Summer Goodwin with new home
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Sisters are doin’ it for themselves

My mum Peta Goodwin is a phenomenal role model. She dances to the tune of the 1985 feminist anthem by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. This is a thank you note to her.

Mum was 19-years-old when she had me. She went straight back to full-time work (sole parent pension didn’t exist in 1972) and never received financial support from my father. We moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1975 and joined the hippie movement. Moving to a new country with a three-year-old wouldn’t have been easy.

In the 1980’s, Mum grabbed a home loan opportunity for low-income earners and bought a block of land in Margaret River. We designed the house she had built. The house and land cost about $30,000. It’s hard to imagine now, but that was a huge financial commitment at the time – especially for a single woman. And today, at 61, she’s expanded the house to create a home business and is semi-retired. Sisters are, indeed, doin’ it for themselves.

I bought my first home in 2007 in Darwin. Mum encouraged me to invest in real estate and assisted me with a deposit so I could get into the market. Like mum, I took a loan opportunity for low-income families – a shared equity arrangement with the NT Government called HomeNorth (sadly this scheme no longer exists). I went from “I’m never buying a house” to “I’ve put in an offer” in the space of about two weeks.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Living in my own home gave me a sense of security and stability I’d always sought – usually in men – but never found. Thanks Mum. I sold the unit in July last year, hoping to buy a similar place in Melbourne.

Mum advised me to buy on my own again (if I could afford to) so the place was always mine. I wanted to buy a house with my partner of four years, but it never happened. Then I wanted to buy a place with the guy after him, but (thankfully) that didn’t happen either. So, in the end it was just me.

I spent about eight months attending inspections most Saturdays and tossing up whether to buy north or south of the city. The market was heating up as the months went by. Then in spring – Melbourne’s peak real estate season – everything was going to auction and I found myself priced out of the area I’d decided to buy in. I was tired of looking and started to feel like I’d missed the boat.

But two weeks ago, I finally found my new home. A cute little two-bedroom unit in the perfect location and in my price range. It’s a short walk to public transport, shops and the beach. It’s big enough for my son and me now – but it will be perfect for me alone. I can see myself living there at 90. This weekend I put the SOLD sign up outside my new home. It was an amazing feeling. I’m standing on my own two feet and ringin’ on my own bells. Hell yeah.

3 Comments

  • PP

    A great read Summer.

    Enjoyed your piece on the joys of property ownership.

    I’m another who can trace inspiration to a single parent, not on much money, buying a home, and so putting a stop to our previously frequent house moving.

    Here’s a couple of suggestions that may help others get into property ownership.

    1. Your near namesake Jan Somers. A Queensland school teacher who accidentally started buying properties in different states due to moving around for work and renting them out rather than selling them.
    Became a top selling author of several popular books and established an online forum. http://www.somersoft.com.au/about.htm

    2. Buying homes on low income. Shared equity is one approach. ‘Sweat equity’ where people substitute time for money and build their own homes, possibly with a group, would be another.

    The conventional approach to home buying is to buy your own place first, and then get one or two rental properties later if desired. Unfortunately following this can lock low income people out of home
    ownership because the bank may (often sensibly) deem their income insufficient to service the loan.

    A way around this is to purchase the rental places first as the tenants rent will greatly help with the
    mortgage repayments (and improve your serviceability in the eyes of the bank). It is not that widely known that one can safely purchase and hold multiple rental properties for less than the mortgage of
    a single Melbourne home. This doesn’t negate the benefits of living in one’s own home but can help people on lowish incomes buy a property sooner than otherwise (provided you’re cautious and maintain adequate insurance and a savings buffer).

    3. Beware the investment shonks out there. Some outfits are downright shady. Others might not be but the homes they flog may be overpriced compared to if you found it yourself. Time spent on property and investment research and comparisons is NEVER wasted. The tale of Robin Greenberg, Western Women and the women they preyed on particularly resonates http://www.crimenet.org/index.php?tp=page&id=about

    • Summer Goodwin

      Summer Goodwin

      Hi Peter, thanks for taking the time to post a comment and for these great tips!

      I agree, buying an investment property is a good way to get into the market – you can borrow more and someone else pays off the mortgage for you. Although if you’re paying high rent, it can sometimes be cheaper to live in the property. My mortgage will be less than the rent I’m currently paying in the same suburb, but I’m swapping a house for a unit.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Cheers, Summer

  • Jac

    Jac

    Congratulations on buying your place Summer! Big love and admiration to all the amazing gals and guys that service a mortgage and family alone. You are giants!

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