So you’ve been saving for years, you have a deposit ready and waiting and now you’ve started the long and arduous hunt for the perfect house. Like Leonardo DiCaprio dragging himself through the icy void in The Revenant, you’ve spent all of your spare nights and weekends trawling the housing market. But have you really considered everything before setting forth into that hostile territory? Or are you just trudging along, driven by the initial excitement of the prospect of owning your first home?
Here are a few things to consider before warming up your paddle arm at the nearest auction:
Where do you want to live? Location is always a hot topic when buying your first home, and so it should be. Location can turn a property into an incredible investment; there’s pretty much a whole generation of Sydneysiders who have become millionaires just by owning a house. But it’s not all about potential returns and investment opportunities.
If this is a first home you are buying with a partner or spouse and you plan to have children then this will be your home, and your children’s home. Figuring out what suburb you can/ and want to live in can be tricky. Perhaps you dream of looking at houses for sale in Brighton, just make sure that you still leave funds available to eat out every so often and take a holiday each year.
Make sure you’ve budgeted for Stamp Duty. Sounds simple, and most of the time this will be brought up by whoever is taking care of your home loan. So if it hasn’t come up yet, time to look into that.
While on the topic of budgeting; are you buying a house alone (who can afford that anymore) or are you buying with a partner? If you plan to buy a house with a partner, be sure to have a strong grasp on the reality of the future of your relationship. Having a property caught in the collapse of a relationship can be very costly. Many people are now buying first homes with siblings or friends rather than partners to try and avoid this potential trap.
Have a good look at the property before you make the final decision to buy. And a good look doesn’t mean standing there, nodding your head with your hands on your hips, planning all the DIY jobs you can undertake in “no time”. Have someone assess it if you are unsure. Check for any faults, especially anything associated with water damage.
How much space do you actually need? The great Australian dream used to be to own your own home, with a Hills Hoist in the backyard. Times have changed. Just because a home with a yard is the dream, doesn’t mean it’s the best option in reality.
If you and your partner work long hours, six days a week (to pay off the mortgage), then a house with a yard to mow and a garden to tend to might not be the best option. There are beautiful Townhouses and Apartments available that require less upkeep.
Finally, and don’t laugh at this one, Feng Shui. It’s real. Or at least it might be real. Either way, there is definitely something to it. Make sure that the property you decide to buy has the right feel to it. Take the time to create a happy and positive environment, and if you get a bad vibe from a property don’t trick yourself into buying it because it might come at a good price. It can make a world of difference to your relationships and family, and that is what you are buying the shelter for.
*This article was contributed.