-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, January 12, 2004

email minutiae: contacting Mum

After we found the place on the Internet, one of the first things I did was to let Mum know. Mostly because she'd be interested, and partly to enlist her help if we needed it. Here's that initial series of emails. Unfortunately the listing on the real estate.com site referred to in the first email has disappeared so I can't include the photos from the original listing. I'm sure I downloaded them but can't find them now. If I come across them again I'll add later. But, from memory, there were at least two pictures. One of an area that showed green grass and little trees (now we know that was taken in winter at at the top part of the property where the forest is starting to move in!) and one of the house at a distance.

Asking Mum for help- 12th Jan 2004
Hi Mum,
I was just idly checking out the property site in Australia to see if there was anything going really cheap which I do every so often, and I found this: property # 101079857 at http://www.realestate.com.au. "Here is a challenge for a handyman, this grand old Victorian weatherboard was relocated some years ago. It was given a new roof and new stumps, but desperately needs to bring the inside back to its former glory. Set on a picturesque 30 acres with a large dam and state forest bordering one side and lovely views".

They want $90,000 for it, which we both thought was pretty good value considering it's on 30 acres. This would be plenty for a playfarm as well as a fantastic garden. The house itself doesn't look suitable for living in at the moment, but presumably you could agist the land which would at least contribute something until we could afford to fix the house up.

It's in a place called Amherst. These are its distances from nearby big towns: Ballarat: 50km, Bendigo: 70km, Geelong: 130km. I think that puts it in the Pyrenees region? Do you know that part at all?

Dave is pretty enthusiastic about it - he likes the idea of having a decent sized amount of land, we'd almost given up on it having seen the prices things were going for (e.g., in Toora now, they want $120,000 for just 5 acres!) Besides having a dam and appearing relatively green, it's good that this land is already mostly cleared (or at least appears to be) because they don't let you clear bush today so it's pointless unless you buy something that's already been cleared for grazing. Also, presumably it has planning permission for building on as there's already a house. Might not be power/services/etc but perhaps they're nearby. Dave's going to call the agent tonight; do you think you and/or Dad and/or Pete would fancy a daytrip to check it out, if we still think it's worth a shot after Dave has talked to the agent? We'll ask Dave's parents too, but it'd be great if Dad especially could look at it because he knows the most about building etc. I think the house needs loads of work and what we'd be buying is the land and the option to build, but you never know. Maybe it won't be as bad as it appears in the picture and perhaps Pete would like to live there and do it up in exchange for free rent.

Anyway, I'll let you know, just thought you'd be interested and so I'd mention it to you now in case.
Love Lyn

Mum's reply - 12th Jan 2004

Mmmm it is one of the places they talk about on the mailing lists - old gold mining area I think. I will have a better look later.

But I don't think you will be able to borrow the money from the credit union - remember you were near the limit you could borrow as they will only "expose" themselves to any one person to the tune of $180,000? we found that out when we went through the hoops to get Gran's place. That shold settle end of Feb by the way always assuming their finance goes through. They have about a week still on that from memory.

There's some sites you can get aerial photos on, but doubt this would be one of them. You may be able to see the land title thing too - think it is the govt titles office, and has something like land channel int he web site address. Will have a quick look...

http://services.land.vic.gov.au/landchannel/jsp/TermsAndConditions.jsp?serviceName=interactivemap not sure if Amhurst is listed - but have a look just for fun anyway.

My reply to Mum's reply - 12th Jan 2004

Yes, I thought there might be a problem with the credit union limit, but I didn't realise it was $180,000. I thought I still had some room before I'd hit it. Anyway, let's see, I emailed the credit union to ask anyway. It's not a problem if not, as we can just finance it from here as we have more than enough equity in our London house to borrow against. In fact, given that there isn't going to be any income to offset against it from Australia, borrowing in the UK to just buy it outright might be the simplest approach anyway. I've set up a call with Nationwide (our building society here) for tomorrow night and they should be able to give us an answer pretty quickly - I would imagine an approval in principle over the phone, then we'd just have to fill in the forms and wait a few weeks. They say if you're an existing borrower you can borrow up to 85% of the equity in your house for any purpose at their standard mortgage base rate, and we would be well under this.

