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7 things to remember when buying a home

Posted on 9 June 2016

The process of choosing a new house can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. For the vast majority of us, it is not only the most expensive thing we will ever buy, it is a long-term financial commitment that we don't want to get wrong or regret. So here are some things to bear in mind.

1. It all sounds good

The first thing to consider is that, when perusing the pages of the real estate section or taking that brochure out of the hand of the agent at the inspection, everything has been designed to look and sound as appealing as possible. But don't believe the hype! Don't park alongside the kerb before inspecting a house without knowing approximately what the house you are about to inspect is really worth. You will also know the proximity and reputation of local schools and shops and the council rates you will pay. Being able to demonstrate some basic knowledge about the area and the local property market has the added benefit of showing the agent right from the beginning that you are no fool.

2. Look behind the curtain

Bear in mind that, like anything for sale, but particularly houses, the product has been put into a state designed for one purpose - to get as much money out of you as possible. Furniture may have been arranged strategically to hide flaws or to make rooms look bigger. And while the agent may seem armed with all the information you need, the vendor may not have told them everything and may in fact be withholding vital stats. Make sure you get all the information you need, like whether the whole house is insulated or not. Ask about easements, strata titles, caveats and covenants and check that you get the right answers.

3. It's harder than buying eggs

Everything looks good, but turn your head towards the ceiling - do you like the light fittings, and are they in good condition? Same goes for heating and cooling - it's things like this that will cost you extra money once you move in. So walk around with your camera phone and take some snaps that you can look at and discuss with your partner in the evening. Turn on the taps and the shower - is the water pressure good? Look at the hot water system and air conditioner - will they need replacing at some point in the near future? Check the condition of the roof. Is a room freshly painted and could that mean worrisome cracks have been quickly patched over? Open and close doors as a quick check for potential subsidence issues.

4. Location, location ...

The house may seem to tick all the boxes, like street appeal and the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but you are going to have to look deeper than that. Be quiet and stand still - do you hear a noisy road that might keep you awake at night? A neighbour shouting at his kids? A yappy dog? Are you sure you're not under a flight-path or near an unexpected train line? Will the east or west-facing house have issues with the sun?

5. Look deeper

A good idea might be to visit the home not just on Sunday afternoons, but arrange a mid-week meeting in the morning or evening which might give you more information about the house's natural light and warmth. Drive out with your kids and dogs not to look at the house, but to walk around the local area checking for parks, schools and local transport. Do you see the neighbours? Stop and say hi - are they friendly?

6. Imagine living in it

Imagine waking up on a Saturday morning after a hard week at work only to find you've run out of milk and bread. Can you walk to a local shop or will it be a 10-minute drive? Will the kids be able to walk to school? Will your big fridge fit in that little gap? It's easy to be seduced by an apparently appealing house, but you actually have to live in it too. Will it be a long and tedious walk from the dining room to the kitchen sink when you're clearing the plates after dinner? These things might seem trivial, but they matter when you do them every single day, year after year. The best and most appealing place in the house might be the rumpus room fit for a snooker king, but will you even use it?

7. Is it as good as it seems?

Remember, it's not just the basic layout that matters, but all the little details like sheds and driveways - and little details like lovely-looking old power-points that may seem appealing, but do they actually reveal that the wiring is very old? Similarly, old houses can be damp and also be hiding an army of mice or other pests, so check for signs such as gaps in floorboards, get a building inspection done and read the report thoroughly.


By Darel McBride


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