House hunting can be emotionally and physically draining. So what’s the secret to keeping your cool and coming out on top?
The personal journey to buying a home can be highly emotional. We can fall in love with homes in a way we don’t with any other possession because a home is a sanctuary from the world, a place for families to grow and friends to come together and where memories are made. We can also take pride in ‘feathering our nests’.
But sometimes the emotion can blind us to many of the important, practical decisions we need to consider along the way, exposing us to the risk of making unwise financial decisions. So how can we keep our emotions in check when house hunting?
Avoid the pitfalls
“People get very overwhelmed with the process of buying a home. It’s very time consuming and exhausting,” says Rich Harvey, Buyers Agent and CEO of propertybuyer.com.au.
“There are a lot of emotions involved, including fear of missing out. Or you might see an aspect of a home you love, such as a cubby house that would be perfect for the kids, but the rest of the house doesn’t work for your needs.”
Letting your heart rule without any input from your practical side has the potential to land you in financial strife. “You can end up buying a property that is beyond your means,” Harvey adds. “When you buy a $2 million property, you’re paying $90,000 in stamp duty – so it can be very costly to re-enter the market.”
A common emotional mistake is the “frustrated purchase”, according to Harvey. That’s when home buyers succumb to frustration after many months of unsuccessful house hunting and end up settling for ‘good enough’ which could mean buying the wrong home.
Create your own home-buying brief
Harvey helps his clients remove the emotion from house hunting by creating a checklist of the key features they need in a home. “Work out a brief of what you’re looking for in a home,” he says. Top of the list is where you actually want to live or are prepared to live. “Look at things like your journey to work, where your friends are and where your key social activities are.”
Your ‘must haves’ should also include things you’re not prepared to compromise on like the number of bedrooms, a sunny aspect or a garden for your children and pets, as well as things like proximity to transport, schools and other amenities.
With your ‘not negotiables’ sorted, your checklist can also include your ‘desirables’ – features that would be nice to have, but are not deal breakers. These could include things like having an extra toilet in the house, a study or a swimming pool.
Writing your own brief or property checklist is a great place to start, Harvey says. “Then you can look at what you have to pay to achieve that and calculate your budget.”
Keep the big picture in mind
When you spend every weekend traipsing through several properties and missing out at auctions, it can be easy to get distracted by the details and lose focus on the bigger picture. A window seat may be lovely but how much time will you spend in it if your journey to work is doubled?
“The most important thing is to look beyond the cosmetic,” Harvey advises. “Buy for location, buy for lifestyle and upgrade for improvement.”
“You can always replace the grimy tiles in the bathroom or install new flooring. But you can’t move the house if it’s in the wrong area.”
Carry a checklist
Putting your needs, must-haves and nice-to-haves on paper and carrying a checklist with you to house inspections is a good way to keep your heart in check on the house-hunting trail.
You might want to consider some of the following things:
* Is the house within your budget?
* Is it close to important amenities?
* Is reliable public transport available?
* Is the property in the ‘right’ school catchment area?
* Are friends and family close by?
* What will your commute to work be like?
* Is the building structurally sound?
* Does the house have the right amount of rooms and space to suit your needs?
* Does the house have good natural light?
* Are you prepared to renovate? And can you afford to do so?
* Is off-street parking available?
* If you’re buying an apartment, can your budget cover the ongoing strata fees?
One day it will all come together
With the discipline of your home buying checklist, keeping your heart and your head on the same page should be easier and help you avoid the mistake of settling for something that’s not quite right. While you’ll still need to put in the effort, the day should come when you find the property that ticks off all the ‘must haves’ on your home buying checklist. And hopefully one or two of the ‘nice to haves’. With a helping hand from your local Aussie broker, you’ll be home before you know it.
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