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Here are some handy tips to think about when buying a property.
1. Start the savings habit early
While most lenders require a deposit of at least 5% of the property's value, bigger is definitely better. A larger deposit may help you to avoid costly Lenders Mortgage Insurance, which is charged when a home buyer borrows more than 80% of the property's value.
Putting a savings strategy in place early on in your financial lifecycle will make it easier to obtain finance and purchase your dream home down the track.
2. Get your finance pre-approved
When it comes to negotiation, property sellers are often attracted to buyers who have pre-approved finance over those who don't . Loan pre-approval lets you head into the purchase process knowing the maximum amount you have to spend on the property, giving you confidence to buy at auction or negotiate on price. It also saves you from looking at places that aren't in your price range.
3. Know what you want
Write down a list of features that the property must have, including the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you require, whether you need a covered garage for your vintage car, or perhaps a generous backyard for your Golden Retriever.
Once you know exactly what you're looking for, you can narrow down the list of homes you wish to inspect. Don't visit properties that don't meet most of your requirements - unless you're willing to spend big on renovations.
4. Save time by using professionals
A mortgage broker can take a lot of stress out of the home buying process. They'll be able to do a lot of the leg work for you and help you understand exactly what is required throughout the home buying journey.
5. Do your inspections
Once you've found the property of your dreams, (or at least one that'll help you on your journey!) it can be a good idea to conduct pest and building inspections.
Professional inspections can give you insight into whether that property is worth buying. If it's not, that simple inspection may save you a lot of pain and money in the long run.
6. Consider surrounding suburbs
If your target suburb is out of a 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.
7. Monitor close to home
If you are looking to buy a property in an area where you're already living, watch other properties that go up for sale. Look at how they're marketed, how well inspections are attended, and in particular, how long they spend on the market.
This will give you a good indication of how the market is doing in your neighbourhood, and should 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, holes 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.
9. Get to know the market
You don't want to run the risk of falling in love with the first property you see, only to find out later that you have paid too much for it. Spend a few weeks on a real estate website and attending open homes and auctions before you start talking to agents. It will give you a better idea of true value in your chosen area and put you in a better negotiating position.
10. Shop around for a great value loan
Your home loan may be the biggest debt you ever have so it makes sense to ensure you receive a great value deal. Compare interest rates - current variables interest rates can vary from 4.49% to 6.63% - that amount can make a significant difference to your repayment costs.
11. Work out what your upfront costs will be
Will you have to pay lenders mortgage insurance? Depending on where you live, there may be stamp duty, plus moving costs and legal fees (such as conveyancing fees). You may also be eligible for a first homebuyer grant, which can help offset these.
12. Be patient
I know, we all want everything now - especially once we've made the decision to buy - but be ready to be patient. Buying a home is important and you want the decision you make to be the right one, so be clear about what it is that you're looking for.
If you're lucky you might find your dream home in the first week - but if you don't then be prepared to keep looking. Buying a home is such an exciting event - good luck with the search!
13. Keep an open mind
More thams than they can count, agents say that buyers will start a search looking for that perfect craftsman bungalow only to find that the features and amenities they crave are in a sprawling mid-century ranch house.
Be open to suggestions from your real estate agent who might show you something you didn't know you would love.
14. Submit your highest and best offer upfront
In markets that are doing relatively well, prime properties often receive multiple offers. There is no time to haggle. Make sure it's a realistic offer and submit it with a list of comparable sales to support it.
15. Don't get emotional
It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and tension of bidding. But you shouldn't move past your predetermined price range, no matter how much you love the house.
16. Be prepared to compromise
To come up with a winning bid, you might have to tailor it to a seller's needs, such as a longer or shorter close. Don't expect sellers to consent to repairs that amount to upgrades or remodels.
And don't lose a house you love over somethings small like carpet, appliances or countertops. It's not these things that will make or break your experience in a house. It's the big things such as layout, size and location.
17. If you don't understand something, speak up
Ideally, your agent will have run through the home buying process and what to expect at the outset of your search. But if you don't understanf any part of the paperwork, process or terminoligy, ask.
So many people whiz through paperwork without understanding what they are signing which can come back to haunt you. Take a deep breath and read through everything carefully.