Here is some useful information and handy tips on how to avoid common mistakes so that buying a home will be fun, exciting and rewarding.
Agents represent the sellers. Everything they say should be verified, not because the agents will necessarily mislead you, but simply because the agents do not have to live in the property, you do. Agents want to make sales, you want to find the right home. Some agents will attempt to sell you a home which is wrong for you. Don’t be afraid to question your agent.
You may borrow too much based on your present situation. You must make allowance for changes in your circumstances in the future. Be especially careful of loans with payments that increase at a later date. Always consult a professional before entering into any agreement where you might come out empty handed.
You may spend too much on the purchase price of a home and have insufficient money for your inclusions, improvements or furnishings. There are few things more depressing that having the home you want in the right area and being unable to afford curtains or light fittings. In extreme cases, the cost of the home can seriously hurt your living standards.
Don’t ignore your ‘instincts’. The right home has the 'right feel', just as the right person has the right feel. No-one should buy a home without having that ‘feeling'. You may not get it the first time you inspect the property but trust your gut. You know best.
It is easy to grossly underestimate the expense of moving into a new home. When you first move to a home, anything that is going to go wrong seems to go wrong. It is almost as if the act of moving in and out displeases the home! Be prepared for a series of irritating and often costly breakdowns and maintenance work. Most buyers fail to anticipate these events.
Be careful you don’t buy a ‘rogue’ home because you overlook something obvious such as noisy neighbours. You should have at least 2 inspections at various times – Saturday morning and/or afternoon (especially Sunday mornings), and during wet weather if possible. You should meet the neighbours if possible and get to know your home before you move in. Be suspicious of any home that has had several owners in a short period.
You may get tired of looking, become desperate and buy something which is ‘reasonable’ rather than suitable. Don’t talk yourself into buying something you don’t like. Be careful to buy what feels right, no matter how longs it takes. If you become frustrated, it is better to stop looking for a few weeks rather than buy an unsuitable home out of desperation or frustration. With patience, the ‘right’ home is always found.
Do not underestimate the continual expense of owning a home e.g. rates, insurance and maintenance costs. Owning a home can cost far more than renting. First home buyers are particularly susceptible to underestimating the running costs on a family home. Very few homes can be ‘maintained’ for under $150 a week. That’s $7,800 extra expense a year!
Do not be influenced by the market more than your own situation. Waiting for prices to go up or down is to gamble with you or your family's’ future. If you can find the home that feels good and you can afford it, you should rarely let the market conditions become a major influencing factor.
Buy within your limits, but don’t go too far below what you can afford. You may spend several years wishing you had paid a bit extra for your home. If you can’t find a home to suit you, consider a cheaper area. Sometimes you can buy exactly what you want in a neighbouring suburb. Is an address really that important to you?
Do not buy on price more than on emotion. The home itself is more important than the price, provided it is within your price range. Some people see the home they really want and if it can’t have a big discount they refuse to buy. This is often a big mistake which you may regret bitterly in the future.
You may be tempted to make no decision. You may look for months and years. While you waste money in rent, the prices may rise and you will be left behind. Do not be too demanding and unrealistic. Be pragmatic. Realise that buying something is better than buying nothing if you are in the position to buy. Home ownership is too important to risk lengthy delay.
Do not allow your relatives or your friends to make the major decision instead of just giving you advice or opinions. Relatives and friends do not have the same emotions as you. Friends mean well, but it is unfair to pass the final decision to anyone other than the people who will be living in the home. Sometimes it is best to buy a home and inform your friends once the sale is complete.
It is important to hire ethical, competent and independent paid professionals to check a home. Be aware that most professional inspectors are trained to find faults. Look at major faults. Do not let the minor faults trouble you too much. Poor guttering is much less of a concern than poor foundations.