Read any blog or article about buying a home in Australia and you’re sure to get a fine lecture on just how much work goes into buying a house. From researching suburbs to hitting the pavement for inspections, the journey is likely to be challenging. One way to make it just a little bit easier is to employ the age-old trick of asking A LOT of questions.
You see, finding the right home is all about gathering information and narrowing your options down until you settle on a home that ticks all your boxes. And while there is no such thing as a stupid question, when it comes to buying a home, some questions are more important than others.
Whether you’re looking at buying your first home or your next home, these five questions must be answered:
1. Why is the owner selling?
When inspecting any properties that you’re thinking about making an offer on, make sure you ask the real estate agent why the owner is selling.
This answer provides insight into the owner’s motivations, which will help you come to an offer that they’ll realistically consider. For example, has the owner bought elsewhere or is the property being sold due to a divorce? Both of these circumstances usually indicate a highly motivated seller that wants to sell as quickly as possible, making them more open to considering an offer that is slightly below their asking price.
Alternatively, is the owner still looking for the right property and wants a longer settlement period? Or, is the home being sold due to a death in the family? The former indicates a seller willing to wait out the market to get the highest offer they can. The latter usually means the property will go to auction.
All of this will affect your plans and ultimately how much you should be willing to offer.
2. Are there any known issues with the property, land or neighbouring properties?
When you’re thinking about making an offer on a home, it’s important to conduct your own thorough inspection of the home and surrounding property. It’s also important to ask the agent if there are any known issues with the property and the surroundings.
Many agents will have access to knowledge and information that you just can’t access simply by inspecting a property. They’re also obligated to disclose any information that may affect a home’s value. Most will also act in good faith, providing information that may affect a buyer’s decision to make an offer.
Asking this question is a great way to cover your bases when understanding the true value of the home. Of course, the word of an agent should never replace a proper building and pest inspection.
3. How long has the property been on the market?
The average time a property sits on the market in Australia is around 30 days — give or take a few on either side. Any property that’s on the market longer than that deserves a deeper investigation. It’s likely either overpriced or has issues with the home or land that buyers are not willing to overlook. Either way, this will definitely influence your offer.
When asking the agent how long the property has been on the market, make sure you ask why. You should also ask if the property went to auction. If it did, ask what happened at the auction and why it didn’t sell.
4. Am I happy with the property and location?
So, you’ve done your research, conducted your inspections and consulted with the agent, and you think you’re ready to make an offer. Before you submit anything formal, it’s important to take a little bit of time to ask yourself if you are truly happy with the property and the location.
If you’ve done any research at all into buying a property, you’ve probably heard that buying the right home is all about location, location, location. Well, it’s true. Location plays a huge part in the overall satisfaction of any home purchase. You want to find a property that offers amenities and convenience that fits your lifestyle.
Speaking of lifestyle, it’s also worth thinking about whether or not the property fits in with your current and future life goals. Whether you’re single, expecting a family or looking to downsize, you want to make sure that the home you’re going to buy will fit in with your plans for the foreseeable future. Sure, you’re not stuck in any one place forever, but buying a property is all about long term goals.
5. Can I afford this property?
Last but definitely not least, you need to ask yourself — really ask yourself — if you can afford the property you’re thinking about buying. Be sure to answer this question honestly. It will save you big in the long run.
In all the work and effort that goes into finding the right property, it’s easy to get swept up in the idea of buying the home of your dreams. Before you know it, you’re looking at making an offer on a home that will blow your bank account out of the water. Remember that the only person looking after your best interests throughout the buying process is you. You need to make responsible decisions to ensure you’re not getting in over your head.
Before you even start looking at homes, you should put together a realistic buying budget. While your lender will likely do this with you to a certain extent, it’s up to you to ensure that you can definitely afford your mortgage repayments. As you’re looking for the right home, keep this budget firmly in mind. You will undoubtedly be tempted to go over, but don’t do it. Remember that you can always upgrade in the future — either through renovations or buying a new home.
Before you actually make an offer, you should review your budget to ensure you submit an amount that truly sits within your means.