You guys! I’m so thrilled to finally be able to share our big news with you. And when I say big… I mean BIG.
Many of you tuned in for the live reveals on social media yesterday, so you are already in the loop. (Heaps more deets and pics to come in this post though!!)
But for those who missed it, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. Our very special news is that we bought a block of land.
And not just any block of land.
It’s just under 4 acres of magic on the Capricorn Coast in Queensland, Australia, with 180° sea and island views.
I mean – how stunning are those views??! I’m still pinching myself!
If you missed the live streams, you can still see my Facebook Live video right here. You should hop over and take a look – I walk you all around the land from top to bottom, so you can get a really good feel for how it all flows together.
Plus it was so much fun seeing people commenting from literally all over the world – everywhere from the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Lithuania, to South Africa and of course Australia. It’s the first time I’ve done a FB live, but I think I’m hooked! I just loved the sense of immediate connection with all of you. ?
So – let me tell you the story behind our dream land! It is quite a story. It was a bumpy road to get here, filled with lots of unexpected ups and downs… and an outcome in the end that was nothing short of miraculous. Looking back, I can see God’s hand all over it!
When we first moved to this area on the coast (3 years ago now!) it was supposed to be temporary. Our previous home was being used as a display home, and we had three small children at the time, who of course would have sabotaged any efforts to keep the place looking pristine.
So, we decided to move out for a couple of months. Hubby’s company owned a holiday rental property at the beach that we could use, so we made the move to this sleepy little seaside community 40 minutes away – with no intention of staying there any longer than we had to.
Ironically, we’d been dreaming of a sea change for a really long time. But we’d already decided we were going to move to the Sunshine Coast (about 7 hours south of where we currently live.)
We were very serious about this move. We had the kids enrolled in school down there, we’d done their admission interviews and told their current school they wouldn’t be back the following year.
But despite several trips down there to look for land and try to settle on an area to live in, nothing seemed to open up for us. We’d basically decided we would just have to move down without any set plans, and find someplace to rent for a while until we found our feet.
Of course, that level of uncertainty sounded exactly like hell to this forward-planning gal. But we didn’t have much choice – we simply had to be there by the start of the new school year.
In the middle of all this, we’re living in this “temporary” home on the coast, just 40 minutes away from the city we were so keen to escape from. And my husband said to me one day, “Babe, you have to come check out this land down the road.”
Turns out, the developer of the estate we were living in had recently gone into receivership (foreclosure for my U.S. friends) and so there was LOTS of vacant land popping up for sale all around us. And it was all predicted to sell for pretty cheap.
That’s when I first laid eyes on this little slice of paradise.
This is the exact view you see with both feet planted on the ground, as snapped by my iPhone. Here I am standing in the middle of a flat piece of ground the size of a football field.
It was utter love at first sight. My jaw actually dropped. The views were the most breathtaking I’d ever seen. We both looked at each other. I knew straight away that we were both thinking the same thing.
Why on earth were we moving to the other end of the state for a “sea change”, when this was in our own backyard all along?!
We started to talk. I mean, seriously talk. Being a property developer, my husband has his finger on the pulse, and he got the lowdown for us right away. All the remaining land in the estate was open for tender – but the tender period was about to end in 2 weeks.
2 weeks to decide our entire future.
It was hard to get our head around – the shift in perspective had been so sudden. For years, we’d talked about our move to the Sunshine Coast. It had been our dream, and we were right on the verge of making it a reality.
But then again, we both had the feeling that this might well be a once in a lifetime opportunity. We knew we’d never be able to afford land like this on the Sunshine Coast. In such a popular area, if such a parcel of land even still existed, it would be priced waaaay out of our reach. (We aint no millionaires.)
Not that we knew how much the receivers wanted for this land. We literally had no idea. I guess that’s what allowed us to daydream about it in the first place. We couldn’t help wondering – what if we COULD afford this?
After a lot of talk, we decided to put in an offer. We figured that if it was accepted, we would stay. If we didn’t get the land, we’d consider it a closed door, and we’d move away after all. No harm done either way – right?
Oh boy. Little did we know then what we were in for.
Stephen didn’t waste any time digging into his due diligence. He found out all the details of the land we’d fallen in love with. It was originally intended as part of the next stage of the estate, with master plans to divide it into 14 house blocks. Right now, it was nothing but a hill completely overgrown with waist-high grass, where people dumped their junk. There was an actual armchair sitting amongst all the grass. It was raw land, too – no power, sewer, or water.
He also learned that there were some major players in the tender game. A couple of really big developers were sniffing around the area. The rumour was that they were looking at buying out all the remaining land at a bulk discount. There was also a syndicate of locals who were looking into pooling their funds to do something similar.
Basically, we were completely outgunned from the start. It seemed almost impossible that we, with our limited resources, would even be able to compete. It was like David vs Goliath.
