Owning your first home is a wonderful experience. But how do you stop yourself from making the biggest mistake of your life? As a First Home Buyer there are many pitfalls when buying your first home.
In this article, we share some real estate secrets with our first home buyers. Real estate agents have a trained eye and know what to look out for when they assess a property’s value. An inexperienced first home buyer can take these things for granted and therefore overlook their importance when deciding on a property or putting in an offer.
Luckily, the experts at Our Local Agent were happy to share these tips with us. Read below to find out the top 7 things every first home buyers must pay attention to when inspecting a property.
The Top 7 Things Every First Home Buyer Must Pay Attention to:
# 1 Easements and Boundaries
Understanding about easements and boundaries is a critical part of buying a property. In legal terms, an easement is ‘the right to cross or otherwise use a portion of someone else’s land’.
Easements cannot be blocked or built on. However, the owner of the property ‘is not’ responsible for maintaining it.
Types of easements
Right of carriageway – to allow neighbours road access to their properties. Can be a road or driveway.
Easement of services – to give other properties access to essential services like electricity, telephone and internet lines and water.
Easement of support – similar to an easement for services that allows excavation for installation of drainage, gas pipelines, power and NSB cables and so forth.
Easement of light and air – restricts construction of walls or buildings that can impact another party’s access to light and air (or views).
Rights of artificial waterways and sewerage – rights and restrictions for waterways, canal, and sewerage.
What is a boundary?
A property line or boundary marks the limits of the area. Most residential boundaries are defined by private properties on three sides and public property on the road frontage side. Houses are built with a pre-determined distance from a street, and the driveways cannot obstruct traffic.
Council regulations on boundaries are designed to make it fair for all parties to share public spaces. There are limits to what a property owner can do on or near their boundary.
For example, costs for maintaining or repairing a common boundary fence must be shared equally by both parties. Retaining walls cannot be built without mutual consent and certain structures must be built at a prescribed distance from the fence or boundary.
# 2 Building and pest condition
As advised by homely.com.au as part of your pre-purchase due diligence checklist they highly recommend including a building and pest condition. This clause allows you to obtain written reports from qualified building and pest inspectors. A carefully worded clause will also give you the right to withdraw your offer should a problem be identified in the inspectors’ reports.
Building and pest reports identify problems that you cannot visually see in an inspection. The problems identified in the report can be minor like a small leak to a major problem like structural damage or termite infestation.
# 3 Sloping block
A sloping block is a block of land with uneven elevation. If you are buying a house and land package, a sloping block can be more expensive to build. If you are buying an older home on a slope, renovating, repairing, and maintaining the property can become a costly affair.
If your budget is limited, consider buying your first home on a flat piece of land to minimise unnecessary expenditure.
# 4 Heating and cooling
Melbourne’s changeable weather means heating and cooling should be a key consideration for every first home buyer. An energy-efficient home can save you thousands of dollars a year in energy bills.
Here is a checklist on how to spot an energy-efficient property for your first home:
- Ceiling insulation
- Wall insulation
- Underfloor insulation
- Sealed cavities
- Draught sealing of windows and doors
- Double glazing
- Outdoor shading (for example, trees)
- Dense building materials like concrete floors or brick walls
- South-facing or north-facing windows
- Window eaves
- Ability to close off areas (for example doors)
- Split system, reverse air conditioning or heating systems that have energy-saving ratings
- Solar or heat pumps, hot water systems and efficiency rated gas hot water systems
# 5 Illegal extensions and renovations
When buying your first home be careful of illegal extensions and renovations. The previous owner(s) of the property may have undertaken wiring or plumbing without using a licensed professional, make additions or remove walls without Council’s approval.
Here are three things every first home buyer must know about illegal extensions and renovations:
- They are risky and illegal – Poor renovation can result in serious damage to the building that is expensive to fix and potentially harmful to you and your family
- You are accountable and responsible – The Council can issue you with a fine or insist you remove the structures
- They are usually not easy to fix – Illegal renovations are hard to fix. When damage occurred it usually involves structure, roofing, plumbing, or wiring.
# 6 Zoning
Most first home buyers are not aware that zoning is important in buying or selling a property. Zoning is a framework set out by the state or territory governments and applied by the local councils. The main zones are residential, commercial, agriculture and public.
House and land packages are usually zoned as residential, but it is important that first home buyers also research the surrounding areas. Victoria has a ‘mixed zone’ sub-category which usually applies to an area that is in transition.
Don’t just rely on marketing paraphernalia to guide your decision. Use the state websites to find out if a nearby land has been zoned for a particular use. The last thing you want is to have your dream home next to an abattoir or a high-density development.
# 7 Neighbours
When you are viewing a property, you seldom interact with the neighbours, but neighbours are an important consideration when buying a property. A bad neighbour can ruin your Australian Dream. Bad neighbours can also become a nightmare when you want to sell the house later.
To prevent being saddled with nosy or unpleasant neighbours, ask the listing agent directly about the people living next door. Real estate agents are obliged to disclose information that can influence buying decisions. You can also conduct some covert investigations by taking a drive to the area in the evening or on weekends.
The 7 things we have listed above are things that buyers tend to overlook. Even buyers with experience get caught out because they were not careful. First home buyers must also be aware of a range of other things like their finances, the expenses they will incur, government grants and others. Read the articles here.
Looking for your first home in the South-East suburbs? Keysborough is an up and coming suburb with a range of properties to suit every discerning first home buyer. Find out what properties are on sale in Keysborough at homely.com.au.