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December 9th, 2008

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10:47 am - Aha !
We finally have Internets ... yay !
( left hand Optus, meet right hand Telstra ... you guys should try talking sometime ... )

So ... what do rwrylsin and I need to know about buying our first house ?
Those of you who have bought houses, what do you wish you'd known before starting out ?
Current Mood: curiouscurious

(15 touches | En garde !)


[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 12:10 am (UTC)
Try to find a real estate agent you feel comfortable with and work with them to find a place. I got shown through mine before it went on the market and put an offer in. Saved me money, saved the owner money.
I was buying just as the market was working it's way into the boom 2.5 years ago and competition was fierce, may not be the case now.

Budget a lot of time and money to get it to feel like home and fix things that have been left by the previous owners. ("A lot" is variable but it feels like a lot to me)
Stamp duty is scary big and the 1st home owners grant makes it go away. (My heart stuttered a beat when I saw the figure)
Settlement is stressful.
Know your land rates and when they will come due.
Same for water.
Everyone is dumb and will send things to your old address even after you tell them differently, my land rates for this year went to the rental I lived in when I was buying the house, last year they came to the house I live in... know when things are coming due.
Check the hoses under the sink regularly.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
My two cents:

- do your research. Make up a wishlist of what you want in a house *and* neighborhood; then research the streets you want to live in. By the time you finish you'll have narrowed it down and find the best fit for you.

- ignore 80% of what the real estate agents tell you; they're working on commission, remember?

- get the pest / building inspections done, especially if the r/estate agent tells you not to.

Happy hunting!
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 12:27 am (UTC)
All this is based on personal experience and in England ...

1) there are more fees and expenses than you expect. Land registry (twice! once for search and again to register change of ownership), various utility searches, surveys, mortgage money bank transfer fee etc. etc.)
2) In general look at several houses and wait for one to say "buy me" ... though I did exactly that even though the first one seemed perfect, and by the time I realised what a good deal the first house was, it had sold to someone else for less than I had thought of offering
3) in this market, always offer less than their asking price
4) be very clear what is and what isn't included with the house (curtains, carpets, bathroom cabinets, plants in the garden, fish in the pond etc.)
5) be prepared to walk away if it things are getting too complicated
6) it used to be you'd have to offer on an average of five houses before you ended up successfully buying one (chains falling through, gazumping etc.)
7) it used to be an average of 13 weeks between your offer being accepted and actually moving into the house
8) conveyancing solicitors are, in general, lazy and poor communicators, and will tell you they are waiting for the seller's solicitor to pass on paperwork (when they haven't actually asked for it) or will swear they've passed the stuff back to the seller's solicitor (when they haven't) but are still vital to the process (and feel free to haggle over their prices before selecting a solicitor)
9) once your offer is accepted and you exchange contracts you are legally bound to buy the house ... if you back out at this stage there's usually a hefty penalty of 10% or more of the house cost. Exchanging contracts is usually at least four weeks before completion/move in.
10) once you exchange contracts, as you are now legally bound to buy the house, it is *your* duty to have insurance on the building in case it burns down
11) make sure you get the location of the water stop cock, the meters, the day the dustmen come etc.
12) in the UK, if they have a BT telephone line, then provided you arrange to take over the line on the day the other people leave, you don't need to pay a £100+ reconnection fee. Make sure you get that arranged ahead of time or else that can be a nasty surprise. BT may still demand a large deposit though if you don't have a previous relationship with them. Another nasty surprise.
13) when you move in, change the locks (you don't know who might still have a key, possibly even a bag snatcher who kept the keys and the address to come back months later and rob the place) and read the meters and phone the utilities straight away with the readings so you don't end up paying for gas/electricity/water used by the previous owners.
14) make sure you know how to switch the hot water on (there's a whole bunch more stuff about moving in, but most of that is preparation rather than specific to a particular house)
15) is it under a flight path? Does the road get cut off when the local football team is playing? Does the road fill with cars of parents dropping off kids for school?
16) all the things you find out from a good quality survey (damp proof course, sound roof, bulging walls, worrying floorboards, ancient electrical wiring etc.)
17) is it in a cable TV/internet area?
18) what is the mobile phone coverage like in the house for your network? It's really annoying if people can't reach you on the mobile when you're in the garden or in the kitchen.
19) what's the water pressure like in the bathroom? Does the cold water in the shower disappear when someone flushes the toilet? Is there enough hot water on demand for two showers one after the other, particularly if the washing machine or dishwasher is running?
20) are there enough sockets in the right places? (Kitchen work tops, computer room, TV/hifi/gaming/PC area etc.)
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 12:28 am (UTC)
21) is there a decent external TV aerial that can pick up terrestrial digital broadcasts?
22) is there a local pirate radio station or other source of radio noise that will make listening to radio or using electronic equipment difficult?
23) what's the crime rate (particularly burglary and theft from cars) like in that road compared with other areas you might be interested in.
24) is the house in an area that the insurance companies think might flood (particularly due to building on flood planes up/down river and climate change)
25) is it an expensive area for car insurance?
26) is it local for church/school/particular shops/public transport?

