Sleeping in your car may seem an extreme measure to get a block of land, but that is the extent to which Newcastle couple Mitchell Cook and Gabrielle Lyth were prepared to go to for their first home.
The overnight tactic proved fruitful for Mr Cook, 22, and Ms Lyth, 21, who snapped up a 670 square metre lot in the fifth and final land release of Wirraway near Thornton last Saturday.
Registrations opened at 2pm two days earlier for 36 lots in the Defence Housing Australia development.
“We really liked the Wirraway estate but we just missed on the release before that, which in the end was probably a blessing in disguise because the new release that we did get is much more suited to us,” Mr Cook said.
“We were pretty lucky to get what they class as a parkland block that no one can ever build in front of us. It overlooks the water reserve.”
Mr Cook and Ms Lyth made the decision to buy instead of rent around two years ago and have stayed at their family homes in Cameron Park and Merewether respectively to save for a house deposit.
“We still lived at home with our parents so we were able to knuckle down and save a bit,” Mr Cook said.
“We wanted a bit more financial security in the future to have our own place. We preferred the idea of paying our own house off rather than someone else’s.”
Land in Wirraway has proven popular due affordability as well as its proximity to Newcastle.
“It’s actually quicker to get there from town now than Cameron Park,” Mr Cook said. “At peak hour it can take up to an hour to get home [to Cameron Park]. At the same time up to Thornton it’s about 25 minutes.”
The young couple will buy their lot for $262,000 and will build a home for $340,000. They hope to be in their new digs by this time next year.
The idea to camp overnight in their car was to make sure they got the block then wanted.
“The sale wasn’t until Saturday 9am,” Mr Cook said.
“Thursday 2pm was when the sales consultant was getting there with the register. That’s when you write down your name, what time you got there and what block you’re after.
“But once you put your name down you’re not allowed to leave the site or someone can take your spot.
“I went up every three hours just to check no one was there. Then we went up at about 12 o’clock on Friday and the first person had just got there. From Friday midday we stayed that afternoon and night and were there for Saturday and got the block we wanted.
“It was a bit chilly … but we thought, what’s one night sleeping in a car to get the block we wanted.”
Of the 36 lots available, 17 were secured within the first 30 minutes of the sale.
Wirraway has cycleways, ovals, landscaped parkland, an aviation-themed park with fitness station, half-basketball court and tennis wall.
Seventeen lots of 36 in the fifth and final land release at Wirraway at Thornton were secured within 30 minutes.
Sam Budden, land sales manager at Wirraway, said “locally the market remains strong” despite the market reportedly cooling in Sydney.
“Buyers are choosing to commit to the Hunter as they see demonstrated steady capital growth potential, backed up by increased job creation,” Mr Budden said.
“Families are flocking to secure land in locations that not only offer close proximity to essential transport infrastructure, but also a genuine lifestyle improvement – and Newcastle and the Hunter offers that in spades.”
Project sales manager at Robinson Property Edward Crawford has been involved in Wirraway since 2015 and described Thornton as “a real hotspot for buyers”.
“While we have plenty of locals looking to take their next step on the property ladder, we’ve also noticed an increasing number of buyers moving up from Sydney,” he said.
“We have land available at Wirraway from $245,000, and people are starting to realise they can sell their properties in the outer suburbs of Sydney, buy something up here, and not only have money in the bank, but also a much more appealing lifestyle with an easy commute to work in the Hunter region.”