Our unexpected home loan experience

When we won The Block All Stars the thing we were most excited about was gaining an instant deposit to buy a house. Everyone knows how hard it is to save a deposit big enough to get into the housing market these days and we were no exception. Renting, running a business and the general cost of living take up enough of your money, let alone saving the significant amount you need to buy a home. No wonder young people are finding it impossible to achieve that goal, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney where the prices are astronomical. Add to that the reality of seeing the market go up and up, and the feeling that if you don’t get in now you never will and it’s a pretty big pressure.

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 Us during our All Stars auction, easily one of the best moments of our lives.
Phil and I had bought and renovated investment properties before, but had never owned our own home. We were happy to rent and live without the burden of a big mortgage over our head, allowing us to travel and invest in our businesses. Besides, whenever something needed fixing it was done for us and there’s a lot to be said for that! But eventually, as we had kids and my passion for interior design grew we yearned to have a place to call our own. Somewhere I could paint a room if the mood struck me and not have to suffer through the inconvenience of inspections and the uncertainty of lease renewals. Somewhere we could build a future.

Soon the freedom we’d felt from renting felt like a weight on us, and the desire to own our own home became all consuming. However, the excitement and possibility of going to open inspections was counterbalanced by the prospect of home loan applications. Now, instead of a home inspection to deal with, we had to face a financial inspection.

We’re both self employed and have been for as long as we’ve been together. And we work in the arts. Can’t you just see the banks rushing to give us a loan?! With creative professions that involve risk and financial uncertainty there can be good months and bad months. We both love what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world, but it does make us a slightly challenging prospect for bank decision makers. So we knew we had to find a bank that would give our application the time and attention it needed.

Straight away my Dad suggested we meet the Customer Relations Manager at Bendigo Bank, Corinne, who he had been dealing with on all their banking matters. He talked about how friendly and helpful she was and she’d recently secured a loan for another family member he’d referred, so he was confident she’d do her best for us.

These days it feels like the role of the personal bank manager, who made the decision on your applications themselves, is long gone. Not that I’m  old enough to remember it ever being like that, having always dealt with computers and ATM’s when it came to my banking, but I imagine it was very different.

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Olden days banking, c/o Mary Poppins.

Now it’s all so impersonal and a computer gets to decide the outcome. It looks at your information without emotion or perspective and decides if you tick the boxes. Or fit into the boxes. And if you’re like us and don’t fit into them perfectly, there’s a real chance the computer will say no.

So when you’re suddenly dealing with a real person, who shows a genuine interest in your life, business and future plans, it feels a little bit old fashioned and surprisingly nice. As soon as we met Corinne made us feel like she cared about our individual case, unlike the computers. She took our calls when we were frustrated by delays and calmly reassured us that it would be worth it. My Macbook never does that.

Finally, we got our approval and were very excited to be the proud owners of a big fat mortgage. Although I have no doubt in a few years time, when something needs fixing, we will reminisce about our renting days! However, when we did eventually find our perfect property and signed on the dotted line, Corinne was right, it was so worth it.

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Our first pic in front of our new house, that we later knocked down!

We’re not the type that fit into boxes and we’re OK with that. However there are so many of us in the same situation. Whether they’re self-employed, freelance, artists, single parents or students, sometimes we need someone to look at our story, go into bat for us and champion our cause.  A real person that can see what a computer can’t, that boxes are inflexible but life is not.

Now it’s not just my Dad who is recommending that friendly lady at Bendigo Bank, we are too. Honestly, I never thought I’d have something nice to say about a bank, but in this case they really surprised us. And when our dream house is finished, we’re going to invite Corinne around for coffee to show her what she helped us achieve. Just like in the old days.

*We are now part of Team Bendigo Bank and will be sharing more of our experiences with them throughout our building journey.

Comments

  1. Melanie Guile says

    oh Amity, I feel like we are going through the exact same thing! (apart from being self employed) After years of renting and thinking that we would never get a deposit for a house, we came into some money and our dreams of owning a house have come true. We have gone through a mortgage broker for our loan and we got a lovely lady who looked after us and made us feel as if she cared! Getting documents signed was a nightmare with my husband being a FIFO worker, we were getting seriously worried we wouldn’t have finance in place in time and that the contract was going to crash on our house. Monica said don’t worry leave it to me and coordinated with our solicitor to put an extension on the finance clause (I didn’t even know we could do that) and let the bank know as well. It all turned out and she personally rang to congratulate us when the loan came through. We can’t wait to move in and paint some walls and start decorating!

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