No one approaches a property purchase lightly. Most buyers do plenty of due diligence – from joining the crowd at auctions to attending multiple open-for-inspections and inspecting the paperwork.
Nevertheless, our emotional investment can sometimes threaten to compromise our financial one. House-buying is – as we know – often about buying a dream.
With that in mind, here’s a list of the things you must do before you buy.
First, understand all the costs
On top of the purchase price, you will pay stamp duty and state government fees, as well as legal fees. If your mortgage is more than 80 per cent of the value of the house, you will need to factor in lenders’ mortgage insurance.
Also consider the costs of moving, connecting utilities, and council and water rates (and strata fees for apartments and units).
Get a building inspection
This should never be considered optional. A professional inspection can reveal issues that might are invisible to the naked – and untrained – eye.
Fundamentals such as roofs, plumbing and electricity are costly to replace, so it’s important to know the condition of the existing work.
Inspect with your head, as well as your heart
Use all your senses when inspecting the property. Checking for smells is a straightforward way to assess the likelihood of mildew and stale cigarettes.
Feel the temperature and investigate the insulation: heating and cooling are fundamental to comfort and expensive to replace or install.
Touch and turn on everything that moves, including light switches and taps. This will highlight any potential problems and give you an overall sense of the vendor’s quality of care for the property.
Enzo Raimondo, CEO of view.com.au, said it was a good idea to take an experienced friend or family member to an inspection.
“They can often point out areas that you may have missed in the relatively short period of time you have,” he said.
“Most importantly, what is the condition of the property? Keep an eye out for cracks and any movement, the condition of fixtures, how air is circulated through the home. If it is an older home, look out for signs of rising damp or mould.”
Listen to ambient noise – are you near a busy road or freeway, a train line or trams? Sydney buyer’s agent Amanda Segers, from Amanda on my Side, said a busy road can be a big obstacle.
“If [you] need to sell in a quiet market, the busy road address will create a property that gets [anything from] a slight discount to a property that might need heavy discounting just to get buyers in the door,” she said.
Move on to the feel-good factors
Knowing the area you want to buy in might seem obvious, but plenty of buyers focus on the house more than the neighbourhood.
It is vital to consider your family’s future needs. Is the property close to work, or the public transport to get you there? What about your children’s schools?
Then, allow imagination to kick in. Can you see the kids playing in the garden? Is there a place for your favourite hobbies? Does the floor plan work for your family? Does the house have the capacity to grow with you if you don’t anticipate moving again?
The X-factor is a big part of the equation. Does the property have the attributes to make you happy? For many people, this comes down to light, views and atmosphere.
There’s still cause for optimism if you do fall for an ugly duckling. Buyer’s agent Claire Corby, from Capital Buyers Agency in Canberra, said most problems could be fixed.
“Most aspects can be overcome; double glazing for traffic or noisy neighbours, adding windows to capture more natural light, clever planting to hide poor outlooks, a good scrub and a deep clean to remove odours are all solutions,” she said.
“It depends what the problems are, and on the discount. Resolving the issues without overspending is the name of the game.”
For more advice on preparing for a house purchase, visit the Real Estate Industry of Australia.