January, 2023

Lucinda + Tom

Townhouse, built 2000 / 2 bed, 1.5 bath, 1 car

Gadigal Land - Alexandria, NSW

After falling in love with Alexandria as renters, Lucinda and Tom never imagined they’d be able to buy their first home in the same suburb - let alone on the same street.

Living in Sydney’s inner city comes with plenty of perks. With pubs and cafes on almost every corner and a train station never too far away, it’s hard to beat the convenience. 

But residing just 6km from the CBD does come with a hefty price tag. Lucinda, the Founder of copywriting agency Starr Studio, and her partner Tom, a lawyer working at a boutique commercial litigation firm, experienced this first-hand - both as tenants and then, as home buyers. 

Tucked away in the city’s inner south, the pair had called Alexandria home for over five years. It’s a neighbourhood that ticked all of their boxes: leafy, lined with local watering holes and boasting plenty of green space for their Bordoodle, Inka, to stretch her legs. 

Unfortunately, the couple weren’t alone in their love for the area. With demand for inner city properties climbing, Lucinda and Tom were watching home prices and rental rates soar. “We saw so many first home buyers like us get outbid at auction by property investors bidding well over the price guide,” shares Tom.

Even with “a bit of savings” stashed away and (as is becoming an unavoidable reality for many first home buyers) a leg up from their parents, the window of opportunity was closing. “We knew we were on a tight timeline of having to be out of our rental within six months. Otherwise, we’d be paying hundreds of dollars extra a month,” Lucinda explains.

After being “blown out of the water” at auctions and “getting pretty close to giving up”, they engaged buyer's agent Kellie Landrey from Scoutable, as a last-ditch attempt to stay in the area. Within a matter of days, a small townhouse popped up that the pair thought was both “exactly what we were looking for” and “way out of our price range”.

“Kellie encouraged us to go through the process and had this whole strategy for when and how to make an offer.” - Lucinda 

After a very stressful two days of back-and-forth, their offer was accepted. “We never thought we’d buy on the same street as we were renting,” laughs Tom. 

It’s not hard to see why this home ended up being ‘the one’. The townhouse is compact but low-maintenance, with a courtyard out back perfect for Inka to lap up the sun. The best bits of the suburb are on their doorstep, with Tom’s go-to yoga studio around the corner, Lucinda’s favourite Pilates spot down the road and one of Sydney’s biggest dog parks just a short stroll away (usually visited by the couple at 6.30 am with coffees in hand). 

The home also serves as a co-working space of sorts. Upstairs, you’ll find Tom in the spare room leading tutorials while working “casually for Macquarie University, teaching environmental and planning law” alongside his main gig as a solicitor. 

Downstairs, Lucinda has turned the dining table into a pop-up HQ for her copywriting studio. “I didn’t start with the ambition to become a business owner. I literally started freelancing just to make ends meet while I was figuring out what my next job was going to be.”

It’s a scenario many creatives are likely familiar with. After landing a job at a big, fast-paced marketing agency, Lucinda found herself stressed, burnt out and “crying on the way to work multiple times a week”. Only after taking a break during a holiday to Japan did she realise just how desperately things needed to change. 

“I have this memory of sitting at Osaka airport waiting for our flight home and frantically scrolling through LinkedIn for jobs in Japan… that’s how badly I didn’t want to go home.” - Lucinda

Fast-forward four years, and she’s now running a hugely successful agency of her own, managing a growing team and “couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”

While being self-employed was a “bit of a consideration” when securing a home loan, having a team by their side that could walk them through their options was a massive relief for the couple. 

“When I imagined a mortgage broker, I pictured a balding middle-aged guy in a suit. But with Pure Finance, I felt like I was dealing with people like me.” - Tom

From workshopping  purchase numbers to breaking down what upcoming interest rate rises could mean for them, Lucinda and Tom appreciated having “someone who was actually looking out for us, helping us find the best loan for us rather than pushing us into a big loan that offered a big commission to them.”

While their townhouse hasn’t needed any work (aside from adding a doggy door to give Inka free rein of the courtyard), the pair have grand plans “to get solar panels on the roof and an EV charger in the garage.” But in the meantime, they’re happy with this little slice of 2015, just the way it is. 

Lucinda and Tom’s top spots to eat and drink in their new (ish) neighbourhood

Good Ways Deli: for a cheese and vegemite scroll or their Brekkie sandwich 

Genovese Coffee House: for the best triple cheese toasties 

The Alex or the Parkview Hotel: for beers and a classic pub feed

Pino’s Vino e Cucina: for a bougie pasta party

Are you gearing up to buy in an ultra-competitive market in 2024? Here are 10 tips to help you keep your cool when the property market is hot.

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