5 House Buying Tips to Ensure You Don’t End up With a Lemon

home buying disaster
home buying disaster

Buying a house is probably the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. This is one area of life where it is essential you make the right choice. With the Australian property market starting to cool as a combination of new regulations and moves by the banks edge out investors, now may be a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. 

When looking for a new home, it’s easy to let your emotions take over and fall for a house because you love the way it looks. However, it’s vital you take some practical steps to ensure you won’t end up regretting the sale later.

1.   Location, Location, Location

5 house buying tips to ensure you don’t end up with a lemon

Houses in less desirable areas are a lot cheaper. It can be tempting to make your money stretch further by looking at houses in an area you wouldn’t normally consider if your budget was unlimited.

Take some time to really consider if you’ll be happy living in this area. It’s not much good buying your dream home if you’ll be uncomfortable walking around once the sun goes down because the crime rate is so high, or you don’t drive and you’re stuck somewhere with no public transportation.

Houses in sought after areas are also much easier to sell again later and are usually a better investment choice, even if the property itself isn’t perfect.

2. Look Beyond the Surface

Don’t allow yourself to be wowed by fancy furniture or appealing decoration. You can change these things easily. What you may not realise is that there’s a whole “staging” industry set up to make houses temporarily more attractive to buyers.

Instead, you should make sure that the house you’re considering has good “bones” – it’s structurally secure, in good condition, has a practical layout, decent-sized rooms, and potential for expansion or renovation which could increase the investment potential.

3. Follow an Inspection Checklist

While it’s perfectly natural for you to use your initial gut reaction when you first view a house, it’s important to arrange a second viewing and base your assessment on hard facts, rather than just picturing yourself in the Instagram-worthy kitchen.

Your checklist should include your basic criteria such as the number of bedrooms and parking requirements as well as things to check to get an idea if the building is in good structural condition. These might include:

  • Cracks in the foundation and walls
  • Signs of mould or damp
  • Spots on ceilings that may indicate leaks
  • Checking the taps and toilet work correctly

If there are any major red flags, you might want to discount the property or investigate further. If everything looks ok, it’s still worth investing in a professional building inspection to pick up anything you might have missed.

4. Arrange a Professional Building Inspection

5 house buying tips to ensure you don’t end up with a lemon

While you can spot some potential problems from your own inspection, it’s recommended to use the services of a professional building inspection company. Professionals are trained in finding issues that aren’t immediately obvious.

By using the services of a professional building inspector you can have peace of mind that you’re choosing a good investment, back out of a purchase before final sale, or use the findings of a report to negotiate a lower price or insist that any issues are resolved pre-sale.

Robert Woodward from Casey Building Inspections says, “When hiring a pre-purchase building inspector make sure they check for pest infestations, structural defects, plumbing leaks, mould and damp. These problems may be difficult and expensive to resolve in the future”.

5. Don’t Buy out of Desperation

5 house buying tips to ensure you don’t end up with a lemon
Looking for the right house for a long time can be very frustrating. The temptation is to buy a house that you’re not really happy with, just because you’re fed up of searching. This is especially true in a booming housing market when prices are rising rapidly.

While it’s equally not the best idea to wait forever for the “perfect” house, don’t buy a house that doesn’t meet your needs, as you’re likely to end up regretting it.

Instead, you might want to look at tweaking your requirements or extending your search area. You should also make sure you have a good estate agent who really understands your needs – don’t rely on internet searches as you could miss out on some great properties that aren’t listed or aren’t coming up in your search filters.

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