For most people, the purchase of a home is the most significant financial asset they will ever purchase. So it pays to be well prepared. Whether you are looking to buy your first home, upgrade, upsize or downsize, the following ten points will help ensure your choice is the right one for you. Without considering these points, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of an auction or at an open home. Many people have ended up buying the wrong property because they didn’t do their research first to hone in on what they really need and want.
1. Define – When it comes to home buying one size definitely does not fit all. One person’s definition of the perfect home will be very different to another person’s. Start by defining your home-buying parameters. It is a good idea to write them down. Create 3 columns on a sheet of paper – your must-haves, the nice-to haves and the things that aren’t important for you. Use this as a guide when doing your research to narrow down your search.
2. Budget – Work out a realistic budget and speak with your lender or mortgage broker to obtain approval in principle on a loan if you need one. This will enable you to narrow down the number of homes to inspect and ensure you don’t spend beyond your means. It will also allow you to make a firm offer rather than risk losing the perfect home to another buyer because you haven’t organised your finances early.
3. Size – Make a note of the size of the home you need to suit your current circumstances and then consider what will happen if those circumstances change, for instance if your family grows or if one of your children moves out. From there you can determine the size of home (number of bedrooms and bathrooms etc.) you require.
4. Do you want to renovate? Are you looking for a home that requires no work or would you be happy to renovate? If the latter is true, ensure you have allocated a large enough budget over and above the purchase price to complete the renovations, including a buffer for those inevitable hidden costs.
5. Look beyond the surface – When you inspect a home, look beyond the colours on the wall, the floor and window coverings and the decor. These are all things that can be changed to suit your taste for relatively minimal cost.
6. Location – Take a drive around the area at different times of the day. Consider the schools, amenities, open spaces and how long it will take you to get to and from work. Does the location suit your lifestyle at this stage of your life?
7. Neighbours – Great neighbours are worth their weight in gold. Consider knocking on the doors of a few of the closest neighbours to chat about the area and get a feel for the people who live there. If you have a young family, it’s great to be surrounded by other young families too.
8. Building & pest inspection – For the cost of a few hundred dollars, a pest and building inspection could potentially save you thousands if there is something wrong with the property. It will also indicate the property’s true value and give you ammunition for negotiation if you find a defect that you decide is worth fixing if you purchase the property for the right amount.
9. Visualise – Imagine you and your family living in the home. Is there enough storage for all your things? Will your furniture work in the home? Can you see yourself being happy in this home?
10. Trust your gut – Never underestimate the value of a gut feeling. Is your inner voice telling you ‘this is the one’? Or is it urging you to walk away and keep looking? Pay attention to that voice or you may live to regret your final decision.