Planning to buy a property
Buying a property is a major investment. Getting your first home can be both exciting and stressful. It is a major decision that takes planning and research, and careful budgeting.
Know what you want and can afford
Make a list of:
- your preferred areas
- essential features
- your wish list of non-essential features.
Knowing what you want will help you avoid buying a property that does not meet your needs.
Budget before you buy property
Carefully assess your financial situation and desired standard of living when deciding how much you can afford to repay.
Take into account:
- your circumstances and financial commitments
- any future plans; for example, starting a family could mean a drop in income
- other possible changes, such as interest rate rises or unemployment.
Consider the costs of buying a property, including:
- legal and conveyancing fees
- loan establishment fees
- government charges, such as transfer duty and other taxes
- foreign buyers duty (if applicable)
- building and pest inspection fees
- moving costs.
Also consider ongoing costs of property ownership, including:
- insurance (building and contents) if applicable
- property rates and taxes.
Check for any concessions you may be eligible for, such as:
- first home owners grants for buyers of new homes
- home buyers assistance account
When getting a home loan (or mortgage):
- you do not have to take the full amount offered by the lender. Instead, work out the amount you need and feel comfortable borrowing
- use loan simulators to see how the amount borrowed, the loan period and the frequency of repayments affect the time you will need to pay off the debt
- ask questions about fees and charges
- study the fine print on contracts, brochures and printed material.
You can find budget tools and information about home loans and mortgages on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s consumer website - MoneySmart.
Get informed about the property market
Learn as much as possible about every aspect of the property buying and selling process, and the products and services offered by:
Shop around and compare products and services.
Research the market value of property in your preferred areas by:
- searching the internet
- attending auctions
- speaking with agents
- reading newspapers for auction results.
Do not rush into buying property
Never be pressured into making hasty decisions.
Make sure you are committing to the right property for you. The property inspection checklist may be helpful in comparing properties.
You will feel more confident about your investment if you make an informed decision.
Read property and loan contracts before you sign
You may come across different types of contracts, including loan contracts and contracts of sale.
Read and understand the document before you sign. Make sure you understand all terms, conditions and fine print. If something is unclear, ask for an explanation. If you are still uncertain, seek independent advice before signing.
Ask for any verbal agreement in writing, so you know exactly what you will get and what you are committing to.
Keep a copy of all documents you have signed.
Negotiate price and other property matters
Many terms and conditions with sellers, agents, lenders, legal practitioners and conveyancers are negotiable.
Consider sustainable property features
There is a six-star energy efficiency environmental standard for all new homes, and for renovations, additions and relocations of existing homes.
A house built to a 6 star standard will use about 20 to 25% less energy to heat and cool when compared to a similar sized 5 star house.
This will reduce your energy bills and will reduce the burden on the State's energy infrastructure. It will also help reduce carbon emissions and free up household finances for other uses.
If you intend to install a renewable energy system, you can expect it to meet more of your household energy needs in a 6 star house, as the house will use less energy for heating and cooling, and this will reduce your electricity bills even further.
To find out more see the Building Commission website.
Buying a property checklist
Make sure you have:
- worked out your budget;
- arranged a pre-approved loan if you plan to buy at auction - you cannot make the contract of sale subject to finance if you buy at auction;
- selected your preferred suburb/location;
- worked out what features you want in a property (for example, number and size of bedrooms);
- inspected similar properties in the area and checked sale results in newspapers and online to find out how much they sold for;
- understood the differences between a private sale and an auction;
- established if the property requires a building inspection. If so, make sure you get the results before auction, as you cannot put conditions on the contract of sale at an auction;
- worked out if you need to make the purchase subject to a satisfactory building inspection for a private sale;
- worked out if the property requires a pest inspection. If so, make sure you get the results before auction, as you cannot put conditions on the contract of sale at an auction;
- established if you need to make the purchase subject to a pest inspection for a private sale;
- checked the material provided under the disclosure statement from the vendor. The disclosure statement sets out a list of all the information you should receive before buying a strata titled property and your rights if you do not receive the information;
- received a Contract for Sale of Land or Strata Title by Offer and Acceptance form, commonly called the O & A, and the Joint Form of General Conditions for the Sale of Land, commonly referred to as the General Agreement, when buying an established property;
- developed a strategy for bidding at auction or for making an offer for a private sale;
- asked the agent about any items that appear to be fixtures of the property but could instead be items (personal chattels) which the seller may remove at settlement;
- organised your deposit, so you can pay when required by the agent;
- checked all items you believe come with the property are in good working order and stated on the contract of sale; and
- checked those items on final inspection. Our property inspection checklist may be helpful.
Clever scammers have pretended to be both sellers and buyers and have walked away with thousands. Make sure you are aware of their tactics to prevent yourself losing your home. Read more on our property scams page.
Illicit drug laboratories
There have been a few cases of houses being used as clandestine drug laboratories. If an agent is aware of a property’s previous use as a drug laboratory, they must take due care in ascertaining and declaring material facts because it may affect a prospective buyer decision to buy the property.