How we came to buy Cliftoria.

For the last few years Sharen and myself have been looking for a change in our house. While our house in Queanbeyan is quite nice and possibly the second or third best house in the street it is a fairly typical suburban house. It is a three bedroom brick veneer house built in the 1970s. There is a very large shed out the back and a separate garden shed. The East side of the house has a terrific car port that extends further than the house. The house is also north facing.

So we wanted a change. Preferably to a chunk of land bigger than a 10 acre block for planting Hazelnut trees and running a few hundred chickens. A nice large house with lots of room for many books to move into and not too close to creeks or rivers that can flood. Verandahs would be very nice to have. Commuting distance to Canberra is a must in order to pay off the mortgage.

So we looked and looked. From Dalgetty to Traralga. Cooma to Boorowa. We would visit areas like Batlow to see how they looked. The search was quite interesting.


The Dalgetty house/s

Unfortunately the places that appealed were well out of our budget and sometimes too far away. We would find nice blocks of land with falling down houses.  Nice houses but no land. Average houses on average land. Over time we redefined what we wanted. We found that the older houses were much more attractive to us.  They feel somehow more comfortable to live in. So we started looking more at older houses and there are more older houses in towns. Viewing them reminded me of the older houses that I had lived in when I was renting in Melbourne. While they have their idiosyncrasies it seemed more fun to be living in them than modern newly built houses. I’m also attracted to them as a contrast to having grown up in a new town that hadn’t existed before 1965. Everything was modern, shiny, and new.

And so Goulburn become a more interesting location for our searching. Goulburn has many older houses. We found a great 2 story house in Opal Street that has the largest one bedroom flat that I have ever seen, attached.


Opal Street

So we started preparing to buy it. Using a mortgage broker for the first time (we have bought 4 other houses without using one) we started dealing with the banks. Month after month the paperwork required increased. Every time we submitted the paperwork they wanted there would be a request for yet more documents. I became quite happy that we had a broker interface as otherwise I would have started yelling at the banking people. I was somewhat annoyed because the running around to get papers for the bank was taking so long. I strongly feel that it should be a simple tick box system with a list of required paperwork that you could put together at the start. Not keep getting a stream of requests for more and different statements and documents. At one point we had to go and get more up to date statements as some of the ones we had first provided had become too “old”. Our application had apparently arrived on the desk of the final approver in banking HQ in Sydney (apparently no one local can do mortgage approvals because that would be useful) when they noticed a minor crack in a photo of our current house and they requested a structural engineer’s report on it. At this point the Opal street house was sold to someone else.

So we told the structural engineer we still needed the report but not on a crash priority.



In early July 2013 Sharen noticed that an interesting old place had been put onto a real estate website. It was Cliftoria and it was up for auction as a mortgagee auction. We have never bought a house at an auction. We have always made offers on them before. However this place looked very interesting. Almost certainly it would be out of our price range. We went and looked at it anyway.  It obviously had issues as some work had been done on it recently but not completed. There was a fairly large hole in the ceiling of one of the kitchens from water damage. I felt the underlying structure was still sound. The recent rains had made a small lake in the cellar as the power was off and the pump couldn’t get the water out. A couple of walls had been taken down and the five flats had been converted back into the single building it had been before. We liked it so much that we got a building report done.

The three main issues in the building report was the leaky roof, a crack in the outside wall and the rising damp. There was some insect pest damage but it would be remarkable if a building from the 1800s didn’t have some of that. So we got a structural report on the building while encouraging the broker to get a pre-approval on a loan from the bank.  The structural report came back OK. The pre-approval came through. We got a deposit certificate to pay the deposit if we won the auction. We talked about various options in bidding in the auction.

Suddenly it was the 10th of August and we were driving to the auction. I was registered as a bidder getting number four.  I had a final quick look through the house and knew a lot of work has to be done on the building. However it is a simply marvelous building. Three floors with a cellar and converted stables at the back have so many possibilities. It is a building I would have loved to grow up in. At auction time we were all directed to the back garden while the building was locked. The auction started. There were no bids from the 5 registered bidders. Two of the bidders had come from Sydney to be at the auction. There was the Vendor’s bid and after a fairly short time the building was passed in. There was various negotiations taking place around the garden when we made an offer lower than the vendors bid. Sharen was concerned if we offered too much that the bank could still say no to the loan and we were not comfortable offering more on that day. We said we would have to check with the bank on Monday as the pre-approval loan was subject to the bank’s valuation and we had no idea what the bank might value this house at. We could then offer more if the bank valued it higher and the house was still unsold. Then we went off to have lunch.

After lunch we drove to the real estate office thinking we would check to see if it had been sold to someone else before we would drive past Cliftoria on the way home. The real estate agent had a funny look on her face and said that our offer had been accepted. We were very shocked and amazed. So we signed the paperwork. Then we went back to Cliftoria to have photos taken in front of the sign. Finally we went home as the new owners of this house. Currently we are in the midst of settlement. I’m still not sure that I believe we own this terrific house. Maybe after we get the keys I will. An adventure awaits us as we bring the house back to order,


5 responses to “How we came to buy Cliftoria.

  1. Well, when you have key and start the new adventure, let us all know so we can come see. And please let us know if you want help. Being part of a project with a group of friends is fun.

  2. I am so happy for you two! What a wonderful adventure, I wish you many happy years in the fabulous old lady!

  3. Found your blog via another Reno site (Convent & Chapel) and decided straight away that I had to read from the beginning. Love your first post and can’t wait to see more

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