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6 tips for finding your dream home without the hassle

28 Apr 2017

As a new buyer on the market, it can be very tempting to dive straight into the show house circuit, but a little preparation can go a long way towards finding that perfect home.

“It’s easy to be won over by a particularly stylish property, or be put off by a home with décor that isn’t to your personal taste, but be careful not to let aesthetics blind you to the bigger picture,” says Rawson.

This is according to Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, who shares his tips on house hunting for a property that "lives up to all your hopes and dreams".

1. Be realistic about your needs and priorities

“There’s a lot more to defining your needs than choosing the right neighbourhood, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and parking spots you’d like - you also need to consider things like realistic budgets, lifestyle choices and future needs,” says Rawson.

When setting a budget, Rawson says you should avoid your maximum spending capacity, leaving a healthy financial buffer to cover repairs and maintenance, moving expenses, and any future interest rate increases. He says it is important to be honest with yourself about your spending behaviour, lifestyle choices and needs.

“There’s no point buying a home for the person you wish you were instead of the person you are,” says Rawson.

“If you struggle to save, acknowledge that and be conservative on your mortgage, and if you love green spaces, but have a black thumb, avoid high maintenance gardens unless you can afford a gardener. You may dream of being a DIY fundi, but unless you actually have some aptitude for renovation management or handiwork, buying a fixer-upper is not going to make you happy.”

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for any growth or lifestyle changes at all, looking to the future is essential for long-term investments like property, says Rawson.

“Using the same checklist for all the properties you view allows you to compare apples to apples when making a decision, and ensures you don’t miss an important factor that will have you kicking yourself down the line.”

“It’s definitely important to consider future needs as well as those of the present. This could mean choosing a good school district in spite of the fact that you don’t yet have children, or looking for work-from-home facilities to give you future flexibility in your career,” says Rawson.

“I always recommend thinking at least five to ten years ahead and ensuring the properties you view can accommodate your life plan.”

2. Use an estate agent

Once you’ve defined the essential features you’ll be looking for in a property, and have narrowed down your search area to a few suburbs that tick the right boxes, it’s time to get in touch with an estate agent who is active in the area.

 “By going directly to an agent and sharing your requirements, you can be first in line when a suitable home hits the market. That can be very valuable when you’re competing against other buyers with similar needs,” says Rawson.

3. Don’t be fooled by aesthetics

Humans are visual creatures and will judge books by their covers to some degree, but Rawson says you should not give superficial aesthetics too much weight in your property decisions.

“It’s easy to be won over by a particularly stylish property, or be put off by a home with décor that isn’t to your personal taste, but be careful not to let aesthetics blind you to the bigger picture,” says Rawson.

When setting a budget, Rawson says you should avoid your maximum spending capacity, leaving a healthy financial buffer to cover repairs and maintenance, moving expenses and any future interest rate increases. He says it is important to be honest with yourself about your spending behaviour, lifestyle choices and needs.

“Don’t compromise on your essentials, but remember that new furniture and a coat of paint can go a very long way towards transforming an ugly duckling into a swan, and pretty finishes and trendy designs also don’t guarantee a problem-free, well-maintained home.”

4. Look a little deeper

There’s nothing worse than getting your hopes up, only to discover a heap of expensive problems underneath the surface of what you thought was your dream home. To avoid ending up in this situation, Rawson says to look a little deeper when viewing a property with an agent.

“Don’t be shy to really look under the hood, so to speak - open doors and windows, look into corners and cupboards, check under sinks and in roof spaces and feel the walls for damp,” says Rawson.

“Feel free to ask questions about a home’s maintenance history as well, although the seller’s agent may need to get back to you on that if they don’t have the information on hand.”

Of course, he says it’s important to be respectful if you hope to make an offer down the line, so try to keep your investigations as polite and non-judgemental as possible.

“You don’t want to alienate the seller or their agent, but you also don’t want to spend time and money making an offer and having a professional home inspection done if you could have spotted a deal-breaker problem yourself early on,” says Rawson.

5. Use a checklist

There are countless things to look out for, check up on, and consider when viewing a home, and it’s easy to overlook things in the heat of the moment. To help you track all the details and make sure you don’t miss anything important, Rawson says you must use a pro-house-hunter’s secret weapon, a checklist.

“By going directly to an agent and sharing your requirements, you can be first in line when a suitable home hits the market. That can be very valuable when you’re competing against other buyers with similar needs,” says Rawson.

“A good checklist will list every aspect you’ll want to take note of relating to a property, from the neighbourhood to interior and exterior features, security, maintenance, ambiance and possible questions to ask the owner or agent,” says Rawson.

“Using the same checklist for all the properties you view allows you to compare apples to apples when making a decision, and ensures you don’t miss an important factor that will have you kicking yourself down the line.”

6. Finally, don’t give up

This may be the most important part of any successful house hunt.

“It’s easy to get disheartened when you’re not finding what you want, or your offer hasn’t been accepted, but remember, the next home you see could be the one that’s meant for you,” says Rawson.

“Keep looking, keep trying, and keep in touch with your agent - it may take some time, but your new home is out there, waiting for you.”

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