Seachangers and treechangers! Do they ever come back?

Jules Bondy and Meghan Anders (and dog Lottie) are putting their Northcote home on the market and making the move to the country.

I want to live in a place that’s beautiful!” you cry. “There’s too much traffic, gentrification and too many people. I deserve more than grey concrete and my dog deserves more than a postage-stamp piece of grass masquerading as a park!”

So you pop your city home on the market, and move to where the grass is, apparently, greener. If you’re lucky, there’s a bit of ocean blue, too.

Your friends and neighbours promise to visit, and you visualise your new dining room filled with your (no longer) nearest but still dearest, all drinking wine made from grapes that ripened just five kilometres away, and eating free-range ham, goats cheese and olives all sourced from your new neighbours.

But is it time to wake up and smell the (city) coffee? Just how successful is a sea change, or tree change?

“Once you move out of town you never go back!” says public relations manager Tara Bishop. She says this despite it taking four years to “defrost” her local Bottle O shopkeeper on the Mornington Peninsula and actually get a smile back.

She moved from the CBD to near Rye and loves it. But does she know anyone who’s given up and gone back? “No. They all love it. They’re happier, their kids are happier,” she says.

A place in the country, such as this Castlemaine home, has always had its appeal for many people.

Sam Rigopoulos, director of Jellis Craig in Northcote and Rob Waller, director of Waller Reality in Castlemaine, may both lay claim to coining the term “North Northcote” for regional Castlemaine, but they agree on one thing; those who move from the city to the country don’t come back. They are, according to both agents, happy.

“The only ones that really stick in my mind that didn’t work out were when relationships broke up,” says Waller. “And maybe the odd few where they had to move to climb the ladder at work.”

In fact, Waller sees treechangers acting like magnets. “If you look at couples we sold to, you’ll see that two years later you sold to their brother and sister, and then mum and dad will make an appearance, too.”

We tracked down Helen Bodycomb, who, in 2009, told The Age she and her husband were joining the exodus from Northcote to Castlemaine. Update: they held onto their Northcote property until two years ago, realising they would never go back. “We initially thought we’d be here for a year,” she says now. “I was more keen coming here, but after two weeks, my husband said he didn’t want to leave.”

Still, if things do go awry, buying back into the city isn’t so straightforward, and Waller has seen treechangers get stung. “Years ago they’d sell the house in the city and buy something here, travel the world and buy a new car. Then maybe something would happen health-wise, or they’d want to come back to be near the grandkids, and they’d find they couldn’t come back to where they’d come from,” he says.

Waller says people are being smarter with their money. “Now, if they sell a four-bedroom house in Camberwell, they will buy a country property in Castlemaine and simultaneously buy a townhouse in Fairfield, Kew or Richmond,” he says.

Long-time Northcote residents Jules Bondy and Meghan Anders and their two children attempted to move to Castlemaine over a decade ago, but failed.

“I set it up so our Northcote house would be auctioned one hour before the house in Castlemaine,” Bondy remembers. But no one bought the Jessie Street property. There were no offers, so I couldn’t bid and it was sold at auction. That was bad,” he recalls. Ten years later, a now renovated Jessie Street is hitting the market.

“The draw to the north may have ebbed slightly but it never really left. We saw this gorgeous property, like a dream house, not in Castlemaine, but in Mount Macedon – it’s the new Castlemaine!” he jokes.

Bondy, a public servant, will continue working in Melbourne, and is expecting a 48-minute commute on the train to the CBD, while Anders, a primary school teacher, will look for work closer to her new home.

Anders is Melbourne born and bred, but has long dreamed of moving to the country. “Making the leap now has given us such a deep sense of being alive!” she says, though admits the hardest thing will be losing the proximity to friends and family, and the cinema.

Source: Domain article by Jayne D’Arcy

45 Hunter Street Castlemaine

The current owners of 45 Hunter Street (click this link to view web feature) bought this home in 2006. When they arrived the garden was mainly grass, a couple of daisy bushes, some large pink roses down the drive and some large trees. Coming from a farm in a drought ridden region of NSW they were keen to establish a soothing garden with lots of hardy green and colourful flowers. What we see today is a credit to their knowledge of gardening and hard work. This is a garden that has been featured in The Hedge Garden Festival in Castlemaine and been included in organised walks from the Buda Historic House and Garden.