To complicate things further, the more Stephen crunched the numbers, the less he could justify spending a lot of money on this land. The cost of subdividing, building a road, and adding power, water and sewer is quite significant. (He’s done subdivisions with his company, and we’ve done it once before on our own as well.) So whatever price we offered would only be a fraction of the total figure it would actually cost us to finish the land.
In such a quiet market, Stephen knew that we could quickly find ourselves in over our heads – where the re-sale value of the finished land might be less than what it actually cost us to develop. There was a reason the previous developer had gone bust here, after all.
So, after hashing and rehashing the figures, he came up with an offer that sounded ridiculously low. But, all things considered, it was all he could see this land being worth in its raw state.
We submitted the offer – and then the tense waiting game began.
Pretty much every day, we drove up to that block and prayed over the land with our kids. I knew the whole thing seemed so unlikely. So impossible, even. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were standing at a door of destiny. So, we prayed. We prayed and prayed that the bank would accept our offer. The kids got really good at it. They all took turns. It was our daily habit.
The receivers took an excruciatingly long time to comb through the various tenders. Months went by. I became more and more nervous. Our next move hinged entirely on the answer to our offer. The school year was drawing to an end, and we had to start getting things in place to move away if this opportunity didn’t eventuate.
But the silence on the other end was deafening. No one seemed to know what was going on. We were dealing with a local agent, who was dealing with an agent for the receiver, who was located at the other end of the state. It was like a game of Chinese whispers.
Stephen tried valiantly to squeeze information from our agent and push for an answer to our offer. But the agent seemed almost as out of the loop as we were. It seemed like the receivers themselves couldn’t decide what to do next. And meanwhile, we were kept dangling at the end of a rope of uncertainty.
The clock kept ticking. School finished for the year. My anxiety flared. I started having panic attacks, which I’d never experienced before in my life. We simply HAD to get an answer, one way or the other. We couldn’t wait any longer. If we were going to move away, I needed to start packing, STAT. The schools needed to know what we were doing, too. If we were going to stay here after all, we’d have to re-enroll our kids at their old school, but by this stage in the year they were in danger of not getting a place at all if we didn’t act fast.
But despite all the pressure we put on our agent, an answer never came.
In the end, we had to make a decision. Withdraw our offer and move to the Sunshine Coast, as per our original plan… or stay and wait around indefinitely, not knowing whether we were even going to get this land at all.
It was a really tough call to make, I won’t lie. But in the end, we couldn’t shake the feeling that this was an opportunity worth taking a risk on. This land was our dream – and we knew land like this might never be within our reach again.
So we stayed.
One year went by.
It was excruciating. I became depressed. The land waiting-game wasn’t the only factor in that, of course – I was also struggling with infertility at the same time, dealing with the adjustment to a new community, and battling with feelings of worthlessness and failure after pulling back on blogging for a season. In so many areas of my life I seemed stuck in limbo, with no plan and no direction. I no longer had any concept of what the future might hold.
I would have been bitterly disappointed if we missed out on the land, of course, but not knowing was worse. Even with a “no”, we could have readjusted and moved on with our plans. As it was, we felt like our lives had been put on hold with no end point in sight.
Throughout that year of waiting, bits of information leaked out slowly. The other land in the estate was divvied up successfully between the tenderers. Some individual lots sold to individuals. A big developer bought out the balance. Meanwhile, our lot (as well as a couple of other unique blocks) were put in the too-hard basket. As the only raw land on offer, no one seemed to know quite what to do with it.
In hindsight we can see how it might have slipped through the cracks. Being undeveloped land, it wouldn’t have even been on the radar for everyday residential buyers; and any developers like us in the game probably crunched the same numbers we did and figured that with the high-ticket price they’d expect to pay for land like this, plus the development costs involved, this would not pan out as an investment. We were probably unique in that we had the development know-how to complete the land – but we wanted to live on it ourselves, so we were treating it as a residential house block, rather than a straight-up investment.
We finally received a vague indication via our agent that our offer was too low. We crunched the numbers again and put in a slightly higher offer. More waiting. And more waiting. Still no joy. Not even a reply.
We were eventually informed that the receivers had decided to put “our” land back on the market. Another full advertising campaign ensued. Good grief. Stephen kept following up with our agent and letting him know we were serious and ready to make our move.
We put in a third, even higher offer.
Still silence. For months on end.
By this stage, Stephen was pretty pissed off, to say the least. We’d put our entire lives on hold for the sake of this land, and the lack of communication had descended to the ridiculous. No one had even deigned to reply directly to any of our three offers. We’d been well and truly ignored. He finally came to a decision.
“I’ve had enough,” he told me. “We’re re-submitting our original offer. The lowest one. Not a cent more. And this time, we give them a time limit. They have one week to accept this as our final offer, or we walk away for good.”
I swallowed, hard. I couldn’t believe he would be so bold. Who ever heard of making a LOWER offer, when our last two attempts were apparently already considered so low they didn’t even deserve a reply? It seemed like we were doomed to failure for sure now.
But I knew he was right. We couldn’t live like this any longer.
