House hunting can be the most exciting part of the whole home-buying process. Whether you are a first-time buyer, upsizing, downsizing or building your property portfolio, the decision to invest in bricks and mortar should never be taken lightly, you must never let emotions cloud your judgment.

Finding the right balance of enthusiasm whilst keeping a healthy level of detachment if the key because whether it is for yourself or potentially to rent out, it is an investment, after all -- and a large one at that.

The following house-hunting tips are here to help you navigate the process like a veteran, even if it's your first time, so let’s start at the very beginning:

Before You Start Shopping

People get very overwhelmed with the process of buying a home. There are a lot of emotions involved, including fear of missing out, it can become very time consuming and exhausting, and as time is at a premium for just about everyone nowadays, here is a quick checklist on how you can make the process of finding a home as quick and easy as possible.

Your Finances

How much you can afford to pay will have the biggest impact on what you can look for. We advise that you start by speaking with a bank or financial institution or mortgage broker, so you know exactly how much you’ve got to spend.

This is also an opportunity to shop around for the best loan and be realistic about what you can afford.

Identify Your Housing Needs

House hunting can be tricky. Finding exactly what you want, at the price you can afford, has no doubt, sent many couples into therapy. We recommend that you start with a checklist of the essentials the home must have to make it onto the list and remember if you are buying a property with a partner, communication is the key.

You need to determine the features that are non-negotiable and those that are desirable but may not be deal-breakers. For instance: Location is this a non-negotiable? Remember that even after many years the location of the property is one of the key points that will never change. Its geographical location, i.e. distance from the city, beaches, schools, shops, etc. will remain practically the same. It’s not just about the suburb, but you also need to consider the street and your immediate neighbours.

Some other key factors to consider may include:

  • How many bedrooms do you really need? Does that include a study?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • What style of house do you prefer?
  • One-story home or two?
  • How big i.e. square metres?

Research your market

There is no point in wasting your time looking at properties or even suburbs that you just can’t afford. Taking the time to research your market can help you narrow down your search and help your quickly learn to spot the difference between a well-priced property or one that is overpriced. The additional knowledge of the true value of value of homes in the area you wish to purchase will be one of your greatest assets.

Consider the experience of experts when deciding which areas to target and what sort of home to buy, your local Property Guru agent will be more than happy to help and to give you a print out on what properties have recently sold for in your areas of interest, just drop us a line.

Time to go hunting

Now, while house hunting can be fun, the process can be frustrating especially if you keep missing out on the perfect property. Establishing a good rapport with a local real estate agent, such as your Property Gurus Agent, in your target area is worthwhile. If an agent knows what you are looking for, they can help ensure you are one of the first people they contact about newly listed properties that match your criteria.

We have created a handy house hunting checklist to help guide you through this process, download your copy here.

Understanding the various sales method

Usually, residential property in South Australia is sold via one of two methods:

  1. Auction: a sale, by an auctioneer, in which property is sold to the highest bidder
  2. Private treaty: this is where a sale is negotiated directly between the parties by their agents.

Understanding how both methods work, will make the home buying process easier.

Typically, when you bid at an auction, there are no negotiations or conditions after the auction. You are agreeing to purchase the property, for the amount you bid within usually the next 30 days. This means you must have carried out any pre-purchase inspections before you place a bid.

Private treaty, on the other hand, is usually when a property is offered for either a fix price or within a price range. You can make an offer, of any price, with any condition, such as ‘subject to finance’ or ‘subject to building inspection’.

Building inspections

In today’s world of “buyer beware”, building inspections are becoming a normal condition of sale.

The inspector will thoroughly check out your home and notify you of any problem areas that need rectifying or touching-up. These reports can save you thousands of dollars down the track, so they are worth every cent.

If you’re planning to bid on a property at an auction, the building inspection needs to be done prior to the auction so that you have enough time to consider its findings before auction day.

The Negotiation

Once you have found THE property, it’s time to act. Whether the property is going to auction or is for sale by private treaty, buying a home involves negotiation. Negotiation isn’t a skill that we all have and now you need to act decisively on what the market conditions has to say, and trust that everything will turn out as it should.

Remember that the negation is not always about just the price, the settlement date, terms and conditions all can play a major role in the final sales outcome.

If you are nervous about bidding at an auction or having to negotiate privately with a real estate agent, consider using a buyer agent to handle the process for you.

Pulling it all together

If you stick to your plans, have the discipline of following your home buying checklist and keeping your heart and your head on the same page, the buying process should be made that little easier and help you avoid the mistake of having to settle for something that’s not quite right.

Whilst the final effort is all up to you, the day should come when you find the property that ticks all the ‘must haves’ on your home buying checklist (and maybe even have one or two of the ‘nice to haves’).

Remember, even though it is a major undertaking, understanding these steps and what is involved can help make buying a home just as fun as moving into it! And your local Property Guru SA is happy to help and guide you along the way.