How to avoid buying the little house of horrors


So, you’re in the market to purchase a home. It’s exciting, but also daunting as you’re spending a vast amount of money and you really need to get it right. You can avoid your house hunting turning into a living nightmare by following these simple steps.

Get pre-approved finance
It sounds like a bit of a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by the number of people that start a property search before getting pre-approval. The first thing you need to do when searching for a property is to establish your budget, and, unless money is no object, you can’t set an accurate budget without first seeking finance.

Understand the FULL cost of the purchase
Many inexperienced buyers can fall prey to this one, and it’s a big one. The sale price is NOT the final price. When budgeting for your property purchase, ensure you include extra costs, such as stamp duties, valuations costs, rates, loan application fees, solicitor’s fees and mortgage insurance. These extras can add tens of thousands of dollars to the sale price.

Do a building and Pest Inspection
Firstly, Building and Pest Inspections are only effective if you use a well-regarded, independent inspector. Don’t simply follow the selling agent’s recommendation, find your own – chances are, you will need them more than once. Secondly, inspectors are trained to find every little fault in a property. Don’t sweat the little things, focus on the big problems (if there are any) and research the costs to rectify the issues.

Be wise to the role of the selling agent
As friendly as selling agents may seem, smart buyers understand that the agent is working in the interest of the seller, NOT the buyer. No matter how well you know your local agent, when it comes to the crunch, they’re not working for you. Agents are legally obligated to act in the interest of their client – worth keeping in mind when you’re serious about a property.

Don’t exceed your budget
Why is it that the house that ticks all your boxes is just a tiny bit more that you can afford? It happens to all of us – if you only had a few more thousand, but the thing is… you don’t. Your lender sets a borrowing limit based on what you can afford – overspending is gambling with your financial security. Always factor in changes, like rate rises, into your budget to avoid any unwanted financial strain.

Research the area
Do your homework if your property search is in an unfamiliar area. Remember, you’re not just buying a house but also the location, so it’s imperative to find out about local amenities, schools, transport links and even the crime rate. There are undesirable pockets in many popular suburbs – don’t get caught out on the wrong side of the tracks.

Check for Development Applications
Before purchasing a property, it’s wise to consult the local council for any Development Applications (DAs) that may impact the area. Are parking meters going in? Is there a new block of apartments being built on your back fence? These are things that will affect the future value of your property and will likely not be evident at the open home.

Meet the neighbours
It doesn’t matter how good your property’s location is, if you’ve got horrible neighbours, it can be hell. Before buying a property, talk to the neighbours, and ask them about the area and how they find living there. Driving around the area at the different times of the day is also a good idea, to get a feel for the neighbourhood.

• Follow this guide to avoid any nasty surprises when you’re making your next property purchase. For some extra help in the market, contact Skeen Property.

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