3 must-know tips when buying a home

Buying a home is a momentous occasion, which can be equal parts exciting and bewildering. From determining your personal preferences to exercising important due diligence, here’s 3 tips to help you sail through the process.

1. Money matters.

Have your deposit ready (that’s about 20% of a home’s purchase price).

Be clear on your budget and have a pre-approved loan. Be sure to shop around for the best rate and make sure the mortgage details, such as whether you can pay out the loan earlier or whether you can redraw money, are suitable.

Prepare for other upfront expenses. These include conveyancing fees, mortgage insurance, building inspections, lender’s application fee and adjustment of council rates.

Keep an eye on what homes in your preferred area are selling for, so you can make an informed choice about how much you are willing to pay.

2. Home truths.

Engage a conveyancer or lawyer to review the Section 32 statement to ensure all the property’s information is up-to-date and correct.

Arrange a building inspection. A licensed professional will check the home’s structural soundness and for hazards like asbestos and rising damp, as well as issues such as cracked walls and sloping floors, and whether or not any outdoor structures – pergolas, sheds – have been built with council approval.

Know what type of home you want (apartment versus house, Californian bungalow versus new build) and check if there are any heritage overlays which might affect future renovation plans. Similarly, understand how many bedrooms and bathrooms are a must, so you can rule out unsuitable properties and save time.

If buying a house, be clear on how much land you want. Check the land size on a parcel search because appearances can be deceptive. (www.land.vic.gov.au/property-and-parcel-search).

Check if the property’s appliances all work, such as air conditioner, heater, oven, alarm system and electric garage doors, and whether they are listed on the contract of sale. It’s important to know whether these big-ticket items are functional. If not, you may be able to negotiate on price.

3. Location, location, location.

Get to know your preferred locale. Search the council website for upcoming developments and building/density guidelines that could affect your property. Assess the council’s flood maps to check if you could be buying in a flood zone.

Get to know what amenities are close by, including public transport (train stations, trams and bus routes) and how far you are from necessities such as supermarkets and medical centres, which could affect your lifestyle.

If you have kids or plan on them in the future, find out which schools your home is zoned for. (www.findmyschool.vic.gov.au)

Buying a home is the biggest decision of most people’s lives. Make the moment less stressful and confusing by checking off these important steps before you sign on the dotted line.

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