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The 15 questions to ask before buying a house

home buyers
Should you take the plunge? Answer these queries first. Photo: Getty
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Buying a house in Australia usually means a major financial outlay, so take the time to consider carefully if that house you’ve fallen in love with really will meet all your needs now and into the future.

1. Does it have an all-seasons outdoor living area?

An outdoor space like this one can be used all year round, whether it’s the hottest of summer days or a chilly winter evening. Outdoor living is key to the lifestyle most of us want to live in Australia, so make sure you can make the most of it at your next house.

2. How much upkeep will there be?

Sweeping lawns may look appealing but it’s easy to forget the work that goes into keeping a lawn looking as good as it does during an open-house inspection. If you’re time-poor, a house with minimal garden but plenty of outdoor living space could be the right choice for you.

3. Will it need painting?

Check what the house is made of before taking the leap so you know what you’re in for in terms of maintenance. Just because it looks like it’s made of timber doesn’t mean it is. Modern composites used to resemble timber cladding can dramatically reduce the time needed between repainting.

4. Is there enough space for entertaining?

If you love your new inner-city pad but later discover there’s not enough room to share it with friends, you might find yourself rethinking your decision. A cute courtyard like this one is an appealing solution for this tight space.

5. Can you grow with it?

If you have young children, or are planning on adding them to your household, keep in mind that they won’t stay little for long. Is there a room that can transform from a living room or playroom into a teenage retreat for your fast-growing kids and their friends?

6. Will it date?

With its classic features and street appeal, a traditional home like this one will always be in demand. Will your new house seem as attractive in the decades to come as it does right now?

7. Does the house work with nature or against it?

Maximising airflow and making the best use of natural light, while taking into account privacy, can make your house both comfortable to live in and cost efficient. Think about its eco-credentials before taking the plunge – it’s a factor likely to grow in importance for homebuyers in the years to come.

8. How soon will you have to update the kitchen and bathroom?

Overhauling these rooms can be expensive, so be sure you’ve factored in upcoming costs into your five or 10-year plan. If this is a short-term purchase to take advantage of an area’s likely capital gains, the condition of the kitchen and bathroom is likely to have a major impact on resale value.

If you’re likely to live in it for many years to come, think about whether you want the cost and hassle of redoing the kitchen or whether, like this one, it will last well into the future.

bathroom
Will the bathroom need some tender love and care in the near future? Photo: Getty

9. Are you buying with your head or your heart?

Irresistible features like this garden gate can make us fall head over heels and throw caution to the wind when it comes to buying a home. Loving the home is important before you buy but make sure you’re not blind to any flaws.

10. Which direction does it face?

North-facing homes are clearly the most desirable for that lovely winter sun, but regardless of which direction the house faces, try to visit at a few different times of day before making your final decision. A freezing cold house or one that swelters in the heat of the western sun will be much harder to live in.

11. How safe is it?

Break-ins are part of life in many cities and towns and a ‘Beware of the dog’ sign may not cut it when it comes to deterring thieves. Factor in any security upgrades you’ll need to make to the home before you buy.

12. Is it close to work?

Those who work from home have more freedom to choose where they live, but commuting can narrow the options for most people. Get real about how you’ll cope with a lengthy commute over time before committing or decide if lifestyle trumps practicalities at any cost. If you love going for a surf before work, for example, having to commute that extra half hour just isn’t going to matter.

commute to work
A longer commute can mean less time would the people you love. Photo: Getty

13. What are your rights?

If you’re bidding at auction, about to exchange contracts or need to break your lease in order to buy a house, it will pay to become well-versed in your legal rights. Each Australian state differs in terms of auction laws, cooling-off periods and other regulations, so do your homework before setting out.

14. Can you really afford it?

Skyrocketing city prices mean it’s harder than ever to buy in one of Australia’s urban centres. Build some room to breathe into your budget to cater for rising interest rates, changing life circumstances and unexpected expenses such as roof repairs. Stamp duty, council rates, water rates and energy bills are all important to consider when you’re moving from one house to another, particularly if you’re used to renting and are about to become a homeowner.

15. What’s it worth?

Do your research in the area you’re thinking about buying in. Knowing what the other houses in the street have been selling for is a good indicator of how much you should be willing to pay. Buying a report on a suburb’s sales history and estimated values could be well worth the small outlay.

house
Don’t spend your whole life paying off a house you couldn’t really afford in the first place. Photo: Getty

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