House Hunting Do’s and Don’ts

Part 4 – House Hunting Do’s and Dont’s

Ask yourself what is really important and then have the courage to build your life
 around your answer
 ~ The Reset

You’ve made it through the first steps of saving your deposit, setting your budget and getting your preapproval. Now comes a huge step – house hunting!

The team at First Choice Home Loans are dedicated to making sure the biggest investment you make in your life doesn’t leave you with buyer’s remorse (yep, it’s a real thing and unfortunately, real estate is not returnable, not refundable and you can’t get a store credit). With that in mind, here are a few key elements to house hunting for that perfect home and finding your happily ever after.

Have an idea what you’re looking for. How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms?  What about land size? Do you need side access? The list truly can go on and on but, once you have an idea, you can inspect homes and compare apples with apples. Why not take our checklist with you.

We know most of you aren’t tradies or building inspectors, but at the first viewing (which will establish whether there will be a second or third), there are a few small things you can do on your own.

  • Run a few taps. What’s the water pressure like? Does the hot water work?
  • Check for cracks in the walls. How old is the house and what is the foundation?
  • Can you see any water internal damage anywhere?
  • What about the roof? Does it look reasonable from the ground? (Please don’t go climbing ladders. Leave that to the professionals!) Can you see any rust or holes? Does it look solid or starting to sag?
  • Here’s one most people forget about – fences! Does the property even have them? Are they in good repair?

Does the property tick your boxes? You have your wishlist, you have your checklist. Now is not the time to fall in love with a property the size of Finland, when really what you want is something with a small garden and a courtyard, all because it has a 6 burner stovetop. Get the idea? If the property you’re looking for needs to be move in ready/nothing to do and not a project home, be mindful of the natural light coming into the home.  Natural light promotes health and vitality, not to mention cuts down on the electricity bills. If it’s a project home, no problem. More light, bigger windows etc. can be part of your grand plan.

Research the area. Are you happy with its location? Perhaps visit the property at a few different times. Any change in traffic flow or noise levels? Hopefully, the area has a low crime rate. Are there any concerns regarding the surrounding areas? Maybe there’s a larger building nearby that will shadow your property Perhaps research any environmental hazards such as risk of bushfires, floods, cyclones and earthquakes. Not only will all these things impact your quality of life, they could also impact your insurance premiums and piggy bank.  

Is the property close enough to facilities for you?  This is still crucial whether you choose rural or residential.  Wherever you next choose to call home, you need to be comfortable with the distances required to get to the facilities that are important to you and your family. If you have children, surely you’d like their school close by or if you live out of town a bus stop to get them there safely. A park or playground might be nice too if a big yard isn’t on your list of wants. How far away are the shops? Whether it’s a 10 minute drive or a 10 minute walk, you really need to be ok with it.

Is the property the right size? Real estate is generally a long term investment so we’re not just talking about now. We’re asking you to think about the future too. Right now, it’s just you and maybe your significant other but, down the track, you might get a pet, or kids, or an in-law, or all of the above. The same goes for downsizing. Whichever way you look at it, the house needs to offer you enough space now and later. We know you can’t always predict these things but a little bit of forethought could make these life transitions a bit easier.  

In most cases, a good solicitor or conveyancer will handle these things but, it’s always worth finding out a bit more from the local council. If no one else has or will, talk to the council and ask about the properties boundary lines being correct and are there any unapproved structures (you’d be surprised how many patios, sheds, pools etc aren’t council approved). You may like to know if there are any building developments in the pipeline for the vacant block next door or if there’s an easement running through the property that might stop you erecting a fence. Ask if the area is in a flood zone. Any one of these factors could contribute to you choosing the next house on the list.

Get to know your potential neighbours. You don’t just live in a home, you live in a neighbourhood. Take the time to check out the neighbourhood while you’re there. Do the homes around you look like they’re well cared for or do you see trouble on the horizon with rubber tyre marks on the road and unkempt front yards?  Ask the real estate agent if the homes in the area are mostly owner occupied or rentals. It might also be beneficial knowing the demographic of your neighbours, whether they’re young families or retirees or something else entirely.  Looking around, you might even see a neighbour who shares a common interest with you, be that gardening or you might notice a car enthusiast. 

Every home will have unavoidable on-going costs. Knowing the extent of these costs will go a long way to ensuring your satisfaction with your investment. Sure, most of us would love a pool to bask beside on those hot summer days with an ice cold beverage in one hand and a good book in the other but, maintenance and running costs on a pool can get expensive. We would also recommend looking into rates, strata fees and getting a few insurance quotes. Even if you’re not moving far, don’t assume your rates or insurance premiums will be the same. Your new house could be considered to be in a storm corridor or a flood zone and these things will certainly affect the on-going costs to you keeping and maintaining your home.

Our last piece of advice is simple. Get a Building and Pest inspection. These people are the professionals so if they find something concerning look in to it before you settle your contract. Having a relaxed attitude regarding their advice could have disastrous consequences and not only cost you tens of thousands of dollars you weren’t expecting to fix the problem, it will be unnecessary stress and effort you and your family didn’t need to expose yourselves to and will ultimately, leave you feeling bitter about the home you thought was the answer to your dreams.

After reading this, you should now be armed with a plan and feeling empowered. You have a general thought about what you want in a home, a checklist to make sure it ticks your boxes and an awareness of things to look out for so you don’t buy a dud.  So, what are you waiting for?  Let’s get house hunting!