How to avoid first home buyer mistakes

There are a pile of pitfalls in the property game, and one of the main ones has to be the risk of buying a complete lemon.

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Of course most bad buys aren’t technically a ‘complete’ citrus disaster, more on the bruised end of the scale. The trick to avoiding the common traps and buying sensibly is to learn from those who’ve been there before and enlisting help from some experts.

Be smart, be a detective, don’t buy a lemon

  1. Go over the property you like with a fine-tooth comb, and then get a building expert to do it too – you could get a building report either before you make an offer or as a condition of your offer. As well as asking your builder what the issues are, get an indication of how much they would cost to fix/replace.
  2. Approach your inspection the same way as taking a car for a test drive. Does everything work? Is there any serious wear, tear or other damage? What’s that weird black mouldy stuff inside that cupboard, behind that door, under the floor and in the roof space?
  3. Try all the taps, light switches and power points. What insulation and heating is there? Use your nose – sniff and sniff some more for damp or any other weird odours. It’s amazing what your sniffer will tell you – it’s one of our most underutilised senses.
  4. Get your detective on and ask the agent all your questions. They’re legally obliged to answer honestly and not to knowingly withhold any information they are aware of about the property.

Major things to look out for include:

  • the condition of the roof,
  • any signs of water damage,
  • the piles,
  • plumbing and wiring,
  • possible drug contamination,
  • drainage and
  • whether boundary fences are placed correctly (you’d be surprised how much land your friendly future neighbours have claimed as their own due to mispositioned fences!)

Take a walk around the neighbourhood… you can change your house but you can’t change your neighbours.

It pays to ask the experts if you have any doubts; the cost up-front could save you a headache and thousands down the track.

Don’t fall in love

Finding a dream home that you can afford after a long house hunt can quickly turn into an emotional attachment that completely eclipses any thought of sticking to your budget.

Don’t let this happen. By getting pre-approved for a mortgage you’ll know exactly how much you can spend and hammer it into your mind that spending a single cent more can lead to total disaster.

When you set your budget, don’t forget to factor in the many ongoing costs associated with buying a house, and include conditions in your offer that will protect you.

Mistakes happen – find a solution & move on

We all make mistakes, but with property the good news is pretty much anything (except a ‘complete’ lemon) can be fixed one way or another – it’s all part of the experience of owning a home, and sets you up for the next time you buy a property. Put it down to experience, find the best solution and move on.