Buying a new home is both exhilarating and terrifying. There are plenty of unexpected pitfalls as you navigate the purchasing process, but with careful preparation, you can avoid them. Below, we’ve rounded up 10 things to consider when buying a home.
1. Decide Between What You Want and What You Need
By far the biggest and most important thing to do when considering buying a home is to figure out your preferences. Do you want two bedrooms, or three? Which neighbourhoods suit your needs, lifestyle, and budget? Are you going to have kids? All of these are questions you should be asking before buying a home.
2. Sort Out Your Finances
After you’ve narrowed down what you want in a home, it’s time to have a hard look at your finances. Knowing just how much you can beg and borrow from the bank will be the biggest factor, so make sure to consult a mortgage calculator (find it here). You’ll also need to have money ready for a deposit, generally 20% of the total asking price. Assessing your budget also helps you narrow down the areas where you can realistically buy.
3. Get Ready to Research
As one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life, it goes without saying that buying a home involves a lot of research. That means trawling through online property searches to get a feel for the market prices during your lunch break at work. It also means multiple visits to any potential houses o the weekend to get a feel for the property. Visit local auctions, introduce yourself to realtors, and hang out in the neighbourhoods you’re interested in buying in. All of it helps you secure the home of your dreams.
4. You’ll Need to Refine Your Preferences
While you might have a list of must-haves, realistically, there are all kinds of trade-offs when it comes to buying a new home. A painful but very essential step is refining your preferences. Perhaps a garage was a must-have, but the price puts those houses out of your budget. Or maybe you absolutely needed three bedrooms but were probably never going to turn the third into a personal gym anyway. The perfect house doesn’t exist and there will always be trade-offs.
5. Researching a Home’s Worth
If you’ve found something you’re interested in, make sure to research whether the seller is offering a fair price. That means looking into what similar houses are selling for in the same area, the state of the real estate market, and the house’s proximity to shops and other amenities. You should be well-versed in research tactics by now, which will ensure you don’t overpay for a new home.
6. You’ll Need a Lawyer on Your Side
Buying a home is a complicated business, but with a lawyer on your side things become infinitely easier. It’s their job to go through all the contracts and explain any terms or general practices that you might not be aware of. Things like the settlement period, the deposit amount, and anything else can all be easily negotiated and understood with a solicitor working with you.
7. You Might Have to Negotiate
If you’ve found your dream home, sometimes it’s not as easy as saying ‘yes’ and throwing down several thousand dollars on a deposit. The homebuying market is competitive, which means there are usually other interested buyers. Negotiating on price sometimes comes into play, which means it’s essential to truly know how much the property is worth and whether or not you’re comfortable going above the budget you’ve set.
8. Knowing the Contracts
You shouldn’t leave all the legal language and clauses up to your solicitor. Yes, it’s their job to explain the contracts to you, but it’s your job to understand them. Inside is everything you’ll need to know, from how long a settlement period is to what date final payment is due. Having complete peace of mind when it comes to what’s going on in the contract is going to be key in keeping stress levels down in the house-buying process.
9. Getting the House Inspected
So, you’ve visited a house three or four times, and are considering putting down an offer. But before you do, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional. There may be some underlying issues with the building, or zoning permits that will stop you from putting up a fence you had planned. Whatever it is, it’s better to find out before you’re locked into a mortgage.
10. The Final Settlement
Finally, it’s time for the final settlement. This usually occurs around six weeks after the contracts have been signed and is the final step in purchasing your new home. This is when you’ll pay the remaining amount owing – the bank should provide you with a cheque for the total amount. But before you hand it over, organise a final ‘pre-settlement inspection’ to make sure the seller has left everything as agreed in your contract.