Cheat Sheet

Buying Property For Dummies (Australian Edition)

Buying a home in Australia is a huge undertaking, involving quite possibly the biggest financial and lifestyle choices you’ll ever make. To choose wisely and secure a good deal in today’s Australian real estate market, think about the common elements that can make a property more appealing to future buyers or tenants. Also find out how to prepare to put in an offer and how to take the anxiety out of moving day.

Buying an Australian Property that’s Right for You

Every home in Australia is different, but you can find some common elements that can make a property more appealing to future buyers or tenants. Consider looking for these property aspects, especially if you’re buying your first home with the idea of springboarding to a bigger and better property down the track:

  • Location near shops, schools and universities

  • Easy access to good roads and public transport to nearest town or city centre

  • Views over a park, water, the city lights or some other point of interest

  • A logical floor plan where space flows smoothly from one room to another without dead ends

  • A welcoming entrance — whether the porch and front door of a house or the lobby of a block of apartments

  • An outdoor entertaining area — even if it’s just a balcony

  • Abundant natural light — preferably from north-facing windows

  • Good heating or cooling system — depending on the climate

  • Storage — in the form of cupboards, cabinets, shelving and a shed

Preparing to Put an Offer In on a Home in Australia

You may have just made the big decision to go out hunting for an Australian home to call your own, or you may have already seen the home of your dreams. Before you make the big step of putting in an offer, you can do a few things to ensure you buy the right property for the right price:

  • Add up your expenses and subtract them from your take-home income to see how much you can afford to pay monthly on a mortgage.

  • Ask your lender how much you can borrow to buy a property.

  • Be clear about what you must have in a property, what you’d like to have if possible, and what you could live without — especially if you’re buying with someone else.

  • Have a hard-headed friend come with you to look at a property that you’re seriously in love with and research similar properties nearby to gauge what’s a fair price to offer.

  • Drive by the property at peak traffic times, at night and on weekends to get a feel for the neighbourhood at different times of the day and the week.

  • Attend at least two open-for-inspections at different times of the day to see how the light moves through the property, and how it feels at different times of the day.

  • Talk to a neighbour or two to get a sense of the local community and, perhaps, some information on why the owners are selling.

  • Test out the drive from the property into work and back, or the time it takes on public transport.

  • Get a building inspection done on the property to discover any major structural problems that could cost you lots of money down the track.

  • Set a top price you’re prepared to pay — and stick to it.

  • Find yourself a good solicitor or conveyancer to look over the contract of sale.

Smoothing the Move into Your New Australian Home

After the excitement of finding and putting in a successful offer for your new property in Australia, follow these steps to an organised and anxiety-free move into your new home.

Six weeks before:

  • Sign and exchange contracts on your new home with the vendor.

  • Take out insurance on your new home if you’re not confident that the vendor has the property insured.

  • Begin keeping a record of your incoming mail to notify senders of your new address.

Five weeks before:

  • Finalise your moving date, avoiding weekends or school holidays if possible.

  • Contact removalists to organise the actual move.

  • Book some time off work for a few days before and after the move.

Four weeks before:

  • Throw out or give to the local op shop anything you don’t need to take to your new home — or have a garage sale.

  • Prepare a list of everything you’re taking to your new house and divide it into what is going into the removal truck and what you’re taking yourself.

  • Begin packing in labelled boxes those treasures you can live without for the next month.

  • Whether you’ve been renting or you’ve sold your property, contact a cleaner to give the property a professional clean, including steam-cleaning the carpets, after all your belongings are moved out of the house.

Two weeks before:

  • Pack together in a safe and easily accessible place important documents such as passports and anything to do with your new home.

  • Contact schools, libraries, your bank and insurance company about your change of address.

  • Confirm settlement progress with your solicitor.

One week before:

  • Notify your post office to have your mail redirected to your new address.

  • Arrange to have the power/gas/telephone and water utilities disconnected and reconnected in your new home.

  • Send ‘change of address’ cards to family and friends.

  • Ask friends to help with pets and children on moving day.

Two days before:

  • Empty and clean out the fridge.

  • Pack a box of items that you know you’re going to want to have handy when you get to your new house, such as a kettle, teabags and cups, and soap and towels.

  • Check with your solicitor where to drop off your old keys and pick up your new keys on settlement.

  • Confirm disconnection/reconnection dates with your utilities.

  • Confirm removal arrangements with your removalist.

On moving day:

  • Check the property just before handover to ensure the cleaners have left it spick and span.

  • Pick up your new set of keys.

  • Set up the beds first in your new home, plus a couch if you can.

  • Relax, and celebrate being in your new home.

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