Once you have saved up a deposit and are ready to start going to open for inspections, the excitement of owning your first place can sometimes make you forget what you should be looking out for. Finding a place you like the look of is one thing, but doing your due diligence and making sure it’s structurally sound, has plenty of power points and is close to all the things you need to be close to are just some of the things you should be considering before you buy.
Choosing a property near the facilities important to you is generally something many buyers find appealing about certain suburbs. However, if the plan is to live there for an extended time, it’s important to think about your home’s proximity to the essentials you’ll want to be closer to in the future.
If you’re planning on having kids, is the home in your desired school zone? If you decide to sell your car, are you close to public transport? Is being near your local supermarket important for those late-night cravings? Taking these into consideration won’t only make your life easier, but your home will be much more attractive to future buyers whenever you do decide to sell.
Having your heart set on a place can sometimes stop you looking beyond the fence to what the neighbourhood and your neighbours are like. Agents can be clever with the times and days of their open for inspections. What can seem like a quiet, suburban street during the day can quickly turn at night if you have night-owl neighbours or noisy motorists. You should pick a few different times outside of the allocated open inspection times to see how the street changes, how busy it gets on weeknights or whether it’s easy to find parking during the day.
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During inspections, it’s easy to get lost in the superficial trimmings of a bathroom and kitchen, but it’s worth your while to turn on the taps. Low water pressure can be irritating and unfortunately it’s something that many buyers don’t discover until post-move. Another deal breaker can be the hot water system and how quickly you might be waiting for the water to heat up when showering or washing dishes.
Before you bid, it’s a good idea you budget for a pre-purchase pest and building inspection to save you a lot of money and heartache once you move in. You may notice superficial faults yourself when inspecting but hiring an independent professional to check under the house and in the roof is a must if you’re about to pay top dollar for a home that turns out to be infested or not structurally sound.
Paying a qualified building inspector to do a full inspection is money well spent, as they will review the entire build of the home, including the foundations, fitting and insulation. It not only gives you peace of mind before you make an offer, but also gives you leverage in any negotiations around price with the agents or vendor.
Depending on the area you purchase your property or even how your property is built can affect the likelihood of flooding or fire. Both are common natural disasters in Australia so it’s recommended you do some research online and check the council’s flood maps. This is also another reason to make sure you organise a pre-purchase building inspection before you buy, as they will be able to advise you whether there’s cause for concern. Fire is often included in home and contents insurance, but flood cover sometimes isn’t depending on the policy so it’s crucial you make sure you’re covered if you do chose to live in a prone area.
While you may be familiar with most of the unexpected costs that come with home ownership, some costs that come once you’ve moved in can significantly vary depending on the suburb you’re in. Council rates are often overlooked when looking at purchasing property and can differ drastically. Same goes for home and contents insurance. Moving to a new area can have a direct impact on insurance premiums so it’s best to shop around. An ongoing cost that only affects those living in shared spaces like apartment buildings are strata fees. This is a quarterly fee owners need to pay to the Owners Corporation to help with the upkeep and management of the building. Again, these costs can vary significantly based on factors such as the number of apartments in the complex or whether facilities like a pool or elevators are part of the development.
If you’d like some more information on things to look out for when buying your first home, contact one of our first home buyer experts. They have a wealth of experience helping first home buyers navigate their way to home ownership.