The spacious, comfortable family home may be said to have grown and spread, while retaining original features. It is a place where there are spaces to live and daydream. It has a diaphanous quality, but not just because of the landscape windows that soak in the diverse shades of the surrounding green. It is a house that breathes and seems infinitely extensible, yet at the same time has a coat of armour to shield her inhabitants from the world beyond the boundaries.

Take the time to seek out the diverse spaces. Find the divine ‘Rapunzul’ bedroom overlooking the back garden! Seek out the view from the back verandah, explore and find the downstairs room that serves so many purposes and stop for awhile to feel the energy of the main living area.

This is a much loved home seeking to draw those who will love her and the garden that envelops her.

What Homebuyers Look For

KHov_peoriaThere are plenty of views about what home buyers are looking for 


Dwell Beautiful

Michelle McKinnon writes about some of the obvious features to promote when selling your home, but you might be surprised by some of the things buyers are looking for.

Home buyers usually have a list of key features in mind when they start hunting for a home.

And while sellers know it’s important to play up key features such as a swimming pool, many vendors neglect to emphasise some of the more mundane things home buyers look for.

So we’ve compiled a list of seven things home buyers most want, based on a survey we conducted late last year to uncover what home buyers get a second opinion on.

It shows that while 73 per cent of buyers put price at the top of the list and 65 per cent prioritise location, many other elements make it a home worth purchasing.

1. A second living area

Living space is paramount in the modern home, so make sure your real estate marketing mentions any extra living space you have, even if it’s only a small sunroom.

Frank Valentic of Advantage Property Group, who has judged renovations on the Nine Network’s program The Block, says open-plan living is highly sought after by home buyers.

“This is particularly the case for families who have children, who are seeking enough space to allow children to play in a separate area,” he says.

2. Renovated wet areas

A renovated bathroom and kitchen are paramount. Renovated kitchens particularly give real bang for your buck.

Valentic says a large kitchen with wide bench space is very important. “Kitchens are double the size they were 10 years ago. Home buyers want a huge amount of space and modern amenities in the kitchen.”

3. Outdoor entertaining

Most buyers would like an outside area that flows well from the indoors. Soft furnishings such as waterproof cushions in the outdoor space can make it homely and comfortable.

Valentic adds that the seating area needs to offer protection from the sun. “Outdoor entertaining areas are always well received by home buyers,” he says.

4. Natural light

Don’t underestimate how beneficial natural light is when you’re selling your home, so make sure you play up this feature.

Such features include a north-facing orientation if you have it, and skylights or other natural light sources.

Chris Teakle, director of Melbourne’s Prime Estate, says a northerly aspect that allows in plenty of natural light is highly sought after. “A light and bright home is a huge selling point, no matter who the potential buyer is,” he says.

5. A backyard

Having enough space in the backyard to kick a football around is the great Australian dream. Teakle says most buyers ask about the backyard size before committing to an inspection.

“Some grass under foot and a bit of space to play with kids outdoors is what everyone wants,” he says.

6. Storage

You can never have too much storage so remember to mention all your home has. This includes built-in wardrobes, space under a staircase, in your kitchen, bathroom or outdoors.

“I’ve never had a client complain of too much storage, so make sure you play up this feature,” Teakle says.

7. Decent-sized bedrooms

Bedrooms that offer built-in storage and enough floor space for a reasonable amount of furniture will be well received by buyers.

Teakle says: “Everyone wants to know that there’s enough bedroom space for kids to be able to play in their room. So if you’ve got decent space, make sure you play this feature up.”

What do you think are the essential features of a property? Tell us in the comments below.

Thinking of Selling in Winter

Regardless of the time of year you decide to sell, there are some absolute must-dos:

  • Thoroughly clean your property from top to bottom – inside and out
  • Trim overgrown gardens; remove weeds and dead growth and refresh garden beds with mulch
  • Address any off-putting maintenance issues, such as peeling paint, worn or marked carpets, cracked tiles, dirty grout and loose or rusted gutters (if you’re selling a knockdown or “renovator’s delight”, this step often isn’t necessary)
  • Banish any pet smells
  • Furnish the home in an attractive but not overly cluttered or personal way, to give potential buyers a perspective on room sizes and to present the home in its best light
  • Pay for professional photographs and good marketing
  • Choose an inspection time that will maximise daylight.
  • For chilly spaces, ensure you pre-heat the property to a comfortable temperature. This is the time to take advantage of that lovely open fire if you have one!
  • Consider baking to circulate a pleasant smell and to use the oven to warm up the place. This is the only time when baking is advised.

