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    what to consider before you start house-hunting

    The search for the right home is exciting, but it also takes time and careful research.

    What to consider before you start house-hunting

    In the first article of this 3-part series, we discussed the first steps to buying a home and gave you some tips to help you work out what you can afford to pay for property. Now we’ll look at what you should consider before you settle on a property and commit to signing an offer to purchase.

    List your priorities

    Make a checklist of what matters most to you before you begin your search. This will help you to figure out what you’re willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable. Include these details in your checklist:

    • Location (city, suburb) 
    • Free-standing private house/semi-detached house/security estate/apartment 
    • Number of bedrooms 
    • Bathroom facilities 
    • Size of property/garden 
    • General security and safety of the property and neighbourhood 
    • Proximity to your place of work, schools, shops, libraries, clinics and hospitals 
    • Traffic density 
    • Home design: old-fashioned/modern, single/double storey, open plan living, etc. 
    • Extra features like a pool, air-conditioning, fibre Internet, etc.

    Tip 1: Properties that are close to amenities such as schools and shopping centres tend to be better investments, as they are more sought after. If you think you may want to sell your home after a few years, aim to buy a home in a neighbourhood that offers easy access to such amenities. Safety and security are other major factors.

    Tip 2: Think long-term. Are you thinking to start or grow your family? Do you have children who need to attend school? How far will you have to commute to work?

    Do your research

    Buying a home is a major investment, so you need to make sure that your home is both a sound financial choice and a place where you and your family will be comfortable and happy. That means proper research is essential.

    Search online

    There are many reputable property sites that list homes according to different categories, such as city, suburb, property type or price range. Take a look online to get a sense of what property in an area you like sells for.

    Tip: Many property sites allow you to set an alert so that you will receive an email or SMS when properties that match your buying criteria come up for sale. This is a great way to keep yourself updated on potential properties.

    Work with a real estate agent

    You can partner with a real estate agent who can help you find the home that’s right for you and that fits your budget. The advantages are that you’ll be guided through the process of choosing a home by an experienced professional.

    Keep in mind that agents charge a commission fee that pushes up the price of a home, whereas a private sale between you and the seller may mean a lower price. They may also be able to help you find a property that you would not find on your own.

    Tip: Speak to people who have worked with an agent to get a recommendation for someone trustworthy.

    Inspect the property

    Never offer to buy a home unless you have viewed it and have inspected it carefully. Discovering problems like faulty plumbing or electrical issues after a sale has gone through can be expensive to repair.

    Here is a checklist of the main things to look at when viewing a home:

    • Plumbing – make sure all taps, toilets, basins and washing machine and dishwasher outlets, etc. are in good working order, as well as the geysers 
    • Electrics – are plug points, built-in stove tops and ovens, air conditioners etc. in good working order and is there a prepaid metre? 
    • Flooring – check the state of carpets, the surface under carpets for rising damp, check wooden floors for woodborer beetle damage, etc. 
    • Cupboards and packing space – make sure you have enough storage space and that all shelves and door hinges are sound 
    • Roof – check for any signs of possible leaks, tile or sheet damage 
    • Internet and telephone – is there a WiFi or fibre connection available in the area and will you require a landline? 
    • Additional costs – what are the monthly property rates and taxes?

    Tip: Look out for cost-saving, eco-friendly features like solar panels, a well point, LED lighting or rain tanks that will add value to the property and save you money on your water or electricity bill.

    Action those big goals

    Setting realistic annual goals is a great way to help build the life and career you want. The more practical and informed your approach, the more likely you are to achieve your dreams. We’d like to help you reach at least one goal this year, so we’ve created a 3-part series of practical information and handy checklists for 4 major financial goals. Whether you want to buy a home or a car, or save for your education or a dream holiday, we’ve got you covered. In part 3 of this series, we’ll look closely at the home loan application process and how to pay it off without defaulting on repayments.

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