else did pop up and it was in the form of a very unattractive pink house with a heritage overlay just a few streets away in the teeny tiny suburb of Kingsville. This place was a cracker! Not only was it unliveable (like Seddon House) but it was sinking internally, the façade had separated itself from the house, there were rats EVERYWERE and it was completely overgrown but the possibilities for this place were endless. In short, we loved this place (probably too much) and decided to attend the auction with a firm budget in mind. Auction day rolled around and fortunately (I can say that now) we were outbid.

A couple of things came out of that auction…
1. We may have underestimated the current value of the area and perhaps needed to revaluate our budget
2. We would only be able to afford a house that was unliveable, so we were virtually only paying for land
3. We didn’t just want to buy cleared land (still with me?)

These three points were potentially going to set us back but we were a very determined group and decided to revisit Seddon House and investigate it a little further. First off, I don’t think the agent really took us seriously as there were a few calls that went unanswered and emails that weren’t responded to, so it wasn’t the best start but made me wonder if this was the reason it was still on the market. Anyway, this didn’t dishearten us… yet, and after deciding that this was in fact the property we wanted, decided to make an offer.

What came next is what really got on my nerves. After making what we felt was a reasonable offer (considering the length of time the property had been on the market) we were greeted with absolute silence… nothing, nada, not one hint of a response from the agent. Although we did come in with a fairly low offer compared to the asking price, we felt that it definitely warranted a response. We wanted to test the waters a little and thought this may open the doors to a negotiation and possible counter-offer. After another follow-up email and phone call with no response, we felt it was time to recruit someone who specialised in buying property and knew the real estate game inside and out.

A referral soon led us to a reputable buyers advocate (also referred to as a buyers agent) in the Melbourne area with whom we negotiated a rate. Most buyers advocates work on a commission based fee structure and we were lucky to be able to negotiate this with the agent we chose.

Although we thought we knew the market pretty well our buyers advocate had access to data and reports that we didn’t, and after perusing a mountain of information we quickly realised that we were a little off the mark when it came to property prices in the Seddon area. This hurt a little, but we were confident that if we increased our purchase budget a little further that we would still be able to execute the build within our overall budget.

The biggest concern for us purchasing a property of this price was that we were worried about outlaying too much money on a property that wasn’t even liveable. However with the knowledge from our buyers agent coupled with the reporting on the area, those concerns were eased and we were confident we were making the right decision. The stress and back and forth that generally comes with purchasing a property was completely taken out of our hands and became the responsibility of the buyers agent and in less than 48hrs the deal was done.

Employing a reputable buyers advocate to do the deal was the smartest thing we did and would go down this road time and time again. Holding out and not letting emotions take over during the auction of the property in Kingsville was also a blessing in disguise. That property is still sitting there all pink and proud, has since been resold and is no closer to commencing any type of renovation/restoration work.

So there you have it, the purchasing process for Seddon House. I quickly stared referring to Seddon House as our ‘old faithful’ as it was the one we always kept coming back to.

Next up is the planning phase of the whole operation so stay tuned to THJ for our next instalment…

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