Know exactly what you’re looking for when buying property

At an early stage in your house-buying plans you will need to make numerous decisions.   In order to help you, I have broken down some tips for what to look for when buying property that home buyers and investors need to take into consideration.

Subject to your budget, choose a suburb and property that suits your lifestyle or investment needs.

Residential home buyers

Choosing the type of house you want requires you to determine what you actually need and what your long-term goals are. You will need to think about the following:

Is this your dream home or a stepping stone?
Realistically, how long will you be living in the house?
Are you planning to have children?
Is the distance to work more important than having a garden or a big house?
Do you have the time, skill, patience and money to renovate or build a new house?
There will always be a trade-off between your needs and wants. Think carefully about what you really need and be honest about your own lifestyle and capabilities. All members of the household should be in agreement on basic needs.

If you work long hours or spend lots of time socialising at cafes or restaurants, a smaller home or apartment close to work may be more suitable than a large house that requires gardening and maintenance. If you are planning to start a family, maybe a quieter suburb close to parks might be more appropriate.

It’s a good idea to make a list of the features that you need and want in your home. You may wish to classify these features into “essentials” and “extras”, or to prioritise the features in terms of how essential they are to you and your family. You will never come across a house with every feature you want, and at some stage you may have to sacrifice one feature to get another.

If you are planning to be in this house long term, say for more than six or seven years, you will need to think about your future needs, especially if you have or plan to have children. Not only will the children like to have their own bedrooms, you may want to have an area into which you can escape, which makes open-plan houses unsuitable for the growing family. If the house has inadequate room, make sure that its floor plan is suitable for modification or an extension.

Investors

What sort of property do you want to invest in?
What is your financial position?
Do you want to be involved with an owners corporation?
Do you enjoy organising tradespeople?
Do you want to be able to drive past your property?
Location is essential. Good consistent capital growth is achieved in most areas where there is a stable and diverse economy. For that reason, inner-city areas are preferable to country or regional towns with a small population, and where the economy may be based on a single factor.

Once you have decided on a location, the area should be examined in terms of both the attractions and detractions of the immediate environment. In general, tenants dislike properties that have the following:

Railway at the back fence
Next door to public toilets
Facing a busy road
Small bedrooms with no built-in wardrobes
No off-street parking
Small living area
Small outdated bathrooms
Lack of heating and/or air-conditioning
No balcony or courtyard
Properties should be handy to:

Public transport
Shops
Schools
Parks or water
Areas of employment
Within sought-after “lifestyle” locations
In established residential streets

Written by Melissa Opie of Keyhole Property Investments for Property Observer on 30 May 2012.

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