10 key steps to follow before you purchase your next property

As the market slows and buyers have the upper hand in negotiations, now is a good time to fine-tune your property search by following our comprehensive 10-step guide 

1. Lifestyle expectations

Ask yourself the hard questions? Do you have long-term job security? Is your family still growing? Do you have a 5-10 year plan? Are you searching for that ‘forever’ home or are you looking for an investment property or short-term residence? Have you thought about your lifestyle choices and what’s important to you and your family in terms of amenities/facilities and proximity to transport? Your answers to these questions will help you decide if now is the right time to buy and what’s important for you to look for in your search.

2. How much can you afford to spend?

Budget. Not everyone’s favourite word, but so important when you’re making probably the most significant financial decisions you’re ever likely to make. Be brutally honest with yourself and take the time to crunch the numbers and work out what you can really afford. Make sure you remember to factor in any up front costs you’ll have to pay, including inspections, broker or lender fees, stamp duty, etc. It’s also important to have a financial buffer to cover any unforeseen costs.

3. Research your home loan options

Do your research on the different home loans out there. When calculating interest rates, weigh up the best option over the lifespan of your loan, not just the short term. It pays to shop around.

4. Know your entitlements

Find out if you are entitled to any financial concessions before you buy. Do you qualify for the First Home Owner Grant?

5. Seek Pre-Approval

Get a pre-approval or conditional approval for your loan. This is when your bank or lender has determined you’ll likely be able to repay them. Pre-approval helps you get financed quicker and allows you to bid at auctions or make offers subject to finance.

6. Decide on the best location to suit your lifestyle

Location, Location, Location. I know it’s a clichéd catch phrase in the industry. But it’s so important to buy in the best location you can afford. A home in your chosen suburb should meet your current needs as well as your immediate future goals. Proximity to work, schools and transport are all key factors to take into account when you’re house hunting. Take the time to thoroughly research the neighbourhood and keep track of property sales and trends within the area.

7. Make a list of ‘must haves’

In a buyers market you can afford to be picky. Make a list of ‘must have’ inclusions. Master suite? Level gardens? Garage? Renovation potential or ready to move in? List them in order of importance to help you at the pointy end of the business.

8. Do your research

Once you’ve fallen in love with a property, make sure you go through the standard checklist to make sure the building is structurally sound. Arrange for a pest inspection to make sure there’s no structural damage or pest invasions to avoid any unexpected nasty surprises.

9. Seek professional advice

A good real estate agent will be able to offer invaluable local expertise and up-to-date information on the true market value of a property. They can also help by showing you properties that may be off-market, assist with negotiations and help with the bidding process at an auction.

10. Hire a legal professional

Investing in a well-regarded solicitor or conveyancer is paramount. They will prepare and lodge the contract for sale, arrange for the payment of the deposit and perform other legal and administrative tasks to ensure a smooth, hassle-free settlement.