Yes, as we said at the end of the last post, we are now permanent residents of Australia. They aren’t going to kick us out [Lisa edit: unless Dan does something REALLY stupid; we all know that could happen!]. And that means it is time to get homophonic…we are permanent residents with a permanent residence. We bought a house.
The residence (house) stuff was all going down, but sort of on hold, while the residency (visa) stuff was happening. Here’s a brief rundown, supplementing (overlapping?) things from the last post. We started looking at houses (thanks for helping Gloria!) several weeks ago, knowing that the lease on the rental is up in early July and we didn’t want to sign for another six months. At one open house, the agent told us about another house we might be interested in, and later in the day we went to look at it (through the windows, but it’s a new, empty house so no one called the police). This was a Saturday afternoon. We liked it – a lot! – so on Monday we called the bank for a mortgage pre-approval. That came through on Thursday, so we rang the agent and went that evening for another look…and made a verbal offer. A couple of phone calls to negotiate (while we stood in the kitchen) and it was accepted. Things are a bit casual here…nothing signed yet.
On Friday we call the bank again, do some more formal things, get a solicitor (lawyer in Canadian lingo) to handle the transaction, and all is going fine until those calls from the bank and the immigration lawyer on the following Tuesday. Then, as you read earlier this week, things went to hell…
As the visa application was being processed, we did everything we could to keep the house sale going…slowly. There were a couple of clauses in the contract that we wanted to see if we could get changed, such as the possession date and the deposit. In Canada, you negotiate those things; here, the standard is that you get the house 28 days after signing and giving a 10% deposit. We wanted a slightly later possession (don’t want to be paying mortgage and rent for too long) and the idea of a 10% deposit when you only need 5% in the bank for a mortgage is odd. Hell, we sold our house in Canada with a 2% deposit! So the solicitors solicited one another (isn’t that illegal in some countries?) and got that worked out. And we got a termite inspection done…
Then we just sort of cooled our heels while Lisa went to Canada, and DIAC did its stuff. Our lawyer, the vendor’s lawyer, the current owner (a builder), the bank and the agent were calling one another, trying to keep everyone happy. We checked in with our lawyer and the agent every few days, updating that there was no update. The vendor was getting a bit antsy (termitey?), we heard, but our lawyer thinks he just needed to relax…we were going to buy the house, we just needed a bit of time.
As per our last post, it all finally came together.
So on Friday morning we signed the contract to purchase and left a deposit cheque with our lawyer; later that afternoon we signed the mortgage documents. We bought a house.
Well, we think we bought a house. We at least signed a form to borrow money and to use that money to purchase a house. And we signed a contract with our lawyer saying that we will buy it. Beyond that, how the transaction will take place kind of baffles us. The lawyers, having already solicited one another need to “exchange” (may have happened after we left; we’re not sure…we don’t want to know). On the day of possession the lawyers and the bank will “attend settlement” – but we don’t. We think it’s a big drink fest at the local brewery, where they have a few pints, toss some cheques around the table, and then decide to call us to pick up the keys. That’s our only job on settlement, apparently; we get a call and pick up the keys. But then again, we did sign to give the bank permission to access our account for any expenses on that day…if there is a Thirsty Crow invoice in there, we are going to be pissed! And there are some clauses on some of the docos that seem a bit weird, but we were assured that they are just typical Australian house transfer stuff. Such as there being a fee to have the deed/title to the house turned over to us after the mortgage is paid…otherwise, it (the paper itself or what it says on it, we’re not sure) stays with the bank…even though we own it… We don’t think they were just taking advantage of some naive Canadians (but wait! we’re pseudo-Aussies, now that we have PR status; would they really do that to one of their own?).
And it is even more baffling… because from now to 72 hours before we get possession of the house (or the bank does, or our solicitor, or something happens) we will be out of the country. Yes, this was also a bit of an issue in terms of getting all the stuff organized and signed, because we are heading to Ontario for 2 weeks (well, we’ll be off this island for 2 weeks, but that does include a lot of time in the air). And if we didn’t get everything signed by the time we left, we would have just had to walk away from a good deal on a good house and start hunting again when we got back. But that wouldn’t have given us enough time to get the process done before we had to be out of the rental, so we’d be looking at another few months of paying someone else to live here.
And it would also mean that a lot of the economic concessions that we are eligible for now that we have the 857 (PR) visa wouldn’t be in place; another huge incentive to get PR status and have the house sale completed before June 30 was that there are two NSW government programs – one for people buying their first home, and another for people buying their first home that is a new home, that are worth about $20,000! We got in just under the wire… Imagine that? Become a pseudo-Aussie and they pay you to live here! A fair dinkum deal that!
So we’re now off to ‘home’ – back to visit family and friends (Lisa edit: And one of us will be working! Hello?? I have a conference; hope to see a bunch of you in Waterloo!). Probably no blogging for a couple of weeks…