The only time when it’s a bad idea to sell in winter is if the garden is the only highlight of the property.

Opening up Small Areas

small patio design ideas 1You don’t have to renovate your home or add on rooms to make it bigger. Instead, there are plenty of ways to make small areas seem larger than they really are. This will come in handy when you’re ready to sell your home and want to impress buyers.

Here are some ideas for opening up small patios. Meanwhile! In the house you can

  • Hang mirrors. Having mirrors on opposite walls makes rooms appear more spacious. It’s also a good way to reflect more light into the room to make it brighter, which can also make it seem larger.
  • Paint. Painting the walls can make a room look more open when you stick to cool tones or white. Another paint tip is to have the crown molding painted the same color as the ceiling to make the room seem wider.
  • Put in bay windows. Having bay windows installed provides a room with a little more space and a lot more natural light. The added square footage and sunlight will give it a roomier feel.
  • Choose furniture wisely. Keep furniture in smaller rooms simple, so it won’t take up valuable space. Look for taller pieces when buying dressers, entertainment centers or shelving units. These can make your ceiling appear higher, which makes the room itself look larger.
  • Go with streamlined cabinets. Kitchen cabinets with simple lines make rooms look less cluttered than ones with ornate designs. You can make a kitchen look even larger by putting in stainless steel appliances, which provide reflective surfaces.

Opening up small areas in a home doesn’t require a big budget or tons of time. With these ideas, you can easily give your home a more spacious look.

Steeped in Harcourt History

I found a nest in the skeleton of ivy
A soft nest of country moss and dream herb

Reservoir Road Harcourt

Cairn Warren encompasses a comfortable family home (click this link to view web feature on Cairn Warren) and land upon which to explore and find nooks and crannies. Sheltered by Mount Alexander and tall pines on the northern and southern sides this fertile land has provided for generations of settlers who have come to Harcourt.

The house and the surrounding property have high significance for their association with the beginning of the fruit industry in Harcourt. The industry became important not just on a local level  but on a state level. The site is also a very early example of land selection in the  shire and its location with access to Mount Alexander’s streamlets and springs provide a reliable source of water supply well before the introduction of the Coliban Water Scheme.

This fertile land has a long history of producing a rich bounty of vegetables that the original owners sold to miners in Chewton. The orchards that they planted are all but gone now although some very old, gnarled pear trees survive, a reminder of the days when his was a productive orchard.

The current owners have planted prolifically and the beautiful gardens have the feel of a Botanical Gardens. This is a place where you can enjoy the awakening of spring, the colours of autumn and have a love affair with the land and the mountain that shelters it.

The Right Agent


The owners of this property in Barkers Creek met Nick Haslam when they were inspecting other properties in the area. It was Nick’s proactive approach and the sense that it would be possible to build a working relationship with him that prompted them to sell their Barker’s Creek property through Waller Realty rather than another agent who they had considered using. Nick proved to be the right agent for them.

Nick HaslamNick met all their expectations and they really appreciated that he quite literally kept them in the loop at all all times. They were particularly impressed with Nick’s understanding of the value of their property and his insight about who would be drawn to a property which, in their words, was ‘off the grid, up a bush road’! Nick only encouraged people, who he genuinely believed would be a match, to inspect. The owners were very grateful that he did not waste everyone’s time.

If you are looking for an agent who you will give you a realistic value, work with you and respond to your individual needs then Nick is an agent who has developed an impeccable reputation in and around Castlemaine. Do not hesitate to contact him if you are interested in buying or if you are seeking an appraisal for your property.


Selling in Autumn

autumn_houseSpring is traditionally a busy period for the real estate industry – but did you know you’re actually more likely to sell your property in autumn?

It’s popular opinion that spring is the best time to sell your home, explains Luke Woollard, director of Pilot Estate Agents in Mornington, and for good reason.

