20 Things you should look out for before you buy property
Whether you’re a first home buyer entering the market, or an investor, buying property is a big decision which requires a great deal of time and research to find the perfect place to suit your needs. Even with the help of services like Urban.com.au and other real estate discovery platforms, it’s important to have a checklist in mind to ensure you’ll be happy with your choice years down the track.
To help with your search, we’ve compiled a list of key considerations to take into account when buying property in Australia. (If we’ve missed anything, please feel free to let us know in the comments).
Dodgey cladding can lead to a string of financial problems as well as health and safety risks. Recent discussion around materials which pose significant health risks (such as asbestos and combustible cladding) has made buyers more aware of the importance of good quality and proven materials in construction. It’s important to identify which materials your apartment has been built with, and to do your due diligence to gauge how many decades the building is likely to last; what chemicals and materials have been used; and whether they’ve been tested and meet the latest building standards.
Retrofitting insulation can be a costly and labour intensive task, so it pays to check your new home has been insulated effectively before purchasing. New off-the-plan apartments often strive for optimum health and wellness of residents, which means the buildings are likely to follow greater insulation methods, however older structures (or poorly built apartment complexes) might need a little more scrutiny!
Today, double glazed windows are becoming increasingly prevalent in new builds, and are a feature that owners of older buildings may wish to upgrade after purchase. Not only do they provide effective insulation, but the double glazing also acts as a second barrier of noise protection, which is perfect for inner-city living.
Watertightness can be a major issue in older buildings and can cause irreversible damage if left unaddressed, not to mention the growth of mould and mildew which can present major health risks for the occupants. Check ceilings, dark corners and closed spaces for signs and smells of dampness, and inspect the exterior for discolouration and erosion. Check the seals of windows as gaps can result in leaks and condensation.
#5 The overall quality of construction
It pays to do your research as to who the architect, builder and developer are – check their track record of previous builds, seek advice from others who have bought property off the same developer and ask for in-depth information regarding where they have sourced materials, fixtures and appliances. If buying off-the-plan, it could be a good idea to take a look at the developer’s latest completed projects and check whether the finished product reflects the proposed renders to gauge the accuracy of getting what you’re being sold.
#6 A decent number of light fittings, power outlets
As with insulation, retrofitting electrical outlets can be a challenging and costly task. Think about how you’re going to be using the space – can you plug in a lamp without running an extension cord across the room? Have enough lights been installed in the bathroom?
#7 Quality of appliances and fittings
When buying a new off-the-plan apartment, you have the luxury of being able to choose a property which comes with brand new appliances. Research the brands, and read reviews about the longevity of the product, functionality and quality.
It’s important to think about any unusual smells you might experience while viewing a property. Can you identify any strong chemicals, mould or odours? If so, find the source and determine whether it’s an easy fix or not.
If buying off-the-plan, a bathroom with opening windows is always preferable as it provides a great sense of airflow and reduces the chance of mould due to dampness and poor ventilation. Check whether windows are fixed or opening, and ensure there is adequate ventilation in the kitchen (such as an opening window or rangehood).
Visit the apartment at different times of the day and listen for noise. Can you hear the hum of traffic? Is there a barking dog next door? Is your apartment right next to the communal lift?
Spend time getting to know your future neighbourhood. It’s a good idea to walk (not drive) from the property to see what is located within comfortable walking distance nearby. Find the local park, supermarket, cafes, and public transport options. Can you see yourself enjoying living in this area?
You may wish to undergo a building inspection or bring someone along to the viewing who has knowledge of building materials. Check the quality of every facet of the property – from the fabric of the drapes to the grain of timber used on the floor.
#13 70:30 ratio of owner-occupiers to the investor
A common idea is that a larger percentage of owner-occupier apartments can result in the better overall maintenance of an apartment building. Some say that you should aim to find a place which is filled with 70% owner-occupiers to 30% investors.
While you can change most physical attributes of an apartment, the positioning, and views you cannot. Choose a view which makes you feel inspired, happy and it’s always worth it to pay a little bit more for a better view.
#15 Kitchen layout important if you like entertaining
For foodies and entertainers, spend time thoroughly checking the kitchen, and make sure the layout with compliment your requirements. Is there enough bench space? Are the benches well suited to your height? Is there enough pantry space?
#16 Natural light
Natural light is key for inspiring productivity and for overall happiness and wellbeing. Check what times of the day each room receives natural light and whether it fits with your schedule. Eg. if you work in the evening, you might prioritise the morning sun.
When it comes to selling your apartment in future, having a carpark will entice a broader market of prospective buyers. While it may be an extra upfront cost, you may see a higher return in future.
#18 Privacy and security
Imagine returning to your apartment late at night – is it a place you would feel safe to come home to? On-site security or a concierge provides extra safety and added value to an apartment.
#19 Rental yield
If you’re looking to rent your property in the near future, seek a range of opinions regarding rental value. Figure out whether the rental return with cover the mortgage and/or provide ancillary income.
#20 Potential for valuation increase
Probably one of the most important factors when purchasing property is the location. Consider whether the area has seen a recent increase in house prices, development or popularity. Thriving neighbourhoods with great amenity are a great option, as they are likely to hold value. To score more of a bargain, keep an eye on developing neighbourhoods and purchase before property prices skyrocket.
Questions to ask yourself
Will it stand the 10-year test?
Can I visualise myself living there?
Who would my neighbours be?