Dealing with the Grief of Househunting

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Sylvia Tran| Domain| February 19, 2016

Congratulations! You’ve decided to embark on that formidable journey towards the bedrock of the Australian Dream: home ownership and the associated ball-and-chain of a mortgage.

You’ve set up your weekly budget, got the real estate jargon down pat and you’ve even braved the move back home to scrimp some more dollars from your pay packet.

And yet the newbie house hunter’s excitement wanes ever so quickly. If you’ve set your eyes upon a piece of the property market in the past few years with its skyrocketing prices and growing gentrification, chances are you will have dealt with the five stages of downgrading your property purchasing dreams.


Scrawling through the online property listings for the umpteenth time, you once again struggle to drag your slack jaw off the floor. They’re asking how much for that grungy two-bedroom unit with a concrete garden? Tell him he’s dreaming!

Attending auctions has triggered the cognisance of your limited buying power: bids increase at an alarming pace and you realise if you had been bidding you would have been long out of the game.

You scour the papers and all the media reports are of unprecedented growth; that it’s a seller’s market; that first home buyers are being locked out of the market.

You begin to panic. This can’t be right. This sort of growth is just unsustainable! This can’t go on forever. The bubble has to burst, right?


The bubble doesn’t burst.

And so comes the anger. And no one is safe.

There’s the anger at the investors who are having their cake and eating it too. Being pushed out of the market while they line their pockets and reap the rewards of negative gearing and a 50 per cent capital gains discount they enjoy when they eventually sell these properties is just not sitting well with you.

There’s the anger at the creeping gentrification which now leaves you unable to afford purchasing in the working class suburb you grew up in. Suddenly you’re competing with families for a patch of turf.

And you’re angry at anyone accusing you of a Gen Y sense of entitlement and unwillingness to make sacrifices. Oh no, you shouldn’t gripe at the fact that houses on average now cost 12 times the annual income or that the average first-time buyer could now take up to nine years to save up their deposit!


Gratifying as it is to vent about your property buying woes, it isn’t getting you anywhere. You begin lowering your expectations.

Maybe everyone’s right. Maybe you have been too picky. You just need to get a foot in the door, after all.

Who needs space? Sixty square metres will do. A house was probably too big for you, anyway.

Forget about the luxury of a small yard. A couple of pot plants on the windowsill should suffice.

Who needs an actual lounge room? You’re fine with a dining/living/hallway/bedroom …

Yep, you clearly had been too picky.


Settling for something that vaguely fits your budget means being shackled for life in exchange for an inflated s–thole. The thought of paying off a hideously large loan to finally own a shoebox is depressing. Are people just selling their financial futures for a piece of anything? Are they living off two minute noodles and crackers even as they enter their 30s, 40s ..?

And so, you disappear at the hint of a discussion about the property market around the work water cooler. The knot of dread gnaws when a well-intentioned friend asks you that question, “So how’s the house hunt going?” There is no longer solace in bitching and moaning with other disgruntled house hunters; just reminders of what you so sorely do not have.

Let’s face it. You’re going to be a permanent resident in your parent’s house. You’re never going to own your own home.


Well enough of the self-indulgent pity party!

You pull yourself up, ready to face the reality and the glaring unaffordability of it all threatens to send you back to denial. But you know better than that now. This is the reality of the property market. And the reality sucks – it’s unfair, it’s ugly, it’s expensive. You don’t like it, but you have to deal with it.

The ever increasing prices meant you were saving for an ever increasing house deposit. All the scrimping and scrounging and cutting things out of your life had also cut out the joy of life. But planning for your future didn’t also have to mean a cheerless present.

You’ve been to a few inspections and they had some potential. Perhaps you had been too hasty to write off this whole being-an-adult-and-buying-my-own-place venture. You’ll keep saving. And you’ll get there… eventually.

Plus, they say the bubble’s going to burst this year.

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