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Buying a property can be a daunting task for the inexperienced. Even those buying their third, fourth or fifth property find they learn something new with each purchase. Here’s a few helpful hints:
1. Look, Listen & Learn
When it comes to buying real estate, you can never know too much and as many an experienced investor will tell you: “You can make more money when you buy than when you sell.” It’s all about buying wisely. Research the sales in your selected area to educate yourself on property values. Be as specific as you can – number of bedrooms, bathrooms, size of land, type of construction. Whilst the internet is a great source of information, it’s just one of many. Watch your local paper and drive/walk around looking for signs. The local property professionals at Wood&Co keep their fingers on the pulse of the market so feel free to give us a call or email if you need more details on properties that have sold – so you’ve got all the facts.
2. What’s in the Piggybank?
If you need to borrow to buy , contact the loans officer at your bank or finance broker to arrange the best loan to suit your needs. A good loans officer or finance broker should be able to give you a prompt indication of how much you can comfortably borrow and the price range of properties you can afford to buy. You may be told you have been “pre-approved to buy up to $….. “. Be aware that this is not unconditional approval for you to buy and any offer you make or contract you sign should still be made subject to formal finance approval. Most loan applications will include an independent valuation being undertaken by the bank’s valuer. This is a great safety-net for you as the bank won’t approve a loan for an amount beyond a certain percentage of the valuation.
3. Get amongst it
Inspect every property that suits your needs (both open homes & personal inspections) so you have a better feel for the prices. Attend as many auctions as you can – this will help you learn about buying at auction as well as gaining further appreciation of property values. Jump on the internet and subscribe to “Buyer Alerts” on the real estate portals so you’ll receive immediate notification of any newly listed properties that match your criteria. Whilst you can be very specific about the features you’re looking for, be aware that this may limit the number of “matches” the portal will find for you. Yes, it would be fantastic to find your “10 out of 10” property however, the reality is that most of us are happy to buy a 7 or 8 out of 10 and then we can alter or add our own touch to make it just right.
Develop a relationship with one of Wood&Co’s professional property advisors. Our mission is to help people prosper and enjoy their property and that means finding a property that really suits you and your needs. In this arena, there is no such thing as a dumb question – ask, ask, ask. We’re looking at and appraising new properties everyday and as we get to know you, we become attuned to what you’re looking for and we can give you the heads-up on a suitable property even before it hits the internet.
5. Yippy – you found it
OK, so you’ve found a property that presses your hot button. It’s time to really focus your research:
a) Check the title looking for any easements or encroachments that may affect your use or plans for the property.
b) Arrange for a building advisor to assess the construction.
c) Arrange for a pest inspector to check for any termite or white ant damage or infestation. It will cost you a few hundred dollars but it could save you thousands.
d) Re-visit the recent comparable sales of similar properties around this address and you’ll start to formulate an accurate appreciation of its fair market value.
e) In Victoria, you can ask for copy of the Vendor Statement. This is a document that every Victorian property seller is obliged to provide a purchaser before a contract is signed and must contain everything the seller knows about the property including the title, council rates, water and sewerage information.
f) With New South Wales residential property, a draft contract will provide similar information.
6. OK – Let’s buy it
Once you are happy and comfortable with the property and the paperwork, you may wish to present a proposal (offer) to your property professional which will start the negotiation process. Some sellers will insist that offers being presented in writing (in the form of a signed contract) whilst others will be happy with verbal negotiations. Naturally, you will hope to buy the property for the lowest possible price but be aware that an unreasonably low offer might offend the seller who could assume that you are not seriously interested and just fishing for a bargain. Just as a genuine seller must meet the market, a genuine buyer must be prepared to pay a fair market price.
Once negotiations have been finalised, you will be required to sign the Contract of Sale and pay a deposit – usually 10% of the purchase price. Make sure you receive a receipt verifying that your deposit has been lodged in a trust account. The deposit does not get paid to the seller – it is held in trust until settlement. Whilst contracts will then be exchanged and the agreement is legally binding, there maybe conditions still to be fulfilled (such as finance approval, pest inspection, etc), before the contract becomes unconditional.
7. It’s not over until it’s over
Most contracts include provision for you to conduct another inspection within a few days before settlement is scheduled to take place. This is to ensure that the property is in the same condition as it was when you signed the contract to buy it and that all the agreed fixtures and fittings are in place and in working order. If there is anything you’re not happy with, let the agent know and also advise your solicitor/conveyancer. The standard Victorian Contract of Sale includes special provisions to cater for something like this so that your interests are protected.
We hope you found these points helpful and please remember that every property has its unique points of difference and just like you, each seller will have his and her own special requirements. Don’t ever be afraid to ask your property advisor at Wood&Co about how the buying process will work for you and your circumstances.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has a helpful Buyer's Due Diligence Checklist that you might also find useful.
Good luck and happy hunting