Are you ready for 2014?
Now that a brand new year is upon us I thought a list of New Years tips might assist those purchasers out there in the market, getting a headstart before the listings hot up here in Sydney. Traditionally, the first 2 weeks of January are subdued, as vendors who are to list are still packing away Christmas decorations and winding down from their beach/camping trips over summer. Selling agents, on the other hand, are busy walking the streets, door-knocking, cold-calling and employing various other strategies to persuade would-be sellers to list with them. It’s a competitive world in the land of real estate, and given the average number of days on the market for Sydney real estate is at an all time low across many suburbs (particularly those in the sub $800K price brackets) good listings certainly aren’t fading in any agency windows! These days, even for those who do advertise the old-fashioned way, those window photos are more often than not redundant by the time they make it to the display. The internet has made everything faster, property sales included.
Knowing all of this, however, doesn’t help those who are in the market for the first time. It can be a dog-eat-dog world, and if you’re not prepared, researched and confident, it can be all too easy to see the property of your dreams fade away, one after the other. Weeks roll into months, weekends become an endless shuffle of open inspections, information-overload and disappointments and the initial shine of househunting soon disappears. Buying a home needn’t be so painful, however, if you stick to my list of House Hunting New Year Resolutions. Be prepared, realistic and confident and you will come out a victor!
1. GET IT FINANCED FIRST: It sounds like commonsense but most house hunters do this AFTER locating their favourite property. It’s then a mad scramble to see which broker can do it fastest, how many times the vendor will extend the cool-off period before offing you for another buyer and how to sell those shares asap to access the so-called liquid funds for the required 10% deposit. Do yourself a huge favour and obtain a pre-approval at the very least before even driving past a FOR SALE sign. You’ll save a whole lot of potential grief.
2. KNOW THE LOCAL VALUES: This is essential as you need to know, even without a price tag, how much or in what price range a property sits in the market. This involves being active and attending as many properties as possible, keeping an eye on recent sales and buying data from companies such as RPData, Residex and APM. It also involves staying in touch with agents on a regular basis to be kept updated on price results as not all are published publicly upon sale.
3. BE PREPARED TO COMPROMISE: Unless money is no object you will need to work out what is most important for this purchase. Write a list of Essential Features and Preferable Essentials and take this with you as a checklist to each property. After a number of inspections (this will range, depending on where you’re looking and what stock levels are like) you will soon be able to ascertain if you’re being realistic or have “pie in the sky” expectations about what your budget can really buy. Remember that no property is ideal and most buyers end up compromising on something whether it be size, aspect or features.
4. HAVE A PLAN: So many buyers rush in, without a clear plan, when buying property. Ensure you have a plan set up for what happens after you find the right property. Who’s reviewing the contract for you? What inspections do you need (building/pest/strata/pool or specialised eg: engineer/structural reports)? What do you need to know about the property before making an offer? Is everything working (have you tested it)? What are your preferred terms? How can you stand out as a preferable buyer to the vendor? How do you access funds for your deposit and how is this payable? If for investment purposes, who is going to manage the property? What insurance company have you decided on? Will you be available to inspect the property prior to settlement? So often, failing to plan can result in deals being lost, more organised buyers jumping the gun on you and stress that you don’t need. Be organised!
5. GET A SECOND OPINION: If buying on your own without an advocate, ensure you obtain a second opinion to avoid the old “rose-coloured glasses” scenario and emotional attachment that can cloud judgement with some purchases. No buyer is going to admit they’ve made a mistake after the deal is done, but having an impartial third party to offer an opinion can sometimes be helpful in establishing some home truths about a property that may have otherwise been overlooked.
6. ENJOY THE PROCESS!: It may seem obvious to those of us who enjoy inspecting and the challenge of finding “the right one” (and what a great feeling it is too, when you walk in and get that delicious vibe!) but not everyone does. Being organised, realistic and financially ready is one thing but approaching property buying with a positive attitude can make an enormous difference. Remember to take it all in, enjoy the journey and don’t inspect properties unless you’re in the right frame of mind.