Those are the quick ones off the top of my head, if I think of more I'll add them! :-)
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 11:27 am (UTC)
Let me emphasise again that you should get the roof inspected ... the number of property shows I've watched where someone buys a "cheap" house to fix it up and sell it, and then loses money because there needs to be a new roof, new damp course, asbestos removed from roof/garage/heating lagging (yes, make sure there is no asbestos!) etc. well, it seems to happen far more often than you'd expect (maybe because the professional house buyers see the problems and don't put in offers on houses they know will cost them money!)
[User Picture]
Date:December 10th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Very much agreed on 8.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 01:02 am (UTC)

Off the top of my head...

1) Buy or borrow one of those thingies that you plug into the power points and it tells you whether they work or not. This is how we knew when we bought our house that a large number of power points in it weren't wired properly and would need an electrician's (expensive!) fixing before we were comfortable using them.

2) Check how old the hot water service is, and ask what the pipes are made of. Here in Adelaide, my electrical hot water service lasts for ten years or thereabouts.

3) Check whether the toilet is actually cemented to the floor, or whether it is loose or on the tiles

4) If there are floorboards, jump up and down the hallway (or other heavy use areas) to see if it creaks and how much they move.

5) If you get a house with a garden, think about how much effort it will take to water it - are there dripper systems in place (and are they included in the contract)? What about taps? And think about whether you can keep the trees alive obeying water restrictions. You can, but (for example) rainforest trees planted in Adelaide will seek out all your pipes when not watered.

6) While you're at it, check out the regulations for cutting down trees, and whether the council will let you chop down a large tree if it is causing problems.

7) If you can, check the house out when it is raining to look at the gutters for overflow badspots (regular overflow onto woodwork will rot the timber), and for standing water in the garden (for example before we altered the water flow pattern in my backyard, the rainwater tank overflow caused a swamp in one lawn, right outside the back door).
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)

Re: Off the top of my head...

8) Does it have a safety switch in the fusebox - does the fusebox meet other legislated requirements? And how old is it?

9) Where is the fusebox, and can you open it easily in the dark and rain (Murphy's Law)?
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 01:10 am (UTC)

Re: Off the top of my head...

10) If there is a gas hot water service, check how easy it is for the pilot light to go out, especially if it's outside
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
It Will Cost You More.

Yes, even if you check it out carefully. You'll have SOMETHING you want to change, and the cost will be significant.

Right now, it's almost certainly a buyer's market; the recent troubles make people want to sell. Don't overprice yourself.

Set a limit for what you're willing AND ABLE to pay. Don't go over it. EVER.

Check terms of the mortgage VERY carefully. Once you sign, you're locked in.

UNTIL something's signed, you're NOT locked in. If something doesn't feel right, BAIL.

Having a good agent helps. But you need to make sure that's what you've got. Especially DON'T get an agent that might have any connection to the seller.

It's not your home even after you finish paying. You'll be renting from the government. They are not as kind and forgiving as the bank. Remember this, even if their yearly payments are lower.

[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
Dont just go on ads in papers/windows of offices. Work out what suburbs you want and price range and set up alerts on realestate.com.au and domain.com.au thats how I found my house before it was listed in either the real estate guide or the paper. I saw, made an offer, they made a counter offer and I offered something else again and we had a deal. If there is an open house, and you make an offer BEFORE the open house and its provisonally accepted, get them to NOT hold the open house.
Get someone who knows the system to hold your hand. I didnt and thus didnt realise I needed to do stuff until the real estate guy rang me and asked....
Dont discount suburbs you swore black and blue you would never live in.
Relax...and dont die of fright when the bills come in.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 04:49 am (UTC)
With whichever bank you go with, make sure you can deal withthe staff easily at your local branch. See if they make the effort to go out of their way to help you, chances are you'll need them to do this later when refinancing comes along.

Make sure you shop around for who gets your big slab of money, though I know rwylsin should be able to make something happen there, so much of this is probably a moot point.

Also, be aware of the government's current policy to add 17% to anything up to $5000 you put into a first home buyer's account that can be used only for purchasing a home, plus the first home buyer's grant, plus rebates for things like water tanks and solar power, if you're looking to renovate to save money and energy.

Everything else I've thought of has been covered by the lovely people above me.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 08:05 am (UTC)
Get an inspection. Check all fittings, locks on doors (are *all* the keys available?) and windows, cupboard latches, etc. Be anal. I've had to spend thousands on repairs on both houses I've bought. that said, probably wouldn't have enabled me to haggle on the price anyway the market being what it was but it may help. If there are any obvious repairs see if you can add to the contract that these need to be fixed prior to you taking possession - actually getting them fixed is more convenient and easier than haggling on price.

Cross your fingers and hope. There will always be stuff you miss, but just try to minimise it.

The financing bits have been covered I think, and really should be pretty straightforward.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
If you are getting a mortgage, get income insurance. Otherwise a serious injury can cost you your home as well as its other effects.
[User Picture]
Date:December 9th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
In general the online ads are better than the ones printed in the paper, but there are occasional fail of overlaps so it's still worth doing a quick check of both.

Work out your budget before you start looking - seriously, if Dean and I had actually met the mortgage broker and worked out how much we could afford before starting we probably would have bought 3 years earlier.

Definitely do the building/pest inspection - I know it's $1000, but if you're seriously thinking about it it's worth it. If you have a builder friend who can come on an inspection with you it'll save you - but the inspection is a must before you put in an offer. (Just for the record - the highest termite suburbs in Melbourne are in Banyule, Nillumbik and Manningham (I think - it's that other one along the river anyway.))

If a house has the location but the online photos look terrible, check it out anyway. I've seriously seen some absolutely crap advertising of houses that were quite good.

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