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FIRST HOME BUYER SERIES: PART ONE

Written By: Property Team

Billie’s story – It’s a family affair  

“The best advice we got was to go to auctions to get familiar with the process.”

Haigh Lyon’s property team has put together a three-part series providing helpful tips and insights for those entering the housing market for the first time. In the first of the series Haigh Lyon receptionist and first home buyer Billie Birrell tells her story.

With the property market reaching new heights year after year, making it virtually impossible for new buyers to enter the market, I found myself in a predicament that thousands of Kiwis are faced with.  

I was ready to buy my first house but didn’t have enough money.

To overcome that hurdle I was lucky enough to be able to go in with my mum and brother, put our money together and become financially viable. It also gave us a small advantage because with three of us we had more money than the average first home buyer does.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Buying a house with others means that everyone’s needs (and wants) must be met. My dream home certainly didn’t look like my brother’s and vice versa.    

To resolve the problem of what sort of house we wanted, we wrote a list of all the things that were important to us. Josh, my brother, needed space for his cars and his own kitchen. My mum needed a nice outdoor area for herself. Me, I just wanted my own living space.

It was hugely challenging finding a house that suited all our needs. That’s where a heavy dose of compromise came in – and even now we continue to make sacrifices. Josh still doesn’t have a kitchen (although we are looking to add one) and my living space is semi shared.

After we had agreed on what sort of house we wanted, the next step was bracing ourselves to bid at an auction, which can be daunting for first home buyers.

Even after researching on what to do, I still felt like I had no clue how they worked. The best advice we got was to go to some auctions to get familiar with the process. It helped reduce our nerves dramatically when the time came for the real thing.

When you’re buying a home it’s important to realise things will go wrong. Even the most organised purchase can have hiccups. For us, it happened on settlement date. The man who sold us the house was still living there.

We found out that a business entity owned the house, and the man living there was a co-owner. The other co-owner had guaranteed the house would be empty and cleaned before the day of settlement, but it didn’t quite happen that way.

In hindsight, a pre-settlement inspection should have been undertaken at least two working days prior to settlement to give us time to sort any of the issues. However, we purchased during Auckland’s Covid-19 lockdown, which added another level of complexity, meaning the settlement date changed numerous times due to restrictions around moving house in level 4, and we didn’t end up being able to complete the inspection.

Even without the pandemic factor, it became clear to us that buying a house takes time. Everyone buying a house (me included) goes into it thinking it will take a couple of months. Realistically, it takes at least six months – so don’t rush and you will find the right place for you and your needs.

Another important lesson we learnt was getting a good lawyer. When you are shelling out six to seven figures, and committing to such a big debt, it is essential to find a lawyer who knows their stuff. I was lucky to have some of the best available through my workplace.

There are also a lot of emotional days, where you find yourself feeling mentally disheartened and physically drained. The first auction we went to where we wanted to buy the house was the most disappointing.

We had gone in seeing ourselves living there, even though we had been warned about the dangers of becoming emotionally attached. But emotions are a powerful thing, they took over, and it was a hard lesson to learn especially after the huge amount of time and energy that went into preparing for the auction.

There were times when I thought I would never get my first house. But with patience, passion, and a bit of good luck, rest assured you will find the right place for you. And along with my mum and brother, I’m now lucky enough to call myself a homeowner.

If you are looking at purchasing a house, Haigh Lyon can assist you to make the process a little easier. Contact Shaun McGivern on or 09 306 0623.