5 essential checks you should do before buying a home.
For most of us, it’s the biggest purchase we’ll every make, yet many home buyers don’t complete the necessary due diligence before signing a contract.
If you want to avoid that sinking feeling, add these oft-forgotten tasks to your home-buying checklist.
1. Visit the house at different times
The ME survey found 58 per cent of property owners spent less than 60 minutes checking out the property they went on to purchase and 36 per cent said they missed picking up issues with a property because “they fell in love with the property and overlooked them”.
It’s important to spend as much time at the property as you can and don’t be shy about requesting a viewing outside the advertised opens.
People often fall in love with a home and don’t think of all the practicalities. They can be swept away with emotion.
I advise buyers to go back for a private viewing, sit on the lounge and contemplate if the space feels right.
You’ll also want to check out the traffic.
2. Talk to the neighbours
We’ve all heard stories about “the neighbours from hell”, so it makes sense to see who’s living next door before you outlay hundreds of thousands of dollars on a home. Not only does this give you the opportunity to size up your future neighbours, these people have front-row views to the house that may become your biggest asset.
Neighbours are gold, see how they like living in the area, ask if they rent or own.
3. Talk to the local council
Making an appointment to chat with the town planner at the local council can save a great deal of hair-pulling down the track.
“It’s always good to find out what’s happening nearby, your neighbours may be planning major renovations or your street may be earmarked for a zoning change.
Use online tools to pinpoint what’s planned for the area. Use landchecker.com.au to check the zone, approvals and rejections for Melbourne properties.
It’s really critical, you don’t want to buy a beautiful home and then find out they’re building a block of apartments next door.
Local knowledge of the area is imperative, and if you don’t have it then you should speak with someone who has.
I also advise buyers to confirm that boundary fences are actually on the boundaries and to check properties for any unapproved works.
The owners might have a deck that has been added, or a shed or workshop built in the backyard without approval or they might have added an extra bedroom or an en suite. You need to know what you’re getting into because council can ask you to demolish unapproved structures.
4. Investigate commute times
It’s not uncommon for people to move house specifically to be closer to their place of work, but don’t just rely on Google Maps or Trip Planner to crunch the commute time.
Consider doing an actual commute from the property you’re interested in.
Arrive in the morning at the time you might leave and then commute to work from there and see how that feels.
Also do a thorough walk around the neighbourhood to figure out how long it takes to get to schools, shops and cafes.
5. Check mobile and broadband coverage
Most of us would be lost without reliable access to our mobiles, computers and other devices yet there are still plenty of neighbourhoods across the country where access is limited, patchy or slow.
With more and more people working from home, poor coverage could potentially be a deal-breaker.
You’ll need to find out if NBN has been implemented in the street and if not, you’ll need to investigate other internet connectivity options such as via cable, ADSL and mobile broadband.
It’s also a good idea to test your mobile reception in different parts of the property as coverage can vary considerably between providers or you may find yourself in a mobile blackspot with no coverage at all.