Buying a house is a big decision. It’s almost certainly the most expensive thing you’ll ever purchase, so it’s not surprising that most people want to take their time. Perhaps you want to dip your toes in the water before plunging in head first. There are plenty of things you can do now to get a feel for what’s out there without committing yourself to anything. Here are five steps to take now when you’re hoping to buy your dream home later.
1. Work out what you can afford
There’s no need to get formally approved finance at this stage, but you do need to have a rough idea of what your budget will be. There are a number of online calculators made available by all the major banks and mortgage brokers, any of which will give you a starting point.
It’s also worth sitting down and scrutinising your budget to see if there are any changes you can make. This preliminary stage is an excellent time to try and pay down any debts that have been hanging over you so that when you do come to apply for finance you’ll be in the best possible position.
2. Make a list of things that are important to you
You may already have an idealised image of your dream house, but to help the process along you need concrete attributes. Consider what size or style of home will suit you best, and whether location is important to you. Would you be willing to move further out into the suburbs in order to have a garden, or would an inner-city apartment be better suited to your lifestyle? Is the number of bedrooms negotiable, and will you need access to local amenities?
3. Register for listings
Armed with your budget and your wish list, you can start to find out exactly what’s out there. Allhomes.com.au has a feature that will notify you when properties meeting your search criteria come on the market, so you won’t miss any of them. You’ll get a feel for whether your desired home is possible or whether you’ll need to compromise a little on size or location. All that research into what properties sell for will also help when it comes time to buy, because you’ll be in a stronger bargaining position if you know what the real sale value is.
4. Speak to a local agent
Real estate agents are a veritable fount of wisdom. Not only can they help you locate properties that meet your criteria, they’ll know what might be coming up for sale in the near future and how fast properties in that area sell. Find a local Peter Blackshaw agent and make a time to sit down with them. They’ll be delighted to tell you about the amenities in the area, give you a sense of the demographic mix and suggest properties that you may not have considered. As a bonus, you’ll be on their list when that perfect property does hit the market so you’ll be amongst the first to see it.
5. Attend open homes
The advent of online listings has made searching for a property more convenient than ever, but nothing substitutes for an in-person inspection. Set aside some Saturdays and hit the open homes in the area you’re considering. This is a great way to gather information for a number of reasons. It will help you refine your criteria as you see how different homes feel inside - perhaps you’ll decide that you do prefer an open plan kitchen after all, or realise that the third bedroom isn’t necessary.
It will also give you a better feel for the neighbourhood. Maps can show you how close a property is to a main road, but it’s only by visiting in person that you’ll really know how noisy that makes the street. You’ll be able to determine how the traffic flows and whether the parking is ample - you might even discover a new favourite cafe!
This initial stage of researching property can be fun and exciting as you get to discover what’s out there in your future. Take your time, enjoy the process, and when you are ready to buy you’ll be well armed with all the information you need.