12-point Checklist for First-time Home Buyers
Category Helpful Hints
Buying your first home is an exciting time but before you dive in, it’s important to do your research, get your finances organised and know what you can afford.
Negotiate as much as you can. You can use an agent to do the negotiating on your behalf, but you can’t be sure how hard they will push for you.
SA Damp shares a checklist to get you a step closer to owning your own home…
1. Do your research
This is not the time to trust your gut, so the first item on your list should be research.
There are many factors to consider like the area, proximity to highways, schools, shopping centres, your nearest retail stores and fast food take-outs.
In this day and age, these are important factors to consider.
2. Everyone is going to give you advice, it’s okay not to listen
As soon as you announce that you’re looking to buy property, you can expect friends and family to come out of the woodwork with all their well-intentioned advice.
Unless your friends or family are in the property business, there is a good chance their advice might not be sound.
To avoid any misunderstandings and conflict, speak to the experts and ask them for their professional input.
3. Use your nose, knock on walls and turn the taps
When viewing potential homes, check for the smell of mould or animal-related odours. Check the walls: outside boundary walls, inside walls and cupboards etc for any damage.
Does the toilet flush properly? Does the heating or air-conditioner work? Is the flue functioning above the fireplace? Is the water pressure okay? These are all important questions to ask.
4. Work with experienced professionals
Hire an home inspector to do a report on the potential property you're looking to buy.
Confer with your lawyer on any issues you may find. Make sure you use a good property lawyer. There are different types of lawyers but just because you know a lawyer, it does not mean they are right for the job.
Make sure you ask the professionals all the questions you may have so that you get thorough answers.
5. Use your head and not your heart
Don’t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal.
There will be other properties, maybe even better ones.
Remember that this is a financial transaction so ensure that your terms are met. If something seems off, then walk away, don’t be pushed into a bad deal.
6. Negotiate as much as you can
You can use an agent to do the negotiating on your behalf, but you can’t be sure how hard they will push for you.
As a buyer, you should feel in control and as though you have nothing to lose through robust negotiation.
7. Don’t be pressured into a deal
Real estate agents are expert sales people. They may get you to rush over to the perfect property and urge you to make an offer before someone else snatches it up.
If you feel rushed, then back away. Time is on your side.
8. Consider what you can really afford
Determine your budget based on what you can afford to repay now, not the maximum you’re allowed to borrow.
You need to be able to afford your bond, and considering that interest rates go up, think about just how much buffer you can afford.
9. Are you prepared for hard work?
Almost everyone likes the idea of having a big garden. However, if you’re not used to maintaining one, you might want to think about whether you can afford to pay for the servicing of the lawn or whether you want to spend your weekends maintaining it or your yard.
10. Check the interest rates
When preparing to buy a home, you need to do your research on the interest rates.
Working with your bank will be your first call and once they give you an interest rate, start shopping around. Use this to leverage the various banks to offer you a better interest rate.
Once you get a green light from one bank, the others will follow so don’t feel pressured to accept
Remember to carefully read through the fine print work with your agent and lawyer to understand what you are getting into.
11. Select an agent carefully
Prepare questions in advance before meeting with your new agent. Find out what kind of experience they have, how many buyers they are representing and if they can share any references.
Before hiring an agent, ask friends and family who have bought homes whether they can recommend someone. Remember, however, that you should not feel obligated to use the recommended agent.
12. The search may take longer than you think
Give yourself six months to a year to find the right property for you and your family.
Finding a property is not a simple task - it takes time so don’t rush.
You may have to spend your Sundays looking at properties, you may get frustrated and may want to give up, but hang in there, you will find the right property for you, and you will love it once it’s yours.
Author: SA Damp