BUYING TIPS + CHECKLIST

Some handy hints to help you when buying a home.

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Have your finances in order early

If you need finance to fund your purchase, meet with your chosen lender or mortgage broker early on in your search in order to get loan pre-approval (sometimes called approval in principle) and ascertain how much money you can borrow. This way you will be ready to act as soon as you see something you’re keen to buy, with your lender quickly able to give you final loan approval for your purchase if you meet all of the necessary criteria.

Note, never assume that because you have approval for a sum of money prior to finding your preferred property, that the lender will automatically  lend you that amount. You must have their support reconfirmed with specific regard to the chosen property and this would be dependent upon the usual checks, legal and physical.

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Engage a conveyancer or lawyer

To undertake the conveyancing work for your purchase, you will need to engage a solicitor or a registered conveyancer. Solicitors are often recommended when contracts are not straightforward and are likely to require complicated legal work. However, as experienced conveyancers specialise in conveyancing work they are ideal in most circumstances. In fact, many law firms employ registered conveyancers to undertake their conveyancing work.

Again, confirm who will be your solicitor or conveyancer well prior to finding your preferred property so the considerable preparatory work can be commenced.

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Check the title of your chosen property

Freestanding houses generally have a freehold title, however other titles exist for different property types and come with their own legalities. Many apartments and townhouses are Strata Titled, which is a system for handling the legal ownership of a portion of a building and will incur quarterly strata fees.

Less frequently you will come across a Company Titled apartment, a system which effectively means you purchase shares in a building rather than a designated space. Restricted Company Title means that you may not be able to lease out the property.

Another form of title is the Cross Lease, where a larger section has been divided, two [seldom more than this] homes erected and it all remains under one title. Each of the house owners grants the other a right to lease their part of the property for a negligible sum and agree as to which parts of the overall property ‘belongs’ to the other.  This form of title isn’t often used now, but remains a significant of overall housing stocks.

Lease-hold properties, often large areas of a suburb or town, are found in many towns and cities across the country. Often owned by churches, beneficial trusts and local authorities, these properties sell for discounted values compared with freehold properties, and the owner pays an agree and sometimes substantial annual lease figure. Be aware lenders can shy away from such properties, so check early.

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Carry out the necessary inspections.

The building inspection is an important part of the legal checklist for buying property. This inspection involves ensuring the electrics and plumbing have been installed to meet requirements, that any renovations have been approved by council, the structure is sound, that the boundaries are in the correct position and that any pest issues are identified.

There are many companies specialising in this work and who are recognised by legal advisors, lenders, local authorities and insurers. Check for reputable local operators.

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Have your deposit ready.

When buying at auction you will need to pay a 10% deposit on the day to secure your purchase. This can be done in the form of a personal or bank cheque or a deposit bond, which is effectively a guarantee for the bond which your lender may be able to arrange for you.

If you are buying a property via private treaty/negotiated sale, you will usually need to pay the deposit upon the contract becoming ‘unconditional’.  Make sure you have the deposit organised well in advance if possible to avoid any complications. Your lawyer or conveyancer will have discussed this with you well prior.