How Brisbane couple bought $542k home in Indooroopilly By Sarah Sharples

A Brisbane couple in their early 20s followed a strict savings plan for six years to buy their first home. Then they hit an unexpected problem.
How Brisbane couple bought $542k home in Indooroopilly    By Sarah Sharples
Sanjana Dutta and her husband Nick spent six years saving for a house deposit before they even started looking for a place to call their own. 

But the Brisbane couple, who were in their early 20s, had difficulties finding real estate agents who would take them seriously despite having a deposit of more than $100,000. 

“I think it was really interesting during the whole scouting phase. A lot of real estate agents underestimated us because we were so young. We would be shrugged off in a way and I don’t know if they thought we couldn’t afford the places or they wouldn’t take the time to show us around properly,” she told 

“I spent a lot of times going to open homes and being a younger woman there was a lot of bias where they would talk to the male about a lot of the construction stuff and the build of the home.” 

The 25-year-old said they wanted to buy a house under $550,000 so they could access the first homeowners grant and had a goal to save more than $100,000, which Sanjana admits was “difficult to do”. 

Her first professional job was in the events and entertainment industry and the starting pay “isn’t so great”, she said. 

“I moved to Melbourne right after uni for a good six months and that was quite expensive. My bank had one of those saving maximiser's account where you get more interest the more you saved, so I pretty much didn’t give myself any luxuries – it was just the bare basics to spend on food. 

“I found an apartment that was really close to walk to work so I didn’t have to spend money on public transport, I walked everywhere and didn’t have a car and my goal was to save $1000 a month. 

“That was really tough to give up on all those luxury items when you live in a family home and have someone cooking for you and someone buying the food and not being able to go have a drink on a Friday arvo, but I had that goal in mind.” 

Sanjana added she was never a big spender though, saving all her birthday money as a child and popping loose change into a jar, but it was a tougher for her husband. 

“I influenced him in that way I have been saving money for a lot of my life,” she said. 

“He kind of picked up on the let’s not spend money on a luxurious lunch vibe and let’s look at the bigger picture on how much we can save a week. And if we spend money now what do we have to do next time to counteract the drop in savings.” 

The couple’s search for a property went on for a year with no luck until they got a call about a new block of apartments being built in the Brisbane suburb of Indooroopilly. 

But the marketing professional said they were concerned about investing in a property off-the-plan when many apartment blocks in Sydney and Gold Coast had prolific construction problems years after construction. 

“They had roof leaks and structural problems and quite a bit of damage to them and it was outside the insurance period for the developer to do anything and it was one of the massive concerns that it would be us in a few year’s time,” she explained. 

So Sanjana got her sleuthing hat on – looking up the developer’s website to uncover other buildings they had done, how long they had been around for and even went as far as to ring up and find out more. 

“I ended up calling up a building manager for a building that has been around for eight years that the developers had done. I asked questions and told them I was looking to buy off the plan and wanted to understand the relationship between the developer and the client,” she said. 

“It was really positive and they said they were quick to get onto fixing any issues, good to respond to issues and they had seen no problems. 

“Then I spoke to another sales company – not the one I was going to go through – to find out the relationship with the developer and they were more than happy to talk about that as well.” 

he location also helped seal the deal as they didn’t want a long commute and it was 10 minutes from the city, walking distance to the train station and bus, and had a major shopping centre close by. 

“What really appealed to us was the fact there weren’t a lot of dwellings in the complex, there were 17 apartments and five levels and because it was still being built we could have some input into what materials they used for our particular apartment,” she said. 

They ended up purchasing the property in September 2019, putting down an initial $5000 deposit to secure the $542,000 home, before moving in last year. 

“My husband (says) that people are pretty surprised to hear that we own our own home at our age. It’s a proud moment for our parents, and a proud moment for us,” she added. 

But the apartment isn’t their forever home either, with the plan to rent out the place in the future to uni students or young families and use the equity to upgrade to a bigger dwelling.