5 tips you need to know before buying a home


With the official cash rate at an all-time low, it is an incredible time to be in the market to purchase a home, or investment property. With Victoria’s lockdown restrictions easing and additional supply coming onto the market, buying conditions for first home buyers and upgraders continue to improve.  

However, buying and settling on a property is a complex and timely process – and it’s not as simple as winning at an auction or signing a sales contract.  

For many of us, purchasing a home will be our largest financial commitment we undertake in our lives. We’ve put together a list of the top 5 tips to help you buy a home – to ensure your buying journey is enjoyable and smooth, and you maximise your investment.

  1. Always be realistic with what you can afford. 

Being realistic with what you can comfortably afford is the most important step in the buying journey. You do not want to overstretch your situation, so speak with a trusted Mortgage Broker or lender who can assist with assessing your borrowing power. It’s important to do this before you start looking for a home. 

Regardless of how much you can borrow, you’ll still need to have at least 10% of the value of the property – most likely in cash savings. Remember to factor in the additional costs too, such as stamp duty, building and pest inspections, pro-rated council rates, and potentially Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI).

  1. Research, research, research.

Begin your research by narrowing down what suburbs you’d like to live in. Review www.realestate.com.au and www.domain.com.au for recent and comparable sales prices history and the associated suburb profiles. 

Try to understand the key metrics in these areas, including median sales prices, rental yields, auction clearance rates, days on market and vacancy rates. Then, speak with local real estate agents in those suburbs to get an understanding of what the market is doing in the suburb, and surrounding suburbs. 

Remember to look for things such as:

  • Local primary and secondary schools, and specifically where the school zones are.
  • Transport options and freeway access.
  • Access to local amenities such as cafes, shops and parks.

Try visit the neighbourhood at different times of the week, to get a good sense of how quiet or lively it is. By taking your time and doing the necessary groundwork and research, you’ll be less likely to overpay for a property.

When you’ve found a house (or houses), you’re genuinely interested in, it’s time to attend some open home inspections. 

  1. What to look for during a home inspection

Once you find the right home, it is time to thoroughly inspect it – both inside and out. When inside the property, check the condition of the interior and exterior. Has the property been maintained by the current owner, or tenants? Are there any visible cracks inside – on the ceilings or walls? Or even any cracks on the external brickwork?  As you walk through the home, does the floor feel even underfoot? Are external gutters intact? Can you see any water damage? 

Ask the agent for permission, but also take photos or short videos so you can review in detail later.

If the property requires any work prior to moving in, make sure you factor these costs into your overall budget.  If you are serious about the property, it’s recommended you conduct a professional property inspection. This way, you can be sure a professional has checked for major issues, such as plumbing and structural problems.

It is important to consider obtaining a professional building and pest inspection. While this will add to your costs, it is vital that you find out about any hidden surprises like damp, termites, shifting foundations, or faulty wiring and plumbing.

  1. Take your time and negotiate.

Buying a home is likely the biggest financial decision of your life. The last thing you want is to make an impulse-based decision, because you feel pressured from an agent. Remember, you can always walk away if the deal doesn’t feel right – there will always be another property.  The worst thing you can do is rush your decision-making process. 

Real estate agents will always have their seller’s best interests at heart. But keep the following in mind, when it’s time to negotiate. 

  1. Attend open houses and if you notice there is little interest in the property, you could be in a position of power. You could be one of a few, or the only, interested party. Then try to offer below the asking price. 
  2. Find out the vendor’s reason for sale, and present settlement terms to help meet their needs. For example, they may be going through a messy separation, and looking for a quick settlement.  Alternatively, if the vendor isn’t ready to leave the house due to waiting on the purchase of their next home, you could offer a leaseback arrangement. 

Keep in mind, that while the real estate agent is working for the vendor – trying to get the best possible price – they also need to make a sale, in order to get paid themselves. If the agent feels you, as the purchaser, has no more room to increase your offer, they will recommend the vendor to sell.

  1. Protecting your most valuable asset

Congratulations! Once you’ve secured your dream property, it’s time to protect it. For every new home buyer, home and contents insurance is a must. After going through all the effort and expense of acquiring your new home, you’ll want to make sure you’re adequately covered. Remember, being under-insured can come back to bite you, if your home is affected by a storm, vandalism or bushfire. 

To learn more about Home and Contents insurance, see Mark Thornton’s article HERE.

Always seek advice from a trusted professional.

Purchasing and investing in real estate is exciting and when done well, can significantly transform your life.  Your local One Agency specialist, lives and breathes real estate in your area and has insights into exactly what is happening in your community.  

Now is a great time to get started on your property journey, or continue climbing the property ladder, as interest rates are at an all-time low. Our agency is also seeing high-quality family-oriented supply begin to come onto the market, and this is set to continue as we progress through Spring and approach Summer.

To learn more about the benefits of real estate investing and what prices may do long-term, please contact us at One Agency.  With One Agency being one of Mildura’s most trusted real estate agencies, we are well placed to provide you with our view of the current market based on our local experience. We’ll thoroughly guide you through the process and help you take advantage of this opportune time in the property market.