The Day We Bought The Bank A House

27th February 2010: We Bought A (Blurry) House There’s a well thumbed copy of a book called Everything You Need To Know (But Forget To Ask) When Buying Or Selling Property sitting on the table beside my bed. According to the book it is not uncommon to wake up the day after you buy a house thinking “oh god, what have we done?”

Buyer’s Remorse, they call it.

Maybe this will set in later, but on Sunday morning–the day after we bought the bank a house–the first thought to enter my head was not one of remorse but amazement. “I can’t believe I bought a house at auction yesterday!” I thought to myself when I woke up, with a grin.

It’s certainly an odd way to buy a house. Although Australia-wide there are plenty of houses bought and sold by private sale, in Melbourne (and inner Melbourne at that) the vast majority of property changes hands through public auctions right there in the street outside the house, just like on Neighbours that time when they sold Mrs Mangel’s or Number 30 or whichever one it was.

Saturday was a big day for us–with the place we were interested in going under the hammer at 1pm, we got some practice in by attending three other auctions beforehand that morning. None of these were houses we wanted to buy, but I had previously been inside all of them and thought it would be a good idea to get in the right mindset for the job ahead, and pick up a couple of tactics from some of the other bidders (although as we were advised by Sal’s sister earlier in the week the only tactic that really works every time is “have more money than everyone else”–I’m not sure that’s necessarily something you can pick up in a morning).

We weren’t the only people who had turned up just to watch, though. At our second auction of the day, in Yarra Street in Abbotsford, The Age had sent a photographer and Channel Nine had sent a reporter and cameraman to interview one of the agents and film people shouting out numbers in the street. Clearly a slow news day in Melbourne.

As I Twittered at the time, I had to resist the strongest of urges to run past the interview being filmed beforehand shouting “Eddie McGuire‘s a Prick!” Somehow I managed to keep this childish thought to just myself and anyone who might be following my twitter stream or facebook status…

By the time our one came round, any confidence I might have had earlier in the week had well and truly gone, as we’d seen all three properties sell for well over their advertised price and well over our budget. Still, we headed over to the house and took up a position over the road in amongst a crowd of about 50 or so people spread along the street, and waited for what seemed like an age as the minutes counted down to 1pm.

In the end it proved to be remarkably easy to spend more money than I have ever spent on a single thing in my entire life (most of which I don’t even have). There was a point just before I entered the bidding when I was suddenly struck by the fear that I wouldn’t be able to say the words (what if I opened my mouth and nothing came out? what if I let someone else buy it for less money than we were prepared to pay just because I didn’t get in a bid in time?) but luckily I hadn’t lost the power of speech and I managed to yell out (possibly a little too loudly–I think a lady to my left gasped when I shouted the amount) a number a couple of thousand dollars above the current bid. And once I was in there was nothing to it–by that point there was only one other bidder left and we were only going up in $1,000 increments, at some way under what we were prepared to pay for the place, so it was quite easy to just keep nodding my head and putting it back onto the other bidders. We were competing against an older couple who we later found out were buying for their daughter. Every time the bid went back to them the wife would shake her head as if that was it for them, but then after a pause the husband would bid again. But then they reached their limit and stopped, and after the longest pause of the day so far, (“are we all done? is there anyone else? any more bids…?”) a small piece of Collingwood (a much underrated but very central suburb bordered by cool Smith Street and close to Brunswick Street) was ours. *

Still can’t believe it, though.

* By which I mean we bought 10% of it. It might be ours in 2035, if we’re lucky…