Home sweet home
In 1991, Colin and Patricia Mitchell obtained a home loan through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (previous administrators of the Home Ownership Program) and agreed to spend the next 28 years repaying it. To ensure they could make their home loan repayments, the couple sold the car they had bought under a hire-purchase arrangement a few years earlier.
For the next 20 years, Colin and Patricia drove a 1974 Valiant. The couple’s four children were not happy about the car, especially as they became older and started to care about such things. But the number one priority for the Mitchells was always their home loan commitments.
‘Our philosophy was to pay early, pay a bit more … it all adds up,’ says Colin. Last year, the couple realised exactly how much their sacrifices had added up, when IBA advised them that their last home loan repayment would be in 2010 instead of 2019. In November 2010, they became outright owners of their home.
Colin and Patricia believe the reward of owning their home outweighs the struggles they faced along the way. ‘It feels so good to own our home after many years of keeping to a strict budget, which didn’t allow for going out much,’ says Patricia.
For 15 years after the house was purchased, Patricia provided home-based childcare to supplement the family income, which made a big difference to the couple’s ability to meet their home loan repayments. The opportunity to raise their four children in a home of their own provided the family with much-needed stability.
The couple say their decision to purchase a home requiring minimal maintenance, in an area less likely to flood (despite living in a flood-prone town), has also paid off. Over the past 20 years, they have kept the home well maintained and avoided any major renovations. The dwelling is clad in HardiPlank and the original paint job is still in good condition. After paying off their home loan, the couple now have some breathing space to consider their options—which may include internal renovations—before they retire.
Find out more about IBA’s Home Ownership Program.