Some people camp out overnight to secure concert tickets to see their favourite rock band. But when Rachel Anderson and her partner, Alan Edwards, set themselves up overnight in Sydney's north-west, they had another prize in mind – their dream home.
When land became available recently in The Ponds, a new Sydney suburb, the young couple made sure they didn’t miss out. The night before the land was released, they brought sleeping mats and a portable DVD player, and settled down for a long night. Forecasts of rain were of no consequence.
"It was 36 degrees Celsius with a massive wind all day," says Anderson. "The night got cold around 8pm, but it cleared up in the morning. Luckily, it didn’t rain – as forecast."
Although they were the first on the site that night, they weren't alone. About half a dozen others joined them soon after, equally anxious to secure locations in the development.
For Anderson, 32, the overnight stint was to prevent the reoccurrence of a disappointing experience that happened to the pair a year earlier.
In late 2007, Anderson and Edwards started looking for land on which to build their first home.
They were living with her parents in Glenhaven, and wanted to buy a house large enough to start a family eventually, but also affordable enough to fit their budget.
However, the couple arrived just too late at that first land-release site. There were 30 people in the queue and by the time they reached the front, there was no longer any land left available.
"I was devastated," she says and, with that option gone, they decided to hold off any other serious considerations for the time being.
Better off buying now than a year ago
As it turns out, Anderson and Edwards were most likely better off missing out – at least financially. With the latest boosts to the First Home Owner Grant, they’ve ended up gaining an additional $17,000 by waiting until recently to go back to their dreams of home ownership. Keeping in mind that interest rates were significantly higher then and that home prices in Sydney have been level at best, it's looking even better that they waited.
Anderson says it was the news of the government incentives that got them both so motivated to secure a land package this time around.
"It pushed our timing ahead," she laughs. "We made sure we got our butts in gear this time."
Tony Pizzolato, Australand’s general manager for NSW residential, says many other young couples have been spurred into buying action lately as well.
"A lot of those people at The Ponds have been sitting on the sidelines for some time now," he says.
Anderson and Edwards succeeded in buying 455m2 of land for $275,000, and combined it with a four-bedroom+study package designed by Eden Brae Homes for a total of $500,000.
Two of the reasons for them choosing The Ponds were the abundant green area surrounding it and its proximity to their work in Blacktown, says Anderson. She also liked the fact that no home on the block has the same facade, making each one individual. She didn’t want to live in a development where every house was the same.
The development also has other aesthetic requirements – such as not having a garage in the front of a house – and certain other design standards had to be met as well.
"You don’t want to spend $500,000 on a home and then find the house next door is a dump," she adds.
But one of the key features was also the price. Anderson says that if they had looked closer to the city, or in nearby Glenhaven where her parents live – with whom they are still staying – there would have been little hope of finding a house of a similar size in their price range.
"We couldn’t get anything like it if we looked in the area we’re in now," she says. "But what we got, I think, was very good value."
Although they’ve put a deposit down, the couple still has some waiting to do before they can actually move in.
"It is quite nerve-racking, in fact," says Anderson.
She adds that she and Edwards plan to put any savings they get from the government directly back into their mortgage.