“After the doldrums of winter, it’s believed that there are plenty of home buyers out there, which will result in lots of competition for your home,” he says.

The reality, however, is that spring doesn’t always bring with it a fresh supply of willing and eager homebuyers. continue reading 

More Tips

How to Sell a Home in Autumn
How to sell in Autumn

Meet Brett Tweed

Brett TweedFrom the moment you meet Brett Tweed you will instinctively know that this is a man who not only loves working with people but who has significant interpersonal skills. Given Brett’s background as a farmer, newsagent and real estate agent it is not surprising that he has developed skills which are so invaluable in the Real Estate industry.

Brett grew up in Bendigo. After completing a degree in Agricultural Science he worked with the Department of Agriculture in Bendigo and Echuca. His farming experience is diverse. He was a dairy farmer in Tongalla and ran a beef and sheep farm at Hawkesdale.

Brett has worked in Real Estate for fifteen years. He worked for Landmark Harcourts Bendigo as an agent and auctioneer for ten years, specialising in rural lifestyle, broadacre, clearing sales, residential and commercial properties. Prior to Landmark Harcourts Brett worked for Sandhurst Real Estate in Bendigo for five years.

Brett and his wife Ann, a local artist, moved to Castlemaine from Sutton Grange to be a part of a smaller community. They have three daughters and three grand-daughters.

Brett is a welcome addition to the team at Waller Realty. If you are seeking an experienced, personable, professional to guide you through selling or buying do not hesitate to contact Brett and see the difference he can make for you.

Live Intentionally at Murrnong

Living a simple life certainly requires intentionality. Don’t just drift through life! Live intentionally and on purpose!
Becoming Minimalist


Many of us go through our days awake, but following patterns we’ve developed over the years. We are going through the motions, doing things at home, online, at work without much forethought.

Contrast this with the idea of an Intentional Life: everything you do is done with consciousness, fulfilling one of your core values (compassion, for example). Everything is done with a conscious intent.

What if you were very aware of your intentions? How would that transform the action, and your life?The idea for Murrnong arose nearly a decade ago when Carolyn Neilsen and her partner Dean returned from a stint working in El Salvador. Something in the cooperative movements they witnessed over there inspired them to buy land with other people.

The people who have responded to their clear intention now call Murrnong home. They have chosen to live in a community setting .

This home at 39a Lawson Street is for sale (Click this link to view web feature) It is looking for someone who makes a lifestyle choice and wants to live here, benefit from the community yet retain the privacy associated with being at the rear of the property.

Innovative Point of Difference

At the door of the house who will come knocking?
An open door, we enter
A closed door, a den
The world pulse beats beyond my door
Pierre Albert Birot


According to the owner of Wimereux  this highly individual web feature  was an innovative and interesting way to showcase his home and extend the reach of advertising.

He felt that by providing this option Wallers provided “a very clever point of difference” to other real estate agents.

Take the time to check out some web featured properties and you will see, not only the potential, but how each treatment shows the insight and depth of understanding that Heather Blakey, the web designer, has of each property.

Consistently Personable and Professional

When it comes to selling one’s most valuable asset it is very important to have the right professional working with you. Waller Realty is, without question, the biggest real estate firm in Castlemaine and some people wonder if, because of the size of the operation, they may not get the personal attention they would like.

However, speak to the owners of these two properties and any such fears will be allayed. Both vendors felt that Liz Bell took the time to understand their properties and their personal needs and that her personable approach made all the difference. They all felt confident that she was working for them and that she had their interests at heart.

It is very evident that no matter the property value the feedback about Liz Bell’s work is the same. These vendors will tell you that she is totally professional and that her manner not only instills confidence but removes any stress. Aside from being impressively personable a distinguishing feature of Liz’s work is that goes out of her way to understand properties and to respond to individual needs.

At the end of the day, it is not about the size of a company it is about the personal touch, the depth and range of experience of the agents who work at Wallers.  It is a “terrific, professional operator” like Liz who will remove the stress and make the whole process as smooth as possible.

Liz is well known for her professionalism.  If you are after a professional, personable approach towards the sale of your property please don’t hesitate to contact her and see the difference she can make for you.