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8 tips for buying a house that you should know about

By George Hadgelias

When you’re buying a home there’s no denying that there’s a lot to think about, but that doesn’t mean that the process needs to be stressful.

Before you embark on the process there are certain things you need to read up on and familiarise yourself with to make the experience as seamless as possible.

These tips can help you steer in the right direction if you’re considering buying a house in the near future.

1. Don’t believe the hype (good or bad)

When you set out to buy a house, you will likely quickly become familiar with deciphering real estate speak and how people market homes.

The key takeaway here is, do your own research to find out a house, area you like and so on is right for you. Don’t just take someone else’s word for it. .

There’s several tools available to help you discover a suburbs potential.

Our suburb profile pages offer data on most suburbs in Australia.

On these pages you’ll find:

  • median property prices;
  • data showing the impact of interest rates;
  • and the average number of people looking for property in that suburb versus the number of properties for sale.

All this gives you a great insight into the suburbs you’re considering for your next move or investment so you can leap with confidence into the adventure.

A particularly useful insight is supply to demand ratios and trends over time. These give you the bigger picture of a location, and can help you consider the property/suburb’s potential.

What matters is whether it’s your right time to buy, for your needs and circumstances. Knowing the state of play is useful to help you calibrate that decision, but shouldn’t be the only thing that motivates.

2. Visit the location and do some fieldwork

The old property maxim still holds true. But that doesn’t mean inner city rules.

You want a property that delivers what you need now, or enough of what you need that you’re happy to compromise for longer term capital growth.

Be very clear about what matters to you

  • access to major roads;
  • public transport;
  • shopping or entertainment hubs;
  • schools;
  • cultural diversity.

Shortlist suburbs that deliver on those needs.

Do some field work to make sure the suburb’s right for you. Walk around the area you’re thinking of buying in. Grab a coffee, or a meal at the local pub. Pretend you’re already living there and see if distances are what they seem, and atmosphere is living up to expectations.

Of course it will be a little different once you’re moved in, but experiencing it first hand gives you a critically useful taste for the reality of that location.

Look closely at what developments or infrastructure is planned around the area in case your quiet corner is about to become a developer’s haven.

3. Consider surrounding suburbs

If your target suburb is out of budget, consider more affordable neighbouring suburbs.

Before you buy, talk to locals to get residents views on the suburb and its best streets. Reading local publications and connecting with local websites, bloggers or personalities can also give you helpful insight.

If you’re attracted to an area because of its rising value, remember that may spill over into next door suburbs.

4. Look for the upside

Cooler periods in the housing market can be windows of opportunity, so it’s worth keeping an eye on interest rate and market trends.

Some locations are hitting the bottom of a pricing cycle, so there are bargains to be had.

(Hint: use the search filters on realestate.com.au to look for oldest listed first to see which properties may have struggled to get up, and may be amenable to negotiation).

If you’re not ready yet, use Spring to prepare to buy in the quieter months of the year, when there may be less competition for the house of your dreams.

5. Talk to the experts

Talk to local agents to find out what’s happening in the market.

You may not get your dream home right away. It’s ok. Consider apartments instead of houses in the location you are wanting to purchase, they are often more affordable and put you in your desired location. Or you may choose a property that needs a little TLC, but ticks other boxes.

Work closely with your agent to develop an action plan and strategy that meets your goals and needs.

6. Stay up to date and get in first

When looking for real estate bargains, register for realestate.com.au’s property alerts so you are among the first to hear about properties for sale.

Other ways to keep a step ahead include searching via the public trustee, deceased estates and mortgagee sales.

7. Monitor close to home

If you’re looking to buy a property in an area where you’re already living, take a close look at other properties that go up for sale nearby. Look at how they’re marketed, how well inspections are attended and how long they spend on the market.

This will give you an indication of how the market is doing in your neighbourhood and can guide you on the price you should be paying for a property close by.

8. Inspect smartly

Smart sellers naturally stage their homes to make sure they look their best when you view them. You’d do the same.

Remember to look between the lines (or cushions) for issues that might not be immediately obvious. Take along a list of practical things to check – things like adequate power points, hole or cracks. That way, if you fall instantly in love, you won’t suddenly forget to sanity check for possible pain points.

Take notes and get your building or pest inspector to follow up on anything unusual or concerning.

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