What’s more, it had become a matter of principle for him now. The “big guys” had treated us like doormats for far too long. Now he was going to stand up to them and play hardball.
With my heart in my throat, I agreed. It seemed incredibly risky – like the ultimate bluff in a game of poker. Pretending you don’t care at all, betraying zero emotion, when you really care a great deal. I knew this was the best way to negotiate – completely divorced from emotion – but I also felt sure the game was up. We’d tried our hardest, given up twelve months of forward progress to hang around “just in case”, and now it was all over. Our dream was never going to happen.
Before the week was up, we had our very first official reply from the receivers.
They accepted our offer.
My jaw just about hit the floor in shock. I couldn’t believe it.
My husband is a straight up genius.
In the end, we signed a contract for about $50,000 less than our highest offer.
Dreams really do come true.
Okay. That’s not all. Wanna hear something else that’s completely crazy??
Fast forward another year – and we learn that the developers in the estate who went into receivership, are suing the receivers for selling off their land too cheap. We know this because we’re called on to supply evidence for the case.
(We weren’t involved in any way in the court proceedings, which had nothing to do with us and all ended up settling out of court anyway.)
But in the process of reading through the legal documentation we were served, we learned that our land was being used as a key example of the receivers accepting a way-too-low offer. Why?
Oh, only because it turns out this land was valued at almost 4 MILLION dollars just four years ago.
Like I said, we’re no millionaires. We only paid a small fraction of that. No wonder they ignored us for so long. And if there had been anyone else even remotely interested in the land, there’s probably no way we would’ve even got it.
So we really did get our miracle.
By now it’s probably quite obvious that we’ve been sitting on this news for a while. We always knew it was going to be a bit of a long-term project until we’d be able to build our new home, and I didn’t want to rush into revealing our new land, then have to sit on it for years without anything further happening. It would just be too frustrating for you guys.
The reason we predicted this would be a longer-term project is because there’s a subdivision involved. The land parcel is shaped a bit like a horseshoe that wraps around an existing road, so it made sense to cut off both ends of the horseshoe, so to speak, and sell them as individual house blocks, while retaining 2 acres for ourselves.
The lot plan below shows how it’s laid out. The yellow areas are the blocks we subdivided for sale, while the black area with the number 4 is our block.
Our block is set down from road level, backing onto a hill that acts as a natural boundary between our land and the rest of the house blocks. This gives a beautiful feeling of privacy. On the remaining sides (which is cut off in this image), our land is encircled by another hillside that drops down to a green belt of national park.
Just picture those two green sections circling around to meet in the middle. The ocean is beyond that, with views that wrap around 180° from left to right.
We wanted to build our home without going into debt if possible, so the plan was to complete construction of the subdivision and then sell off as much of the land as we could in order to fund our build. We figured that in a quiet market, it might take a while to sell those blocks.
Well. We were wrong there too. More on that in a second.
The subdivision is now complete, as I showed you in my Facebook Live. (Go have a look if you have a few minutes – it gives a much better sense of how the land is laid out than what I can explain through photos and words alone.)
Construction finished a couple of weeks ago. Here’s the brand new cul-de-sac we built:
You can see by comparing the old and new surfaces, where the old road used to end. Before, the hill dropped off at the end of the road, so there was quite a bit of fill that needed to be brought in to create a level cul-de-sac.
I may be biased, but don’t think there’d be too many cul-de-sacs with a better view than this one.
Hubby has done a spectacular job of getting the marketing together. We decided to call our very special land release “The Penthouse Lots”. Here’s our beautiful billboard:
And some of the other marketing we’ve done… this was a stall we set up at our local fishing expo a couple of weeks back.
We priced the land really competitively. We figured that we bought in a buyer’s market (hence why we were able to get the land so cheap) and we’re also selling in a buyer’s market. We can’t have it both ways. So we didn’t want to be greedy.
Although now we’re wondering if perhaps we priced it a bit too cheap. Ha! The land has only been on the market for a bit over a week, and we’ve already sold three blocks, and a fourth is going under contract this week. So that means that of the six lots, we only have two left on the market.
We’ve been completely blown away by the response. It is SUCH special land, and there really is nothing else comparable in our area. Our blocks are priced a good $100-$200K LESS than anything else with similar views. And by “similar”, well, usually you’d be looking out over rooftops or power lines, instead of a sea of green trees.
It’s also virtually the only ocean view land around here that is flat and ready to build on. Most other sites with views like this, you’re building on the side of a hill. So I can see why they’ve been so popular. There’s pretty much been a constant procession of cars doing the slow drive-by to check out the views and pick up a lot plan.
The upshot of all this? Our plan of building our dream home here is much closer now than we ever expected it would be. What we thought might take a year or more, has happened in the snap of our fingers.
We feel so blessed and thankful. It has definitely been worth the bumpy and winding road to get here. Like I said – God’s hand has been all over it.
I can’t wait to share the journey toward our dream home with you guys. Thank you all so much for reading along with A house full of sunshine through three house moves so far – I have a feeling this is going to be the best one yet.