Dave spoke to the estate agent just now and all seems good. It's around 2-2.5 hours drive from Melbourne and virtually all of the 30 acres is cleared. All the surrounding area is farms and very quiet and rural, which is exactly what we wanted. The house, as we expected, is a shell - it has a new roof, new foundations and floor but not much else. Electricity runs past the front of the property, which is good, so we'd just have to deal with getting it to the house which hasn't been done yet. Running costs (rates, etc) are only around $250 per year. Roads and fencing are all OK. It's been on the market for about 6 months, originally priced at $130,000 but they've just dropped the price to try and get a quick sale. Apparently there were 4 people looking at it over the weekend, so I suspect we will have to move quickly if we decide to go for it.

I think, given that the house is a shell, it's not a problem that Dad can't get up to look at it. Really, we just need someone to go see it and check there's nothing obviously wrong with the land/road/fences etc and the surrounding area. We'd be prepared to put in an offer based just on that; after all there's not a lot that can go wrong with land especially at such a decent price. Later on Dad could look at the house and decide what if anything we needed to do to protect it getting damaged until we were ready to do it up, or indeed whether it was even worth saving (I would imagine so though, considering the new roof and foundations are already done). Dave tried to call his parents to see if they could go up there to look but they're out. He'll try calling them again tomorrow, but if you fancy going too or instead of then feel free to call the agent - tel: (03) 5348 3151. Dave has sent them an email explaining that someone would be calling asap. The person he spoke to was called Wayne Gull in their Daylesford office.

It's quite exciting this, don't you think? It's all happening fast but then it usually does with us. You get a gut feeling about something and it's best just to go with it. If I hadn't we never would have bought either of the previous two houses and they both worked out brilliantly. Also, I can justify it because buying this would be about the same cost as buying the new car I really want (a Range Rover), so I will trade off and not buy the car and buy the land instead. It's not exorbitant because lots of people in my kind of job buy new cars like that, I'm just sticking with driving an old car and investing in something else instead.

...and Mum's reply - 12th Jan 2004

I will see if Dad and I can see it - I too would like to visit it and it is in the area I would like - my gg grandparents were round Daylesford and so on.

did you check the maps from titles office site I sent.? if you have the exact address you should be able to get the exact location up, Interesting that the road it is on is going to a town of that name. mind you I think it would be lucky to have a general store at either location these days.

I THINK the limit was $180,000 with credit union; it may have gone up a little since then or my memory may be wrong..

..and my reply - 12 Jan 2004

Yes I think I managed to find it at that titles office site, thank you. It is either one of two properties, I think. I can't figure it out from the pictures for sure. There is no number, it is just Lillicur Road, Amherst.

Have you seen this site? http://visitmelbourne.com.au/displayObject.cfm/ObjectID.0000B41D-D36D-1A88-8B4680C476A9047C/vvt.vhtml
It has a route planner that tells you directions as well as distances between places. So, e.g, Amherst is 14km, supposedly around 16 minutes from Maryborough, which Dave says is a great little town full of old buildings and guesthouses; and 62 km from Daylesford. So, I'm not fussed if there is no general store nearby.

Are you going to call the agent then? I'd thought of Dave's parents first just because we'd thought they'd be able to get up there sooner than you would, as I figured it would be the weekend at the earliest that you could make it, but I don't mind who. Let me know if you do call them so I can let Dave know.

I'm going to bed now, good night


Mum's reply- 13th Jan 2004

have arranged to visit Weds night after funeral {note: this was my aunty Evelyn's funeral}- Wayne will take us out there, have his mobile to ring as we leave Geelong. Meet him Daylesford.

Just rang Dad and he is OK with that.

He said he will look at the house and advise.. but from what the estate agent said, I think maybe continue until we see it with your thoughts of maybe ignoring the existing house and start again. all inside needs doing. He said small house - I said what, 2 bedroom lounge and kitchen? and he said yes that sort of basic thing.

NOTHING at Amherst, just a locality now. No shop, nothing. Nearest is village or whatever you may like to call it is Talbot.

and my reply - 13th Jan 2004

Hi Mum, thanks so much for doing that, I wasn't expecting it... as I said, that's why we were going to ask Dave's parents. I'll keep my fingers crossed then. Can you take lots of photos with the digital camera, of the land from different angles and surroundings? I agree about the house... I figure it's a nice bonus perhaps but what we're buying is the land. I'm guessing it might not look as pretty at the moment, I imagine it's going to be all dry because it's summer there, but let's see. You said you'd had some rain recently didn't you?

Have to run to work now, will let you know how the discussion with Nationwide goes tonight.
Love Lyn.

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