5 things to look out for when buying a house
When we’re looking to buy a house, there are so many things we should be checking. Yet at the same time, we are often lead by our hearts, and are won over by the first impression of a house.
If you’re new to the game, you have to have your wits about you, because some of these sellers are cunning! They know that the smell of warm bread and home made baking will ignite that homely feel, and lure you into a sense of trust and comfort. Freshly brewed coffee will be familiar to you and let your mind drift away to how relaxed you are at your local cafe. A strategically placed throw rug or fluffy pillows instantly tell you this could be your new home.
Ah Yes! You can definitely see yourself living here, sipping a wine on the couch, with your feet up after a busy day at work.
All of these feels are important. After all this could well be your new home and the place you will spend a lot of time, and create some awesome memories. However, this is not the time to let your emotions take over.
First you have a few check boxes to tick, to make sure it’s a dream worthy home.
1: The layout, size and liveability
Look at the house with a practical mind. Does the layout work? Are the bathrooms close to the bedrooms? Is the laundry easily accessible to the outdoors where you’d hang out your washing? What about the indoor outdoor flow? Does the kitchen have a useable layout? Will your fridge fit in the kitchen? Are there enough bedrooms/bathrooms/living areas? Can the size of each bedroom accommodate the people who will be living there?
2: The structural integrity
Of course if you put an offer in on a place you will be having building and pest inspections done. However at the initial viewing you can still check a few things yourself just to make sure the house doesn’t throw up any red flags.
Check for any signs of moisture, past or present. Pay particular attention to any wet areas, like bathrooms, toilets, kitchen and the laundry.
Are there any warps or cracks in the floors or ceilings?
Check for any inconsistent pools of water as you walk around the yard. Are there any cracks in the exterior walls?
You may get some indicators from the doors. For example if they don’t close properly you could check to see if they have any water damage, or are swollen at the bottom. They may be hanging offset, which could just be a need for their hinges to be tightened, or it could be a bigger problem like a slight move in the foundation.
Are there any alarm bells when you look at the electrics and gas?
As I mentioned, these are all things that will be checked by professionals if you advance with an offer, however any obvious things that can be picked up now, could save you time and money down the track.
3: The neighbourhood & proximity to things
Even if your home was absolutely perfect…it would be really inconvenient if it was in the middle of nowhere. Imagine how you would cope if it took you hours to get to work each day. Would you be ok if it meant a full days outing just to have a coffee with your friends, or go to the gym or your favourite restaurant that you frequent each week, or whatever it may be.
If you rely on the tram to get you to work each day, then check how far you are from the station, or buses.
If you like to buy your food fresh daily, then are you close enough to markets or a grocery shop to be able to do this?
Finally, is the neighbourhood one that you could see yourself living in? If having a few beers with the neighbour while watching the footy on a Sunday afternoon is important to you, then don’t buy a place in the middle of an industrial area. Likewise, if you like to relax in a quiet backyard watching the stars at night, then don’t buy next to a pub that has live bands playing every night.
It may seem obvious, but sometimes we can let our heart rule and make emotional decisions.
4: Room to grow
We’ve touched on the layout and size of the house, but when you’re ticking off this check box, try to think into the future too.
Do you have room to grow in this house?
If you plan on getting a dog, is there a decent sized backyard? Can kids fit in the house? Does it matter if there’s a staircase? Can you survive on one bathroom or would it be better to look for a place with an ensuite too? Can you compromise on the home office if it means converting it to a bedroom should the need arise?
The reality is that your needs will change in the years to come, and if they don’t but you decide to sell, chances are the next people will be looking for room to grow. For resale reasons it’s still good to look into the growth potential of the house you buy.
Last, but in no ways least, can you still afford the house if something unforeseen happens? What if you had a drop in income, or interest rates rise? It’s always a good idea to put in a greater deposit than the minimum and to try to pay more than the minimum repayments each week.
You never know what’s around the corner!
There’s no point having a beautiful home if you have to sit in the dark eating 2 minute noodles every day because you have no money left for basic living costs after paying your mortgage.
Buying a house can be a real emotional rollercoaster.
Letting your heart rule your head can cost you a lot of money, so it’s always good to have an unbiased friend or family member there to help, or hire a buyer’s agent. You will save money in the long run, as well as time and sanity!