Talk to real estate agents and your mortgage broker to get a sense of what’s happening in the local area. Make sure you understand how properties are valued and how that differs from what the list price may be.
3. Take the time to sniff out any issues with the property
Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, you need to make sure it has no nasty hidden surprises. Smell for mould, and animal-related odours. Knock on walls to see if they sound hollow. Open the dryer and the dishwasher – you never know if pests are living in there.
Does the toilet flush properly? Does the heating/air-conditioning work? Is the flue functioning above the fireplace? Is the water pressure okay? Do the appliances work? Does the studio out the back have council approval?
Ask questions, and don’t be afraid of asking more.
4. Work with experienced professionals
With such a big purchase, it makes sense to surround yourself with experts. Hire the most thorough, licensed home inspector you can find to pinpoint any issues that could potentially end up becoming costly repairs.
Work with a mortgage broker to ensure your finance is structured to meet your needs, and talk to a financial adviser about the realities of home ownership. To avoid conflict, make sure your lawyer is not also representing the seller.
5. Use your head, not your heart
Many good things in life come from following your heart. Property ownership is rarely one of them.