You’ve made the exciting (albeit slightly daunting) decision to up sticks.
Well done on getting this far. The choice to buy a home - whether your first or not - is an epic one. And understandably, you feel the pressure to get it right.
But, aside from making sure your finances are in order, knowing your budget and all that jazz, how do you know what home is right for you?
You’ve found a bunch worth checking out, that you can afford. From what you can see from photos, they look pretty good. But aside from that, what other factors should you consider?
Let’s go over some of the most important ones now.
But before you read on, make sure you download my handy Home Buyers Checklist to take with you when viewing properties. It’ll help you evaluate the neighbourhood and the condition of various features. Plus, it allows you to compare up to 3 homes side by side.
Yes, you want a home that feels good when you walk in, but it’s just as crucial to assess the many other aspect of the property – and location is a big one.
Does the area work for you?
Not just now, but in the future. Consider its proximity to schools, playgrounds or green spaces for you, your family (and any furry friends you might have), as well as distance to work or accessibility to motorways or public transport.
Of course, these preferences will depend on your unique situation, so think holistically and logically about these. What might your situation be like 5 years from now? Will your needs change? Consider these now, and your future self will thank you.
Remember, the chances are that not every box will be ticked when it comes to location, so don’t let that stop you from moving forward.
But do sit down and mull over what’s important to you before you go house hunting.
What are your non-negotiables?
Is it that you have easy access to cafés, bars and shopping centres? Or are you willing to compromise on that for a quieter neighbourhood and shorter commute to work?
If you can get clear on your must-haves before you hit open homes, it’ll make the decision process a whole lot easier.
Do your homework
It’s smart to look into who (and what) you’ll be sharing your neighbourhood with. Are there industrial areas nearby, for example? If so, does this faze you? What about other environmental concerns or influences that might affect your decision?
If the home is on a busy road, how noisy is the traffic really? Can you hear it from inside? What about outdoors? If it’s going to put a damper on your Saturday afternoon BBQ, is it worth it? Or could you live with a bit of background noise in exchange for a larger home?
Get nosey on the neighbours
Check out how well maintained their properties are.
Are their sections tidy? How does rubbish look on collection day? What are noise levels like at the weekend? Do an evening drive-by if you want to be sure.
What about things like streetlights, sidewalks and alleyways?
These factors may impact the value of your property should you want to sell in the future. But aside from that, living in a tidy and quiet area might be important to you (or not).
If you’re serious about a place, have a wander around the area and soak up the atmosphere. You’ll notice a whole lot more on foot.
It’s easy to whip around and fall in love with a place based on initial impressions. But it’s important to take a closer look – you’ll save yourself from any unexpected (and unpleasant) surprises down the track.
What condition is it really in?
There are the obvious, like the general condition of the home, foundations, roof etc. (and this is where a building report comes in). However, there are also things like:
- How well insulated is it?
- What type of heating or air conditioning system is running? How old is it, and what impact will it have on your electricity bill?
- What condition are the appliances in?
- What about carpets, curtains etc? Will they need replacing any time soon?
Room to renovate?
If renovating is on the agenda, you’ll want to look at the building code compliance and the ability to expand. It might not be something you want to do immediately, but if it’s on the ‘maybe list’ for the future, it’s best you know now.
Functionality is key
Look and feel is important, but so is practicality. The layout and functionality of the house needs to work for you.
Spend some time thinking about how you want to live in your home.
- Does open plan suit you?
- Is it important to have a separate area for kids?
- Can you make do with a single garage or do you need a double?
- What’s the storage situation like?
Inside and out
Look at your outdoor space through the lens of your desired lifestyle (now and in the future).
If outdoor living is important to you, how does this flow? Is there a deck? If not, could you add one?
Then there’s landscaping. Are the gardens easy to maintain? Or are you happy to have a potter at the weekends? Is fencing a propriety (for kids or pets)? If unfenced, is this something you can afford to add?
A smart decision is a good one
As a mortgage broker, part of job to arm you with information you need to make an informed decision when it comes to buying a home that’s right for you.
If you can go into the process with a solid understanding of what to look for, you’re in good spot to make a decision you’re happy with, now and for years to come.
If it’s your first home you’re looking for, you’ll find my First Home Buyers Guide helpful too. It includes 5 helpful tips for entering the property market.
Need a mortgage advisor to help you get there? Get in touch and let’s make it happen.
The Finance Marshall