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Essential Guide to House Hunting
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House hunting can be a complicated process, especially if you do not know where to start and what to look for. However, if you structure the whole process properly, you will not only get the house of your dreams, but value for money as well.

If you are in the market for a new house, there are three main steps to follow. This is illustrated below:

- Shortlisting properties
- Inspecting properties
- Making Offers

1. Shortlisting properties

Create a shortlist based on your key priorities and then make appointments to view the selected properties. When short listing the properties, there are two key factors to consider: the condition of the house and its location. Firstly, the house itself has to be in satisfactory condition, and well maintained. Secondly, the house has to be situated in a convenient location. The ideal location will be determined by the following:

- Is the location close enough to your place of work?
- Are there any shopping centers and essential services in the locality?
- Are the local schools good enough for your children?
- Will you get sufficient parking space?

2. Viewing properties

After you have shortlisted your favorite houses, set some time aside for viewing each house. As you inspect each home, ensure that you take note of all the details, both the good and bad. Listed below are the fundamental details to look for and some questions to ask yourself when house hunting:

The Interior of the House:

Assess the age and condition of the ceiling, flooring, stairs, basement and windows. This will help you plan for any updates or plans that the house may need.

Check to see if the faucets on the kitchens and bathrooms are leak-free, stain free and mold/mildew free. The kitchen ought to have plenty of cabinet and storage space. Ensure that the bathroom has working fans and flush the toilet to confirm if it is working properly.

How does the furniture look like? Do you want replica furniture? Will the cabinets, drawers, armoires, chest need renovations?

All rooms must have ample lighting. There should also be enough natural lighting. How energy-efficient will your new home be? Try estimating the monthly bills for light and heat.

Doors and Walls: Check the doors and locks to ensure that they open and close properly, are secure and in good condition. Do the walls have any stains on them? If so, you will need to repaint them.

Check all the essential systems, including the air conditioning, alarm, insulation, plumbing, sewer, water, heating and electricity. Are they all up to date? Get a home inspector to help you verify everything before buying.

The Exterior of the House:

The exterior of the home is equally important. Ensure that there is no sagging roofline, dents or holes on the roofs that may cause leakages. The foundation, pool and driveway should also be in perfect state; they should not be damaged or have any visible cracks. If the home has a garage, find out whether it is remote or manual controlled and ensure that all its features are working efficiently. Additionally, check for any signs of infestations of pests and rodents such as ants, cockroaches, mosquitoes, termites and mice. Overall, the house should have an attractive landscape and curb appeal.

Additional Viewing Tips

View the houses during the day, but also visit the area at night – it is advisable to walk through the streets on different days and at different times. Study the behavior of your neighbors and other people who live in the vicinity.

When viewing the house, write down all as much information as possible, because you may forget it or get confused, particularly if you are viewing several homes. Also, find out if other buyers have made offers on the house.

3. Price Negotiations and making an offer

Once you have identified the property you would like to purchase, you can start negotiating the price with the seller. Most homeowners do not expect you to meet their selling price straight away. When negotiating, do not get carried away by how much you like the house, and strictly adhere to your budgeting. Set yourself a maximum price that you are willing to pay for a particular property, based on your needs and what you can afford. Remember to include stamp duty and your moving costs.

Before placing an offer for the house, calculate how much you think it is worth – conducting some research into the prices of similar properties can give you a good approximation. The best thing to do is getting an independent valuation of the property from a surveyor, and you can use the findings as a negotiation tool.

As soon as you place your first offer, the real estate agent will get in touch with the seller, and decide whether the amount is enough. If they are not happy, they may get back to you with a counter offer and perhaps give you a hint of their expectations. And since the role of the real estate agent is to get the highest possible price for the seller, they might be unwilling to go below their asking price.

Once a seller accepts your offer, you will need to put it into writing. Ensure that you mark it as “Subject to Contract”, or else you may not be allowed to back out from the deal, even if you do not have enough money.

A good way of reducing the total cost is separating the amount you are paying for the fittings and fixtures and the amount for the property. This way, only the property will be liable for stamp duty, while the rest will be not. To encourage the seller to accept a lower price, use non-price factors such as mortgages and date of completion of the project. But note that the property market is a very dynamic environment. The prices may increase rapidly, especially if the demand goes high and the seller receives many different offers for the house. You can compare different home loan options at http://www.comparehomeloans.com.au/

Final Word

Create a list of your wants, needs and expectations and share it with your real estate agent. This list will remind you of your priorities throughout the house hunting process. Use this list as a guide to help you get the right home.


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