When you’re inspecting a house, don’t let the stylish interiors fool you. Just remember that there’s more to your new home than meets the eye. For peace of mind, here’s what you can do to make sure the property is in good health:
1. Check the ceilings
You don’t want your roof falling in on you. Make sure the level of the ceilings is even and consistent, and that there is no sagging – this can indicate past roof leaks. To check for any patch repairs or thin paint cover, the best thing to do is shine a torch from an angle at the ceiling surfaces.
2. Check for damp spots and mould
When it comes to damp spots, you’ll have to use your nose. This means opening up all the cabinets to detect any damp smells. While you can also smell mould, it helps to know what it looks like too. Keep an eye out for dirty clouds on the walls and ceilings – particularly if they’ve been recently cleaned. And before you move in, keep in mind that curing mould isn’t cheap, and has to be removed by professionals.
3. Check the walls
Properties with excessive cracking or cracks wider than 2.00mm are a problem – and need to be further inspected by a professional. Why are cracks bad? It usually points to a dodgy application of wall plastering. Once you spot cracks in one area, you’ll usually find them in other areas too. Cracking plaster becomes worse over time, especially when you install wall fixings to hang artworks.
4. Check the roof
When you’re outside the property, do a quick walk around the perimeter to look at the roof. You’ll need to check that the rooflines are straight, and the downpipes are discharging water into stormwater soakwells – not the ground. On an established property, these can be costly to install. Keep in mind that roof gutters can be deceiving – they may look fine from the ground, but if checked from the top, it’s possible they are corroded.
5. Make sure you’re in safe hands
It’s important the agent you’re working with is honest and experienced. To get the most out of the inspection, come prepared with questions to ask about the property. You should also find out about their work history and how many buyers they’re representing. Unless you’re completely confident, speak to a few agents before choosing one.
6. Check the Electricals
When walking through the house, check all the light switches work. Review that all of the lighting seems strong & is functional, especially down lighting as these can be quite expensive to replace. Look for exposed wall sockets or other wiring. Is the stove an electric stove? Make double check that it functions as replacing this can cost thousands on moving in. If you have the time and want to be extra sure in todays property market, you should look to hire a local residential electrician to inspect the house. While this may cost some up front it could save you thousands in the long run from any faulty wiring.
Making sure the property is in good shape is important. The same goes for your finances. When it comes to forking out for a home, here’s what you need to think about:
7. The art of negotiation
While your agent can do the negotiating for you, you can’t always be sure how far they’ll go to get you the best possible deal. Just remember that agents are expert salespeople – so they might push you to make an offer before someone else does. But you’re the buyer, which means you need to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.
8. It’s okay to back away
If you feel rushed, or it looks like a bad deal, there’s absolutely no harm in walking away (your wallet will thank you later). The truth is, there will be other properties – maybe even better ones. At the end of the day, it’s a big financial transaction, which means your terms need to be met.
9. Saving enough
Have I saved enough? It’s one of the biggest questions you’ll need to ask yourself. And it’s different for everyone. But what it really comes down to is what you can realistically afford. You might need to start with a smaller property, an older property, or one in a different area – just to get your foot in the market. If you’re unsure, it’s worth chatting to a financial advisor.
10. Making sure you’re ready
When you’re ready to buy a new house, it’s best to have a substantial deposit – 20% of the purchase price (plus enough to cover costs) is ideal. You’ll also need to think about how you’ll pay for legal costs and stamp duty. When it comes to home loans, having a history of regular savings in your bank account will help you get one – as well as a track record of regular employment. All expenses aside, you should have additional savings in case anything unexpected comes up.
11. Getting your life insurance sorted
Life insurance certainly isn’t a dinner party topic. However, you never know when tragedy will strike. The financial pressure of buying a new home is not something you want to gamble with. In fact of 43% surveyed Australians say they would feel the financial impact of the death of the primary breadwinner in 6 months or less.
That’s why it's important that you are covered in the event of a debilitating injury, sickness or death – to help with outstanding mortgages or household incomes. Before you buy life insurance, you’ll need to calculate how much you need and what you can afford.