Andrea Tucker - Director MortgageMe

If you’re just starting your journey to homeownership, excitement, and eagerness to possess your very own piece of land for the first time may cloud your judgement and cause you to make some rookie mistakes.

MortgageMe crowdsourced some tips from current homeowners so that potential buyers out there can learn from their mistakes when buying their first property. This is what they said:

  1. A good deal trumps bad décor. Just because the house isn’t to ‘your taste’ doesn’t mean it is not an option for you to buy, especially if you can get a good deal. If you have a great bargain in your reach, you might have leftover funds available to put your spin on the décor cost-effectively.
  2. Consider renovation costs. On the flip side, it is easy to underestimate the cost of a renovation as well as the time it takes. If major renovations are needed, factor in the requirement of more money and a longer time frame than you initially think. Even then, you might still run over one or both of these.
  3. Temporary escape. If you have an option of moving elsewhere temporarily when you renovate – DO IT. If you’re bashing down walls or making changes that impact plumbing, you’ll thank yourself daily for making this decision.
  4. Stay in your price range. It’s difficult but resist the urge to buy that property that is just a little more than you think you can afford. You can never really anticipate every cost that will be incurred in the first one to two years of owning a property, and financial stress is something you’ll be pleased you avoided later down the line.
  5. Get an electrical compliance certificate. If you’re an electrician yourself, you can ignore this piece of advice, but for everyone else, make sure you have received a legitimate electrical compliance certificate. And, if necessary, pay extra to get your own. This is one aspect of homebuying you should not scrimp on. Second opinions are invaluable here and can save you money and bigger hassles in the future. This is of critical importance if you’re buying an older property.
  6. Haggle. Most things in life are negotiable, including the interest rate offered by your bank and many of the fees charged by bond attorneys, such as registration and transfer fees. If you don’t ask, you won’t get!
  7. Wait before you renovate. Not all renovations add immediate value to a property so don’t automatically assume that by doing costly renovations you will increase the value of your property for resale. Live in the house before making any changes. If you have definite plans to renovate, track down your house plans sooner rather than later as this may take time and be an administrative nightmare. It is also worth checking that the house matches the current plans.
  8. Consider the location. Buy the cheapest house in the most expensive suburb you can afford. By doing this, you’re limiting the possibility of over-capitalising on the value of your property when it comes to resale.
  9. Get an access bond. Make sure you sign up for this in your contract agreement with your chosen bank. Having this safety net available for emergencies or renovations is a comfort when the last thing you need to worry about is money.
  10. Scrutinise the property. Be extra observant when viewing a house. Look up! The roof plays a pretty big role in a home by keeping us safe and dry, so you need to make sure there are no leaks or structural issues. Inspect the walls. If you see any fresh paint work be sure to question if it’s a fresh coat of paint or covering up a hack job to fix damp or hide water leaks. Also, be aware of the relatively new Property Practitioners Act, which makes it law for the seller to disclose defects in both home sales and rentals.

They made the mistakes, so you don’t have to. The next time you go house-hunting, keep these homebuyers’ nuggets of advice in mind.

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