But we weren't in a position to buy - being self-employed, we needed to have a years accounts before any banks would even look at us.
A couple of Fridays ago I received a phone call from an agent who had my contact details from a house we had been to a month or so previously (and which, it turned out once we were in the hallway of the said property, was way out of our budget).
Anyway, he had a property on his books that was in our budget this time.
I had seen it on the two main property websites out here, but had bypassed it as the pictures they used weren't that flattering. I had assumed it was a knock down property - and those tend to go for more even than houses that are nicely finished; such is the way of the Sydney property market. We had been to view one a few weeks previously, which really did need knocking down, and it had gone for way more than our modest budget!
We finished the viewing and went to the car, opened the doors and climbed in, neither of us saying a word.
The little house had a charm to it which had bowled us over.
It needed work doing to it - quite a bit of work - from the basic painting to knocking a wall down and extending the kitchen, and generally fixing the strange layout which didn't really work, but it was livable with, and had potential to make it a lovely family home over the next years.
The street was lovely - leafy and quiet; the plot of land the house was on was a gentle slope, with front and back lawns, and like the property itself, we could see ourselves really making our mark on it.
He was great, and sent us the forms to fill in on the Saturday evening, and then placed our application in on the Sunday evening so it could start to be assessed first thing on the Monday morning, giving us a chance to get it approved by the end of the week.
They took me to the conveyancer's office where the receptionist gave me a card of one of their guys who would check over the house contract asap. He did that and came back with no major problems, then he placed an order to get a pest and building inspection done on the property on the Wednesday. Then we just had to sit and wait until he reports came in - due to be Thursday afternoon, and the results from the mortgage application were due to be back on Thursday afternoon too - two main hurdles.
We also knew this particular agent would get an offer verbally agreed by the vendor, then send out a text to everyone who had been through the property saying the contracts were about to be signed and to put in their best offer. A little too much like gazumping in our books, and it made us nervous.
She looked confused.
"J doesn't work here, he is based in our city centre office."
T and I looked at each other.
"You could conference call him from here if you like." She helpfully offered.
We wanted to speak to him in person really, feeling it was always better to be able to look someone in the eye, so checked that he was free for the next hour, and headed into the city.
We didn't want to drive into the city, as the traffic would be bad, and parking is extortionate.
Option 1: Drive home and get the bus from there.
But by the time we did that, we wouldn't get to his office for another hour at least.
Option 2: Get the bus from where we were.
The bus took a long time, despite us thinking it would be more direct, so wouldn't save us much time at all.
Whilst mulling the two options over, I searched on my phone for the ferry timetable for Greenwich, the suburb we we just going past the turning to, and screeched at T to turn left, as the ferry was leaving in 7 minutes - just enough time for us to drive down to the ferry wharf.
We parked up and ran to the ferry, catching out breath as we crossed the harbour.
Once off at Circular Quay, it was a brisk 10 minutes walk to the conveyancers office and eventually we arrived at the correct office, somewhat hot and breathless.
The conveyancer explained that he was trying to get in touch with the builder who had carried out the inspections on the property, but hadn't had any luck. He took our passports and ID and other bits and pieces he needed to photocopy for our file, and then came back in the room and sat down.
"I've managed to get in touch with the builder."
He paused, and from this, we knew it wasn't going to be good news.
He went on to explain the report had picked up some major structural problems - the property was built on piers, and some of these were at a precarious angle, others had collapsed, and some weren't even touching the floor above. There was also no proper drainage under the house, which meant that any water from the back lawn after a storm would find its own route to flow under the house, and had over time gauged a deep crater under the house - which some of the foundation piers were perilously balanced on the edge of, and therefore about to fall into.
In addition to this there was strong evidence of termites and borer beetles in the woodwork, as well as asbestos everywhere. The majority of the property was built from asbestos - which most houses here were until it was finally banned in the late 1980's. But seeing as our plan was to do a lot of the work ourselves, the last thing we wanted to be doing was messing around with asbestos walls.
If we had been planning on doing major renovations to the house - with builders - or knocking it down and starting again, all this would have been no problem, but with the house being close to the top of our budget anyway, we had no way in which to pay for these major works. The last thing we wanted to do was to pay for a house and worry every time it rained heavily, or each time we heard a creak, that we would wake up and the house would have rolled down the slope into the middle of the road.
There was no choice but to leave the lovely little house, and look elsewhere.
We didn't get the report through until the next morning, and it was very clear to see from the photos what the builder was talking about, and confirmed there was no way we wanted to take that on at the price the property was going for.