5 tips for smarter house hunting
So, you’ve decided to buy a new house, congratulations! Get ready to kiss weekend sleep-ins goodbye, to agonise over interest rates, obsess over new listings and property alerts, and pour over weekly auction results religiously. This may sound like a lot of anxiety, work and sacrifice, but we promise it will all be worth it when you’re living it up in your brand-new pad.
Here are our five top tips to help get you through your next house hunt as painlessly as possible.
Plan, plan and plan some more
First things first, you’ll need to discuss with other members of your household what each of you are looking for in a new home. Do you want a fixer upper or move-in ready? Are you looking for an apartment or a house? What suburbs do you like? Making a list of your wants versus your essential needs can drastically help to refine your search and keep you on track while trawling through pages of online listings. To help clarify your wants vs. needs, put your ideas for your next home into shareable Collections.
Next you need to find out whether you can afford everything you want and need, and decide what you’re willing to compromise on. Book a consultation with a mortgage broker to work out how much you can realistically borrow, whether you need to pay lenders mortgage insurance, what the best loan deal would be for you, to get an idea what your repayments would be and arrange pre-approval.
Once you have a price range in mind, set up property alerts in your areas of interest so you’ll be notified right away when new properties with your criteria and budget come onto the market. Best of all with the Homely app you can add inspection and auction details straight into your personal calendar, so you can plan your weekend in advance and never miss a buying opportunity again.
Do your research
To ascertain the types of properties, and where you can afford to buy, start looking at past sales data and capital growth stats. If you find that your desired location is a bit on the pricey side but has strong capital growth, consider shifting your focus onto neighbouring suburbs. You’ll find areas that are a bit further from the city tend to have slightly lower price points and less competition.
Once you have settled on a handful of suburbs test them out and get a feel of what living there would be like day-to-day to see if it suits you. Take a suburb for a ‘test drive’ by visiting it at different times of day, walking down the main shopping strip, chatting to locals, carrying out a trial commute to work or even have a short stay in a local Airbnb.
If you want a bit more info or if you’re moving interstate and can’t physically check out a suburb hop onto Homely’s Suburb Reviews to see what the locals have to say and how they rate the area.
Inspect with purpose
When you’re looking at multiple properties in a day it’s all too easy for them to start blurring into one and to lose track of the ones you want to seriously consider. Make the most of your time at property inspections by:
- Taking notes and photos on the spot of features you like and dislike, any structural defects, security issues, potential projects and your general impressions of the home.
- Having your wish list handy and checking off items at each inspection so you don’t miss out on any of your essential needs and wants.
- Chatting to the agent about council rates, water rates and body corporate fees so you know what kinds of ongoing expenses you’ll be looking at. Ask how long the property has been on the market, why the owners are selling and whether there have been any offers to see what the level of interest is.
For sale: 52 Kathleen Street, Cottesloe, WA
Pay your due diligence
Undoubtedly buying a house is an expensive endeavour. It’s not just the saving for the 10 or 20 per cent deposit, but the fees it takes just to pay your due diligence before putting in an offer or bid. Prior to bidding at an auction it’s wise to have the Contract of Sale and property title thoroughly checked by a conveyancer for any potential red flags that could jeopardise the sale that aren’t in your best interests.
If you suspect any damage or structural problems within the property or if it’s an older home, you’ll want to arrange a pest and building inspection before the auction so you can bid with confidence knowing exactly what you’re buying. If there are any major defects you may be put off the sale altogether or you’ll be willing to spend less because you know there will be extra costs to fix the issues down the track.
Get professional advice
Talk to a few local agents to gauge what is going on in the market, what kinds of properties are selling, who is buying and how long they typically spend on the market. Let them know what you’re looking for and ask them to contact you when new homes come onto the market that suit your criteria. Read agent reviews, see their sales history and find the best agents in your areas of interest using Agent Finder.
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect of buying a home, seek out the assistance of an experienced buyer’s agent. They can help you search for property, recommend suburbs that are good investments, assess the value of properties, bid at auctions on your behalf, negotiate a private sale and even access off market properties through industry connections.
We hope these five steps put you on track to a less stressful home search and help you to find the house of your dreams. Best of luck!
Larissa Gardner is a blogger, social media strategist and marketing coordinator at
arguably Australia’s best looking, banner-ad free real estate website homely.com.au. With a superb devotion to product innovation, user-centred design and innovative marketing platforms for real estate agents, homely.com.au helps millions of Australians find their next home easier and faster than ever before.