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House-Hunting Tips: What to Look for When Buying A House

20 January 2022 | Investment

Buying a house can be an exciting yet stressful time. After years of saving and being approved for finance, you’re ready to buy a house. Congratulations! But where to begin? There’s a lot involved in buying a house, from bank loans/mortgages, deciding what area to buy in, finding an agent etc.

A home you view might be beautifully styled and seem like it has everything you want, but in all your excitement, you might miss things that end up costing you in the long run. We’ve compiled a simple list of things you should look out for when buying your home to take off some of the heat and give your mind a break.

Location

You may already know of or even live in the area you want to buy in. That’s great! If not, take a look at your budget and look online to see what areas have properties in your price range that would suit your lifestyle.

Depending on the area and number of bedrooms, properties within your budget could vary between a house, unit or townhouse.

Size

The size of your home is usually one of the earliest decisions you will make when figuring out what you’re looking for in your new home.

How many bedrooms do you need? What’s your ideal amount of bathrooms and toilets? How many people are in your family? Or are you planning to expand that number soon?

Determine things like whether having an en suite, as well as a separate bathroom and toilet, are important to you.

Maybe you’re someone who likes to entertain and will frequently have guests over. You might be a small family who prefers just one living space, or perhaps you prefer to have two living areas to separate kids and adults.

You should evaluate these critical questions when mapping out your ideal new home.

Yard

The size of the home itself isn’t the only thing to consider. Yard space can make a huge difference in a home, depending on your lifestyle. If you have an outdoor pet, you’d probably prefer a big yard for them to run around in. Or, if you have young kids, a more oversized yard might suit their outdoor play habits.

You might also want to consider your lifestyle, and whether or not you have the time or interest to maintain an ample outdoor space. If gardening is one of your hobbies, this might make yard space a top priority.

It’s also important to consider the condition of the yard. Are things like garden taps and drains in good condition? Check out the condition of any other outdoor structures, like a patio or shade, if there is one.

Bathrooms

When you start to inspect homes, you’ll want to check things like toilets, taps and drains. It’s great to ask permission from whoever shows the house before doing this! We recommend flushing toilets, testing the taps and observing the drainage to ensure everything is in working order. This could save you time and money on repairs later.

You should also keep an eye out for mould in bathrooms, and check that the exhaust fan is working.

Natural Light

Assess the natural light when you inspect the home. Questions you want to ask yourself are:

  • Does the house get much natural light?
  • Is this in places where you want natural light?
  • Are there any street lights outside that shines into bedroom windows?
  • Are there window coverings – curtains, vertical or Venetian blinds

Though vertical or venetian blinds can be great to let some light in whilst maintaining privacy, they can be challenging to clean and may end up being more trouble than they’re worth.

Heating and cooling

In Melbourne, we’re known for experiencing four seasons in one day. No matter the season, our climate is susceptible to extremely cold and warm weather. This can be extremely unpleasant if your home doesn’t have adequate heating and cooling! When inspecting homes, make sure to take note of things like air conditioners and their placement – is there one located in a centralised living area? Will it be able to cool the house adequately?

Ceiling fans can also make a massive difference to a home. Even in winter, they offer air circulation to prevent your home from getting stuffy whilst you try to keep the warmth in.

Parking Availability

How many cars does your family own and regularly use? If you’re a two-car (or more!) household, parking availability is something to keep an eye out for. Does the property have a garage, carport or even driveway for you to park your vehicle in? Remember that your parking availability can affect the premium on your car insurance.

Commute

Surprisingly, commonly overlooked when buying a new home is the proximity to frequented places. If your new home is closer to or further from your place of work, this could alter the time you need to leave in the morning, or even your method of transportation. Assess the new commute time and how this could affect your lifestyle.

Also, take note of the proximity to things like grocery stores, your kids’ school and other places you frequent, such as sporting grounds, gyms or your children’s extracurricular activities.

If you frequently use public transport, look at the location of the nearest bus stop or train station.

Assess the traffic conditions in the mornings/afternoons and how this may affect your daily commute to work.

Inspection Tips

Some things you’ll want to check for when inspecting potential new homes are:

  • Mould
  • Sagging/buckling in ceiling or walls
  • Doors & windows – any panes need replacing? Do they open and close easily
  • Ask permission – check taps, flush toilet
  • Check under rugs to see floor condition
  • Look under sinks at plumbing
  • Hot water system
  • Lights and fuse box
  • Roof, guttering, drains
  • Exterior walls – any cracks
  • Neighbourhood – make sure everything you want close by is there

You want a building inspector to assess defects/ pests, wiring or plumbing issues, asbestos, lead paint etc. Conducting proper inspections early on can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.