WHAT I LEARNED FROM BUYING MY FIRST PROPERTY
- Written by Melanie Toye, November 1, 2013
It is an exciting time buying your very first property. Showing your family how grown up you are. At just 22 years old, my now-husband and I bought our first property together. It was definitely an exciting time and one we had spent some years saving diligently for.
There were quite a few things I learned from the buying process that I took with me when we acquired our second property, after selling our first.
Understand the fast paced market
We were looking to buy in a new estate with similar style and sized homes. It was seen as the richest location in the suburb. However it was selling at a reasonable price, one of which we could afford, in a location that looked appealing. The issue at hand was, it was our first property. We had been hunting around for what seemed liked the entire state and were not exactly sure where we wanted to live or type of property we wanted. The problem was, these houses in the estate were selling fast. Real fast. We had to make a quick decision and not because the real estate agent said so. It was because if we did not, the properties would be sold regardless of us buying one or not. And so, after showing the parents and seeing the property for the third time, we decided it was the one. That same weekend, thirteen other properties in our street alone, sold.
Lesson learned: Sometimes decisions need to be made quickly. Although it is important to see as many different suburbs and properties etc. before you can know if you want this property or not.
Do not let a contract scare you
Contracts hold so much jargon, it can be hard to even understand a sentence let alone the whole binding documentation once you sign. This is stressful. Let the real estate agent do their job. Ask them, what does this mean? The contract may be relatively small (roughly 15-20 pages). However if it is a new estate, there may be other building requests they have made clear that you cannot build upon, in your soon to be new property. This can include, turning your one-storey home to a two-storey home. As it could affect the layout of the estate, and the housing views and dwellings behind you. It is important you understand these regulations, because if you do something that you signed to declare that you would not, you could be fined a fee of $10,000. (or however much the seller stated in the contract).
Lesson learned: If unsure what the contract is stating, ask the real estate agent to tell you exactly what can and cannot be done to the property. Or ask a lawyer to oversee the contract and give you advice on the elusive details.
Remember the facets you want to change
Once settled in you may soon realise how some of the outlay of the property is simple frustrating. For example, we moved in, bought two beautiful puppies and soon realised once they had grown big and strong, that our steep driveway was very hard to start a walk with our strong dogs.
Lesson learned: Think about every surface of the property. What do you intend to use it for? Do you prefer a steep drive way. Are you looking for a big yard to add in a pool? Is the hill on your front yard hard to mow? Trying to fix these issues can be expensive and is easier to look for a property that ticks all the boxes from the outset.
Check the mechanics of the property
Have you checked every tap and fan works? It can feel intimidating and embarrassing to do this but trust me when I say, if one tap is blocked, you will have to pay for a plumber. If you find this out from the beginning, you can use this to negotiate a lower price.
Lesson learned: Do not feel embarrassed to check everything is in working order and note down what isn't.
Find out the street value and the history of the area
Speak with your real estate agent. I found that some of the neighbours, bought too late in the property market and when the market rose to its peak, they were unable to sell. As they would barely be able to pay the real estate agent fees let alone receive any profits. Learn about the buying and selling prices in the area for the past five years. This gives you a clear indication of movement in the market's history. When it is your first property, the last feeling you want is to feel stuck in the property because you bought it at too high a price. And good quite possibly take 5-10 years before it gets to the amount you are seeking.
Lesson learned: Think of buying this property with a chance to sell in 3-5 years. Is the return on the investment worth the purchase?
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