Have a good understanding of what you are looking to purchase before you begin searching for a property.
This will help narrow down your search and avoid buying a property that does not meet your needs. Make a list of:
- Your preferred areas and suburbs;
- Essential features you are looking for; and
- Non-essential features – which will help you to make a choice if there are multiple properties that include your essential features.Before you begin inspecting properties, ensure you have a good understanding of your current financial position. What level of repayments can you realistically afford if you require finance, giving consideration to future contingencies such as interest rate rises, unexpected costs, future plans, possible unemployment, etc. Consider having a discussion with a professional such as a financial planner, accountant or mortgage broker who may be able to provide you with some important unbiased advice in this area.Do your research on the approximate value of a property and research the market before you begin any negotiations. You are able to check sale prices, dates and suburb median prices from various sites that are supplied to the public. If you can find 10 properties in the area that have sold within the past 6 months and are a similar house/block size, this will give you a really good indication of what the home is worth.If you require a mortgage/home loan, work out first how much you would be comfortable borrowing and use a loan simulator to give you an approximation on how long it will take to repay. Make sure you have discussions with various financial institutions to determine your borrowing capacity, you are aware of the interest rate levels and also what products are available in the market, giving consideration to fees and charges and the fine print on any contracts. Seek professional advice in this area if you are unsure.Consider the costs of buying a property, including, but not limited to:
- Legal and conveyancing fees;
- Financial adviser fees and commissions;
- Government charges, such as land transfer duty (formerly stamp duty) and Goods and services tax (GST);
- Loan establishment fees;
- Moving costs; and
- Building and pest inspection fees.
Other ongoing costs to consider, include:
- Loan repayments;
- Utility bills;
- Council and water rates; and
- Land tax (if applicable).
Investigate if there are any concessions available that you may be eligible for, including the first home owners grant or land transfer duty reduction. Speak to your legal professions, financial institution, broker or contact the State Revenue Office.
Never rush or be pressured into buying a property. By doing the necessary research and making an informed decision, this will help you to feel more confident and that you are committing to the right decision.
Ensure you seek good legal advice from a conveyancer or solicitor before you begin negotiations on the property. They will help you to review the contract of sale and mortgage agreements, any additional terms and conditions that you may need to add as well as ensuring that the documents are legally binding to protect your interests. They will also help to alert you to serious problems with a property that could potentially cause the sale to fall through. Some common things to look out for include:
- Illegal additions or renovations to the property;
- Issues with strata management clauses, title deeds and/or legal ownership of the property; and
- Potential state authority rights to the property relating to zoning or future developments to the area.
Things to consider when conducting your property inspection:
- Check the property thoroughly for dampness and mould on skirting boards, ceilings, walls and windows. You can also look out for fresh patches of paint that could be hiding potential problems;
- Investigate the property for structural issues such as uneven doors, window frames and sagging/buckling ceilings or walls;
- Test all taps and fittings to ensure they are in good working order;
- Rate the property on its energy efficiency and sustainability to help avoid costly outlays in the future. There is a 6-star energy efficiency environmental standard for all new homes, renovations, additions and relocations of existing homes. Consider if the property is well insulated, if there are dated heating or cooling systems and if the property has solar power, etc;
- Ensure the hot water service is in working order and run the hot water taps in various sections of the property to see how long it takes for the hot water to come through; and
- Investigate the council rate costs on the property if possible as these can vary substantially and be a very expensive ongoing liability.
If you are interested in the property after your first inspection, you should request a copy of the relevant legal documents, such as contract of sale, section 32 vendor’s statement, titles, plans, permits, etc and begin discussions with your legal professional if you have not begun so already. Make sure you read the property and loan contracts and that you fully understand all the terms and conditions and any cooling-off rights that you may have. Any verbal agreements should be put in writing on the contract or agreement and all the above is fully considered before you sign. If something is unclear, seek an explanation or consider further independent advice.
You should also strongly consider a professional building inspection and soil test. This will check further for potential structural issues with the property, defects with the plumbing or wiring, pest problems, asbestos, soil contamination etc. Please talk to your legal professional, who will be able to advise further on all of these matters.