House hunting can be overwhelming.
Every suburb and every home has its perks and trade-offs and learning where to compromise can be a complex journey.
However, there are some ways you can narrow down the search, to ensure that you make the perfect purchase.
What to buy?
While budget will be a major consideration in any property search, usually there’s a reason behind any move. Maybe you’re a first home buyer getting a foot on the property ladder, a couple upsizing to incorporate a new addition to the family, or empty-nesters looking for a cosier, low maintenance place to call home.
It’s a good idea to write down a list of your key requirements. That way you’ll waste less time looking at unsuitable properties.
Be careful not to hone in too closely on particular property types. For instance, if you are looking to move from an apartment to a house for more space, you shouldn’t ignore larger units or townhouses in lieu of a tiny free-standing house. First-home buyers need to be mindful of how quickly they will outgrow their new space and downsizers need to factor in strata fees, if they are moving from a house to an apartment.
Which area to look in?
It’s all too easy to fall victim to postcodes. Some of Sydney’s glitzy areas get all of the attention but buyers tend to overlook any of their flaws to get ahead of the pack.
It’s vital to actually spend time in an area to understand its benefits and shortcomings. Will you need to go for a long drive to the supermarket every time you run out of milk? Are there so many good schools in the area that traffic during drop-off is unbearable?
On the other hand, does the suburb have so many amenities that a car is optional? Is the commute to work simple and comfortable?
Spend time in the immediate area, chat to neighbours, locals and the agent.
Is it OK?
There are very few properties that are in perfect condition. But to an untrained eye, the line between a quick fix and borrowing large sums of money can be blurry.
Since a home is the biggest investment most people will make, it’s important to complete all pest and building inspections and have the contract checked by your solicitor or conveyancer before you make an offer or bid at auction.
If a house needs repairs, your budget needs to accommodate that repair. And if there are development works, easements or rezoning, it pays to be aware before signing the contract.
What not to compromise on?
No matter how high your budget, and how amazing the property is, there is usually at least one compromise that needs to be made.
But there are certain things that can be impossible to get accustomed to and can turn into deal breakers for some buyers. For instance, noise – like living directly under a flight path or on a busy main road; or lack of natural light which can be difficult to change without spending a lot of money.
On the other hand, paint colour, dated design and lighting can all transform a home without breaking the bank. And houses that don’t look perfect on inspection may have good bones and should not be ruled out.
Each buyer needs to decide what their own property deal breakers will be.
What to pay?
When you first start house hunting it can be difficult to distinguish a well-priced property from an overpriced one.
The best indication of a fair price is comparable sales in the local area. Properties with similar attributes, on similarly sized blocks of land, on similar streets are a good way to start. Keep an eye on auction results, and attend some auctions yourself to get an indication of demand.
House prices fluctuate over time with the market, but a good real estate agent will always provide comparable recent sales to give you an indication of price.
What to do when you miss out on that dream home?
Sometimes auctions do get heated and buyers lose out. That’s no reason to give up on the search. One of the best things to do is to register your details with a trusted agent. There are usually off-market opportunities with vendors who want to make a quick or quiet sale.
The home of your dreams could be just a conversation away.
Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Market Snapshot
A detailed annual assessment of the property market focusing on the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, Australia.