9 tips to make buying a home easier
It’s safe to say Frank Sinatra wasn’t in the market to buy a home when he sang ‘The Best Things In Life Are Free’ because property can be one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make.
Frank Valentic, on the other hand, knows this all too well. As the director of Advantage Property Consulting and star of the ever-popular renovating show The Block, he’s seen firsthand the blood, sweat and cash that goes into purchasing a property.
From hunting for the house and securing it at auction, to financing it for the future, there’s a lot involved in the process. So we’ve enlisted the expertise of Frank Valentic as well as Ross Miller, general manager of leading lender, St.George Bank, to help you out.
Here are nine tips from the experts to help you find, secure and keep your dream home.
Finding the home
1. Look for investor-grade criteria and owner-occupier appeal
So what does this mean, exactly? Find a home that you want to live in now but that will be easy to resell in the future.
“Buy properties that are in good locations and tick many boxes. Some factors worth looking for include a north-facing orientation, parking, views and good aspects, as well as extra features such as heating, cooling and mod cons,” says Frank.
2. Get to know your agents
Don’t have your agents on speed dial? That’s your first mistake.
Frank recommends calling your agent/s regularly to ask them if they have any properties coming up that are “off-market” and if you could see them before they come onto the market. This could be just the ticket to get you into your first home while avoiding the emotional assault we call an auction.
“Regularly keep in touch with agents and even check if there is a possibility of recommending their services to friends and family members (if you have any looking to sell). Hopefully, it will help you to get extra services and support,” he adds.
3. Get independent advice
If you’re serious about the property and you’ve done research on similar sales in the area, the next step is to seek further advice.
“Get independent advice from a buyer’s advocate or valuer to find the property’s worth,” says Frank.
Securing the home
4. Make an offer
If you’ve found the property you love and you’ve already worked on negotiating the price, don’t be scared to make an offer prior to an auction.
Frank says the key to success here is to put in an unconditional offer presented with a deposit cheque. This means the offer is not conditional on you selling your current home or any other factors, except a building report. A building report is important as it will help alert you to any structural defects associated with the property, which could then cost you money down the track.
He also suggests submitting an odd number in the offer as it looks like you’ve extended yourself and literally can’t afford another dollar.
5. Have a bidding strategy
If they don’t accept your offer or you feel there isn’t enough interest and you’d rather go to auction, go in with a strategy.
“If you’re bidding at an auction in the current market place which is slower, hold back and come in bidding late. Hopefully, you’ll have the property passed into you as the last bidder and you can negotiate below the vendor’s reserve,” says Frank.
“Be careful not to get caught up at an auction by a smooth auctioneer who can often bring out the emotion and make you overpay.”
To avoid this, it’s always good to have someone else bid for you so you don’t get caught up in the moment.
Financing the home
6. Be critical when assessing your expenses
It might be all about location when you’re searching for a home but when it comes to financing, it’s savings, savings, savings. So, be prepared to get very familiar with your financial position.
“Make sure you’re realistic about your expenses, any existing debt you might have such as a personal loan or credit card, and that you have a good understanding of your borrowing power. To ensure you’ve got everything in order, jump online and take advantage of free tools and resources – like our online checklist,” says Ross Miller.
“It’s also a good idea to know the additional costs associated with buying a property, ensuring you’ve sufficiently budgeted for them.”
7. Have your ducks in a row
And by ducks, we mean, documentation.
“We find documentation often holds up the application process so make sure you provide all relevant paperwork upfront including payslips, bank statements and any other financial statements of debts you might have,” says Ross.
8. Jump online to streamline the process
We live in a digital world. Gone are the days of photocopying printing and mailing all your supporting documentation for your bank.
9. Be honest with the information you share
To prevent any delays with your application, it pays to be honest and up front about your financial position.
“We encourage all buyers to be honest and realistic about any information they share to prevent any additional hold-ups with their application,” Ross says.
The information in this article is general in nature and does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Always seek professional advice before making any decisions.