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Thinking about buying a home but not sure where to start?

Don’t get yourself down – getting onto the property ladder isn’t as daunting as it looks. The process is a lot easier once you know how it works, which is why we’ve decided to make a little checklist to help you along.

Read on for our 8 steps to a smooth purchase!


The Home Buyer’s Checklist: 8 Tips for a Smoother Purchase

If you’re daunted by the prospect of buying a home, you’re not alone. It’s the biggest purchase most of us make in our lifetime, and the process isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

Fortunately, because buying a home is exactly that – a process – the steps are usually the same every time, and the more times you do it, the easier it gets.

At Hicks Real Estate, we’ve seen our clients through many hundreds of purchases, from both the buyers’ and sellers’ perspectives. So here are our top 8 things you should keep in mind when buying a home. Hopefully they’ll make the process a little easier to picture and plan for!

  1. Finance

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who can afford to buy a home outright, you’re probably going to need some finance.

We won’t go into the details of different finance options here, but one thing that we recommend is getting your finance pre-approved before you even start looking.

Go to your bank or mortgage broker and find out how much you can borrow, and see if you can get pre-approved. This will give you a much more exact budget to work within, and it’ll mean you know you have the funds if or when you decide on a home.

Having to go away and seek finance when you’re competing with other interested buyers can be immensely stressful, and it could mean one of them beats you to the finish line.

  1. Start looking

Some people love house shopping and some hate it. Either way, you’ll likely find yourself going from open house to open house, never quite finding something that perfectly suits you. Don’t fret – something always turns up!

In our experience, finding that perfect home is mostly a numbers game. If you only visit tHicks Real Estatee homes and don’t like any of them, don’t give up. Keep slogging on – and if you’ve got a decent real estate agent who you’re happy to work with, they might also be able to put some feelers out and recommend something for you.

Go to as many open homes as possible, speak to agents and get on their mailing lists. The more you look, the more you’ll find. And remember: if your finance is pre-approved, you’ll know straight away whether a particular home is in your budget, or worth stretching a little extra for.

  1. Making an offer

When you think you’ve found ‘the one’, don’t be scared to make an offer.

The biggest mistake we see is when buyers get cold feet and blame it on ‘waiting for something better’.

While we’re not saying that better deals never come along, if you’ve found something you like and are considering making an offer, it usually doesn’t hurt to just make the offer. It helps you see what mindset the seller is in, and it gives you an idea of what ballpark you should be looking in.

Procrastination can cost you tens of thousands of dollars. At Hicks Real Estate we’ve had buyers who have spent two years looking, during which time the market has gone up by $80,000 – it’s not that they couldn’t find anything suitable, but they just ‘wanted to make sure’. Waiting can be expensive!

But before you make your offer, be certain that you know what you’re getting for your money.

  1. Understand inclusions

Don’t make an offer until you know what’s included in the asking price.

It might not seem like much in the bigger scheme of things, but you’ll need to clarify where the buyer stands on things like curtains, blinds, dishwashers and pool equipment.

In most cases, you’ll want the owner to include as many of these fittings and appliances as possible (unless you’re set on bringing your own), as they represent a fair amount of value, both in outright cost and in what they’d cost to install.

Make sure all these inclusions are clearly stated in the inclusions before submitting an offer, as misunderstandings at this stage could cause a dispute and scuttle your chances of winning the sale.

  1. Make an opening offer, not an insult

So you’re happy with the inclusions and you’re ready to make an offer. Great! A word of warning though – don’t lowball your seller.

Sellers are human just like you, and they’re trying to see some return on their investment.

Too often, we see inexperienced buyers starting with low figures that achieve nothing other than angering sellers. If you’re not sure what number to start with, talk to an agent or do some research.

An unacceptable opening offer will shut most sellers off. Most of the time, they won’t even be interested in allowing you to make a more realistic offer, especially if they feel insulted.

The Home Buyer’s Checklist

Tread carefully!

  1. Negotiating

Ah, negotiation. Exciting, nerve wracking, satisfying and scary.

If your opening offer has established a dialogue with the seller, now’s the time to get your negotiation skills out.

The rule of thumb here is that knowledge is power. As long as you have facts and information to bargain with, you’re in the game.

Whether you’re negotiating directly with the seller or dealing with their agent, approach it with a strategy in mind, and try to back up any counter-offers with reasons and rationalisations.

Remember: if the seller isn’t budging, there’s probably a reason. While this doesn’t mean you should allow yourself to get pushed around, ask yourself if you’re bargaining for the sake of it or if the price really is too high.

  1. Get a good conveyancing lawyer

The legal side of things is what turns a lot of people off buying a home. Who wants to spend their life savings (and then some!) on a home, only to have to go through a whole bunch of legal papers at the same time?

Unfortunately, that’s just how it is. The only sure-fire way of making this part of the process easier is to pick a good conveyancing lawyer. Don’t skimp on this part – you definitely get what you pay for.

Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable local professional who specialises in conveyancing, and make sure they’re good with communication. If you pick a bargain-basement firm for this part, it can drag on and on, and establishing accountability can be an issue.

  1. Completing the transaction

Before your home is technically yours, each party’s banks and solicitors will need to get involved. The real estate agent won’t have any part to play at this stage, but they won’t be able to give you access to the property until both solicitors give written confirmation that the exchange of ownership has all gone through correctly.

Before completing the settlement, you should also make sure that you have a pre-handover inspection to check the property for any incurred damage or defects that might have occurred while all the paperwork has been going through.

These latter stages of the buying process are usually what deter people – but as long as you pay a little for a good lawyer who can help with the bureaucratic side of things, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about.

Purchasing a home seems complicated and time-consuming, and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t. But with the right combination of real estate agents, lenders and lawyers behind you, you’ll be well set for a decent deal with the minimum amount of hiccups or hassles along the way.

If you’ve been thinking about buying a home but aren’t sure where to start, ask Madeleine on 07 3355 6845. We’ll walk you through the process and put your mind at ease – no pressure!

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Hicks Real Estate is a Brisbane based, full-service real estate agency supporting buyers and sell as well as renters and property investors. With almost 20 years experience in the local market, we are the real estate experts you can rely upon.