When you were younger and you imagined buying your own house, did your visions involve trudging around a myriad of open houses, enduring constant disappointment? Did you see yourself poring over real estate advice columns losing your grip on reality due to tidal waves of misinformation and contradiction?
My bet is you only imagined the good stuff. Finding the perfect house, moving your stuff in and having it look great, and living happily ever after, right?
Might sound fanciful, but it really isn’t. To be fair, once you’ve answered these four key questions, the search for your next place should be a lot simpler and more localised.
How much space do you need?
Easy one to start off with. It might be just you, or you and your partner, or maybe you’ve got a young family. Often the need for more space is a trigger for starting a property search in the first place, so simply consider what the minimum size for your new place should be.
You don’t have to have it down to the square foot – if you’re in a 2-bedder and you want an extra room, that’s good enough. If you’re in a cramped unit and you want more breathing room, look for places with more space, windows and maybe a balcony or patio.
If you can afford it, opting for that extra bit of space never hurts. Having an extra room and bathroom not only helps with future-proofing your place, it will be more desirable for re-sale.
How much are you willing to pay?
Once you know how much space you need, price should be your next consideration. You may have a ball-park figure in mind, but here’s what to do before you visit any open houses.
- Borrowing Power: Know how much you can get your hands on. Speak to your bank or take advantage of handy free online calculators. Punch in a few basic details and get your baseline figure.
- Current market: consider the state of play in the market right now. Are you likely to get whet you’re after at a reasonable price, or are conditions right for sellers? Depending on the real estate cycle we’re in, it may be worth your while financially to hold off.
- Buying condition: Are you prepared to renovate, and to what extent? If you’re a DIY whiz-kid, picking up a bare-bones bargain might be the ticket, but if you’re after more of a finished article, be reasonable in your expectations of price.
Potential for re-sale
When searching for your next place, it can be difficult to see far past the immediate future, which involves you moving in and loving your new place.
If you can though, try to look at any potential properties with an investor’s eye. If or when the day comes for you to move on from your next place, how will you be placed to meet the market?
Looking for properties in areas of long-term consistent growth, with great curb appeal, solid foundation/features, a surrounding community of good standing and close proximity to local amenities and civil development will go a long way to ensure a positive future re-sale value.
Looking to the future
Again, thinking beyond the now can be tough, but who knows what life will spring on you in 1-5 years’ time?
You may be living the single life now, but should you be considering a place with an extra bedroom and bathroom just in case you decide to start a family?
And vice-versa, if you’re a family with uni-students at home, is it worthwhile looking at a smaller, newer, less expensive place which will require less maintenance once the kids fly the coup?