Purchasing a home is one of the biggest investments you’ll make in your lifetime.
It’s also the most complex one. Objectively, it makes complete sense to conduct due diligence before you can sign on the dotted line.
A quality purchase takes careful planning and consideration—from prospecting for the right property to understanding your mortgage options as a first-time home buyer. The last thing you want is to buy on impulse only to discover serious defects after the deal is closed.
And the worst thing about buying a home?
Unlike standard products, property purchases don’t have a return policy or a money-back guarantee. Buy a defective property, and your only options are to sell it or live in it for the rest of your life. The good news; you can avoid all these problems by conducting thorough research before committing to buy. Look out for these things when buying your first home in Australia.
1. Location and the Suburbs
You’ve heard it before; location is the most important thing to consider when buying real estate, particularly in Australia.
The last thing you want is to buy a home in an area where you can’t walk alone at night. Check the crime rate of the region you intend to buy property. A simple Google search can populate results of the crime in the area.
You could also get a property report on the area.
A lot of companies, including real estate agencies and lending institutions, offer free property reports to help prospective buyers make informed decisions. This report can give you a breakdown of the suburb and demographics as well as the crime rate in the area.
Next, check for proximity to key areas in the region. If you have kids, you’ll want to buy a house in an area with close proximity to schools and hospitals.
Last but not least, inquire about any pending projects in the area. If major development works are underway, the property price will increase. This can be a good investment, particularly if you plan to sell the property in the future.
2. The Price
Before you embark on your house-hunting journey, it’s important to know your budget, so you don’t waste time viewing properties above your price range.
If you’re considering a mortgage (most people do), you’ll want to know the prevailing home loan rates. Not all home loans are created equal. You need to be sure you can afford the monthly mortgage payments, which will be determined by your income level.
Depending on your unique circumstances, a fixed or variable interest may be applied. Variable home loans are preferable to fixed-income loans because they offer more flexibility. A lending specialist will explain the differences between the two and advise you on the best option.
That said, most lenders will look at your employment status, credit history, residency, and income level when reviewing your home loan application.
3. Size and Features
Size matters a lot when it comes to buying property.
Avoid buying a house with unique features, such as a sauna or swimming pool, if you’ll never use them. When it comes to size, consider a house with an adequate number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Ideally, a three-bedroom house is enough for most families.
But if you have a large family or regularly host overnight guests, having many rooms is justifiable. Remember, while additional rooms and extra floor footage will always come in handy, you’ll have to pay higher energy bills and taxes.
Features-wise, consider the features you’d expect in a modern home. Large windows, open spaces, sliding doors, and a stone exterior can give your home an aesthetic appeal that will wow your visitors. Also, consider a home with adequate natural lighting.
4. The House’s Exterior
Don’t let your focus on interior and property features make you forget the importance of a sturdy exterior. A home inspection is your main defense against buying a house with a deteriorating exterior.
Still, you can keep an eye on red flags by visiting the property in person and leaning on your real estate agent. Here are some key exterior components to check out when buying property for the first time in Australia.
- The Roof – This is a big one, as it can cost up to $11,000 to replace an old, neglected roof. Look for roof damages and any sign of leakage in the house.
- The Foundation – Foundation problems can also be costly to fix. Signs of a bad foundation include cracks on the walls, leaning chimney, nails popping out of drywall, and counters, cabinets, or other static structures separating from the wall.
- Siding – Inspect the exterior wall for any signs of damage or disrepair, including rotting wood, peeling paint, cracks, and any other signs of decay.
The exterior of a house is critical because it improves the property’s curb appeal.
5. The Yard
Another important thing to consider is the property’s yard.
What kind of yard do you want? A big yard where you can build many outdoor structures or a small, beautiful yard?
If you plan to install a swimming pool or build a gazebo, you’ll want a lot of acreage for the yard. But keep in mind that the larger the yard, the more the maintenance work and, consequently, the cost. A small yard, however, comes with low maintenance.
Factor in what you want in a yard before committing to buy. You’ll find properties with a lot of outdoor features—from streams and ponds to patios, decks, and built-in grills. Some will come with a large backyard with no features, so you’ll have to add them once you move.
Buying a house can be overwhelming, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. But with a list of everything you want in a property at hand, plus the help of an experienced real estate agent, the experience can be fun and educational.