Buying a house? Top tips for understanding the process of buying real estate

So, you’re ready to buy a house? It’s an exciting adventure, no matter what stage of life you’re at. But the process of buying real estate can be a tricky to navigate if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I’ve broken the process down into what you need to know before you even start house hunting, what to look for and do during house hunting, what happens when you find ‘the one’.

Most major decisions in life require at least a bit of homework, and buying a house is no exception. Don’t be put off. The pain is well-worth it when you turn the key on your new home for the first time.

Before you start house hunting, know your budget

I know, you’re excited about the prospect of buying a home; particularly if it’s your first. You’ve probably already started looking through property listings at local real estate agents or gazing wistfully through the Property Press.

However, and I cannot stress this point enough, it is imperative that you know what your budget is before you even begin looking at listings.

Believe me, there is no point wasting your time looking at houses that are out of your price range. It will only lead to disappointment and discontentment!

Your budget depends on several things and I recommend talking to an expert such as your bank or a mortgage broker to help guide you in this matter.

Top tip: getting pre-approved for a home loan is a great idea as it puts you in the best position to act swiftly when you find the home you want.

Engage the services of a conveyancer

One of the most important steps in the process of buying real estate is getting the legal aspects right.

This is where you need the services of a professional such as a conveyancer or solicitor. A good conveyancer will ensure you keep you on track with legal paperwork, reminding you about important dates and what you need to have completed by then.

Needs and wants

Viewing properties, especially when you’re working, can be time consuming.

One way to speed up the process is to make a list of what you want and need in your dream property. You may think you know what you want in a home, but I would still recommend making a list where you detail exactly what you’re looking for.

Important aspects such as location, type of property and the aspects which are important to you will help you narrow down the list of prospective properties.

The fun bit – house viewing!

Ok, so now you’re armed with your price bracket and a detailed list of what you want in a house, you can go and look at prospective properties.

My top tip for house hunting is to not let emotions cloud your vision. View houses with a keen eye, asking the following questions:

  • What’s the house made of?
  • Is it insulated?
  • What sort of heating does it have?
  • Are the walls and ceilings in good condition?
  • What condition are the electrics in?
  • What’s the plumbing like?
  • Are the spouting and drains in good condition?
  • What about the exterior and garden?

You can answer some of these questions by paying close attention but remember to ask the real estate agent questions. He or she should have a sound knowledge of most aspects of the property and they’ll be able to find out anything they don’t have an immediate answer for.

Time for homework

When you find  the house of your dreams and it meets all the points I’ve mentioned so far, you need to do some homework.

This comes in the form of checking the reports done on the property such as LIM (Land Information Memorandum), builders and engineers reports. These give you important information about the property which will help you decide whether it’s right for you.

As part of the conditions of your mortgage, your bank will insist on getting one of the reports. If you’re unsure how to go about getting any of these reports, ask your conveyancer.

Making an offer

You’ve found ‘the one’ – it’s within your budget, it meets the majority of your points on your list and it’s in a condition that’s acceptable to you.

It’s time to make an offer.

You will need to decide what sort of offer you’re going to make – conditional or unconditional. A conditional offer is the most common type of offer as it protects you legally and sets out certain conditions that must be met. An unconditional offer does what it says on the tin – it’s a straightforward offer with no conditions attached. If you find yourself competing with several other prospective buyers, making an unconditional offer can be more appealing to the vendor, giving you an edge.

If you’re going to make a conditional offer, your conveyancer will help you decide what those conditions might be. Common conditions are based on getting finance, and on the results of any other reports you may have carried out.

Offer accepted

If the vendor accepts your offer,  you’re one step nearer to owning your new home.

First, you and the vendors will need to sign a Sale & Purchase agreement which will set out things such as the settlement date. If you made a conditional offer, those conditions will need to be met by the settlement date.

If you made an unconditional offer, once you’ve signed the Sale & Purchase agreement there’s no going back – for you or the vendor.

Final inspection

This is generally done on the settlement date and is the final and essential part of the process of buying real estate.

It’s easy to get carried away in the excitement of the moment and forget to carry out the final inspection properly. I’ve seen a number of clients overlook the final inspection in their excitement, but if you neglect this part there can be negative implications.

What you need to do, before you start moving anything in, is to walk around the house and property to ensure that it is in the same condition as it was when you signed the Sale & Purchase agreement.

If anything is amiss, you need to contact the real estate agent immediately to see what they’re going to do about it. If necessary, you may need to involve your conveyancer.

If everything is as it should be, you can begin your new life in your new home!

When you’re buying a house, understanding the process of buying real estate is so important. If you have any questions about anything I’ve written here, please feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to answer any questions that will help you realise your dream of owning your own home!

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