Buying a home is obviously a big commitment so it’s important to carefully consider the legal and financial implications before you put pen to paper and sign anything.
Here’s five tips as a starting point to bear in mind when considering a purchase.
1. INSPECT THE PROPERTY
The vendor only has to present the property to the buyer at settlement in the same condition it was on the day of the sale. If things in the house aren’t working and you didn’t check them, it will be your bad luck. It’s a good idea to check all appliances and light fittings to give you an idea of the state of the property, and if some things aren’t working it can give you room to negotiate the price too.
2. UNDERSTAND THE ZONING
Land zoning can affect your use of the property. Things to be aware of are flood paths and special building overlays, especially if the property has a basement carpark. Land zoning can also prevent you conducting business on the property so bear that in mind if you plan to run a commercial enterprise from home.
3. BEWARE OF WATER EASEMENTS
It is illegal to build on top of water drains and sewerage pipes without the permission from the water company. By looking at the water easement plan in the contract you will know where you can’t build on because if you build anything on top of an easement the water company can destroy the structure if they need access and you will have to wear the cost.
4. DON’T GET SOLD ‘THE DREAM’
Spacious, well-lit and well-furnished display units are not a representation of your finished off-the-plan apartment. The print will say you can’t rely on what you see in a display unit so carefully inspect the plans. Also, rental guarantees are often not worth the paper they are printed on so do your homework about the rental market in the area and budget for conservative rental estimates.
5. DON’T RUSH, GET ADVICE AND READ THE FINE PRINT
You should ignore any pressure from the real estate agent to quickly sign the contract. Ideally legal advice before signing anything but at least get advice from someone experienced in the property market. Essentially real estate agents are looking out for the seller’s interests not yours so if it’s a private sale take the contract home and sleep on it. If there’s an auction get the plans at least a week beforehand so you can inspect everything. Read the fine print and never assume…buying property is a life-changing decision so one hour spent consulting with someone could save you an enormous amount of grief and money.