Discovering a gem and a stepping stone for the future
When Sarah Russell found herself on her own with six-week-old baby Olive, aged just 22, her sole focus was on survival. Buying a home was not even a distant dream.
Yet that is exactly what she has now done, just over three years later!
“I never thought I’d be in this place, in such a steady, loving relationship and buying a house!” says a radiant Sarah.
Back then, realising she would need to work very hard to build a future for herself and her daughter, Sarah and baby Olive moved home with her parents. They had generously agreed to support Sarah as she returned to complete the teaching degree she had previously abandoned after completing the first year.
Alongside studying, she returned to work as a qualified barber, establishing a home salon and building up her client base from 2 regular clients to around 30. She also inadvertently launched a successful catering business after baking all of the desserts for her brother’s 30th birthday party.
“All of a sudden I had orders flooding in from our local community for my personalised biscuits, cakes, floral cup cakes and ‘to-die-for’ brownies!” she recalls, laughing. “And the orders just kept growing!”
All the while, quietly in the background, a special young man was becoming increasingly important in Sarah and Olive’s lives.
“I had actually known Evan since I was 15 and he first met Olive when she was just 10 months old,” Sarah shares. “We started meeting for coffee – he would finish work early to come and meet me on campus.”
The relationship became serious in 2020 as the couple introduced each other to their respective families and started planning to get married and buy a home together.
Evan, who currently runs his own business in transport and logistics, and Sarah were initially focused on building their own home and had been investigating some of the larger estates in the Donnybrook area.
“It was just so overwhelming,” Sarah remembers. “Neither of us had any experience with purchasing property or building and there were so many options.”
“We also needed to act quickly to be able to take advantage of the HomeBuilder grants and there was hardly any land available.”
“We were beginning to think it would be better to buy an existing home when by chance I saw an ad for Donnybrae’s $15K rebate offer and started to investigate what was available here,” she continues.
“I was so surprised – it had the train station and school nearby and it seemed like it would be a nice community. We just felt that it was close to everything we needed.”
Discovering Donnybrae’s Shape Townhomes was the linchpin that secured the deal for the couple.
“We honestly thought the full turnkey alternative was too good to be true,” says Sarah. “We sat down with Liliana [Donnybrae’s Sales Consultant] and it was so simple.”
“We had two colour selections and everything was included – blinds, curtains, security doors, carpet and laminated floors. The only upgrade option we selected was a double vanity.”
“We wanted a low maintenance home and the location is perfect. It faces the park and has easy access to Donnybrook Road.”
Sarah credits Liliana for ensuring they felt comfortable every step of the way.
“Liliana was so relatable. She wasn’t trying to sell us something that wasn’t there. We had been dealing with lots of consultants and we felt they were in it for themselves. Liliana is a mum and understood the importance to us of having a home. She even took us to a display home in Wollert so we would know exactly what we were getting.”
“Other home builders kept asking what we wanted and the list was getting longer and longer and more unrealistic. Liliana helped us to work out what we actually needed and encouraged us to keep things simple and think about our future.”
“This advice and buying this property will be the best stepping stone for our future,” says Sarah. “With all of the grants we were able to access it is just a gem!”
And with construction of their townhome soon to commence, thinking about the future is exactly what this young family is now free to do.
“We are planning to get married in December, just in time to move into our new home.”
“My parents have purchased land just three and a half minutes down the road and plan to build with Carlisle Homes.”
“I will be graduating as a teacher in October next year and hope to get a job in one of the local schools and Evan is about to commence an adult apprenticeship so that he can have greater job security and better working hours in the future.”
But most of all, Sarah is looking forward to moving into her new home.
“I can’t wait to start our own life and build a home around our values and focussing on what we want in our own nest… and to start being a family.”