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6 steps to property hunting

Buying a home can be a stressful process. You not only need to invest money, but you need to invest your time and be prepared. Here are some useful steps to help you find your home.

  1. Do your research - Read market trend reports, zoning and neighbourhood plans, previous sale prices and suburb demographics. The more you learn about the housing market, the easier it will be to identify a fair deal and get what you want in a home.

  2. Write a realistic home needs list - This will help you realise what you are looking for in a home. Questions to ask yourself include: What size do you need now and in the near future? Do you want an old or modern home? Can you afford the renovations? Where do you want to buy? How close do you need to be to facilities? It’s also a good idea to separate this list into ‘must haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ as you might not always be able to get exactly what you’re after. Take a look at the Consumer Affairs Victoria Due Diligence Checklist to make sure you’ve covered everything.

  3. Look for a property that fits your wish list - Monitor the internet, local newspapers and real estate publications for available properties. Make sure you look for what you want and don’t rush into anything that doesn’t fit your budget and wish list.

  4. Inspect properties - Attend property inspections multiple times if possible. Beware of obvious signs that may indicate structural problems such as sloping floors, cracked walls, excessive moisture such as mouldy walls and lifting tiles in wet areas like the laundry or bathroom. Visiting the neighbourhood at different times of the day is a great idea to get a feel of the surroundings, noise levels and community. Take a look at our Property Inspection Checklist.

  5. Compare and negotiate - The research you did in step one will come in handy here. Take another look at the sale prices in the area, property history and compare this to the vendor’s asking price. Compare this home to others you have viewed and decide your starting price for the property. Be ready to negotiate and don’t go above your maximum price.

  6. Don’t be afraid to walk away - Advertised property prices can be deceiving, with metropolitan properties regularly selling for more than the advertised price in many areas. If the vendor is asking for more than you think the property is worth or over your maximum price, don’t be afraid to walk away. There will be another home on the market more suited to your needs and it is important not to rush into anything you can’t commit to if your situation changes.

Have you heard of a Buyer’s Advocate?

A Buyer’s Advocate (also called a Buyer’s Agent) represents the buyer and is a licensed professional who specialises in searching, assessing and negotiating the purchase of property. As real estate agents represent the seller, you may wish to take up the service of a Buyer’s Advocate when you are looking to purchase a property.