No Olympic athlete just rolls out of bed and hits the arena. Behind the scenes, there’s years of training, self-discipline and a lot of sneakers with worn-out soles.
As the spectator, we only see their moment in the spotlight, when it’s game on and the race is ready to be won.
A similar trajectory can be applied when entering the property market: You’ve worked hard and saved your money. You’ve got pre-approval for a loan. And now you’re ready to enter the house inspecting arena.
But when inspecting properties, what should we be looking for besides a front door that’s still on its hinge?
Buyer’s advocate Hamish Adam of Gertrude & Gore says the first thing potential buyers need to do is “ask themselves a lot of questions about what they’re looking for” and cast a wider net in their property search online.
This doesn’t mean letting go of your home goals but opting for a search that extends a few suburbs out from your ideal location.
“Some people get bogged down on finding a perfect two-bedroom house in Fitzroy with a north-facing backyard, which is great but these properties aren’t always available, so they’re missing out on other amazing opportunities because they’ve got these blinkers on,” he says.
Adam also suggests taking a look at your personal circumstances and lifestyle when searching for a home to establish what type of property will best suit you.
“Some buyers are happy to manage a fixer-upper but some of our clients with families prefer a home that requires less maintenance and that they can easily move into.”
If you lean towards the low-maintenance category, besides inspecting the condition of the home itself, Adam says to look at the condition of the garden.
“These require lots of care and attention,” he says. “If the garden’s overrun or non-existent, this is important to think about because it might require landscape design down the track, which is an added expense.”
When sourcing potential homes for his clients, Adam is not one to dismiss homes that require major repairs. He believes it’s important to “look at the house’s bones before you see its make-up”.
“A lot of properties are dismissed because they look rundown and maybe haven’t received much love over 30 years but it’s amazing what a paint job and polished floorboards can achieve,” he says.
Whether your preference is an older or new build, Adam advocates getting a building inspection to check out the property before you buy.
“Some people have this perception that you shouldn’t get a building inspector on a newer house, but I believe some of these newer builds have more issues than older builds where issues are usually in plain sight,” he says.
Bringing in a building inspector can also help ascertain what repairs are doable to the property.
“If you’re looking to renovate a property, they’ll be able to help you understand how easy or not it would be to renovate, give approximate costings and even tell you if walls are structural or not, which is good advice to have upfront.”
If you’re lucky enough to buy the home you’ve set your eye on, Adam also suggests negotiating the settlement terms.
“When buying a house, it’s important to get settlement terms right and have access to the home before you settle,” he says.
This is especially useful if you plan to renovate or repair the home. “You can then pre-plan and get your building quotes done ahead of time so on the day you move in, you’re ready to go.”
For more tips on how to get your property ready for sale, read Domain’s ultimate guide to selling your home.