Twist in heartwarming story of grandma’s discounted house sale to hopeful young couple

It was the feel-good property story of the year that showed money isn’t always everything.

When Brisbane first homebuyers Madeline Pyke-Moran and Josh Cawse found the house of their dreams in September after a long and fruitless year of searching, they decided to add something special to their expression of interest.

“I just wrote that I’d love to live in the house and take care of the beautiful garden,” Ms Pyke-Moran said of the couple’s offer for 10 Merrell Street in Holland Park West.

And even though their offer wasn’t the highest on the table, that personal touch was what sealed the deal for the owner, octogenarian Rosemary Bartlam, whose late husband Edward bought their brand-new house back in 1959.

Rosemary Bartlam with first-time home buyers Madeline Pike-Moran and partner Josh Cawse who say they intend to live in the house and maintaining the yard. Picture: Supplied

Rosemary Bartlam with first-time buyers Madeline Pyke-Moran and partner Josh Cawse. Picture: Supplied

Ms Bartlam was less concerned about the profit she would make, after more than half a century of living there, than she was in saving her beloved family home from developers’ bulldozers.

Her priority was seeing it preserved for the creation of someone else’s happy new memories. So, the $705,000 bid by Ms Pyke-Moran and Mr Cawse wasn’t the biggest, but it was easily the best.

“It was just insane, all of the stars aligned,” Ms Pyke-Moran said.

The couple’s offer for Rosemary’s home wasn’t the biggest, but for her it was by far the best. Picture:

The story of the sale touched hearts around Australia, going viral on Facebook where it reached 3.4 million people and inspired thousands of comments, likes and shares.

Now, three months later, the couple is settling in and working on their renovation plans – with the enthusiastic involvement and help of the former owner, who has downsized to a nearby villa.

“We haven’t done that much yet,” she said.

“We removed one of the internal walls between the kitchen and the dining room, and that was something that Rosemary really wanted to do.

“We’ve been living in the place and trying to come up with our future plans. We’ve had a little bit of help from an interior designer, trying to change the orientation of some of the rooms.”

Along the way, the pair have shared their thoughts and dreams for the home with their new friend, Ms Bartlam.

“We’ve gone to visit Rosemary quite a bit to show her our plans and she’s been a great help because she lived there so long and knows the house so well. We were a little nervous about showing her to begin with but she’s awesome – she loves all of our ideas.”

Selling agent Roger Carr from Atlas said it was “very, very rare” for such a close bond to form between seller and purchaser.

“When they met, it was really quite emotional,” Mr Carr said.

The young couple has been getting advice and feedback about their reno plans from the former owner – and their new friend. Picture:

Because of Covid lockdowns, Ms Bartlam started to get flustered ahead of settlement day because she was having trouble organising removalists to move her belongings.

So, the new owners of her home stepped in, with Ms Pyke-Moran and Mr Cawse helping to load Rosemary’s furniture before they moved in their own.

“It was quite emotional for her but it wasn’t a problem for us because we could move in anytime,” Ms Pyke-Moran said.

As for the beautiful garden that brought these kindred spirits together in the first place, she has already kept to her end of the deal.

Of special value to Ms Bartlam is a camellia tree that took pride of place after it was transplanted from Edward’s parents’ home more than 60 years ago.

“She wanted to be able to come by the house and still see it. But better than that, we’ve also given her some cuttings from it so she can start a garden with it in her new place.”

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