Whether you are buying your first home or have prior experience, the process is likely to be emotionally charged and stressful. There are so many things to balance – document gathering, loan applications, home inspections, the highs and lows of attending auctions – that stress is unavoidable. But you can certainly minimise your stress levels with the right amount of preparation and research.
Know what you want
You can spend months or even years looking at houses that don’t match your needs, stressing yourself and frustrating real estate agents by constantly changing your requirements.
“Have a clear idea of what you want and the areas you want to be in at the outset so you can narrow down your search,” advises Mark Dawes, director of Richardson & Wrench South Sydney. “It’s a trial and error process. If you find you can’t afford what you want, you either have to increase your budget or look in a different area.”
Draw up a list of the features you would like in your new home, and decide what you are willing to compromise on and what’s non-negotiable.
Research your loan options
There is a wide range of home loan options out there, with varying interest rates, fees, product features and restrictions, so it’s important to spend some time finding the one to suit your needs. Contacting lenders individually can be time-consuming and stressful, so use a comparison site such as RateCity, where you can search and compare more than 1000 home loans to find the right one for you.
Have pre-approved finance
Real estate agents will not take you seriously if you have not have a home loan approval from your lender and therefore a clear idea of how much you can spend. Particularly in a hot property market like Sydney, you may end up missing out on your dream home.
“First and foremost, you have to have your finance in order,” Dawes says. “We’ve seen people inspect a property they love and come Monday they make an offer but we can’t take them seriously.”
Pre-approval by your lender can take days and if another buyer with pre-approved finance makes an offer at the same time as you, the real estate agent will take their offer over yours. At auction, pre-approved finance is essential as you must hand over the deposit on the day.
Sign up to property alerts
Homes come onto the market constantly and keeping up with new stock requires a concerted effort. Dawes recommends signing up to receive email alerts from real estate agents in your search area as well as the big guns of property searches, realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.
“If you only sign up for one, you will miss out on properties listed on the rest,” Dawes says. “And it’s important to be diligent with checking them. We’ve had people call about a property three weeks in and by then it may be too late.”
Be prepared to move quickly
Having pre-approved finance helps with this, but you must also be decisive if you want to avoid the blow of missing out on a property you love. “If you see something you want on Saturday, make an offer on Monday – don’t take a week to think about it,” Dawes says. “Not every property sells that quickly, but 85 percent of our private treaty sales last year sold in week one.”