Thinking you’re buying a new house when you’re actually buying a used house. The Sellers owe you the home in the same condition it was in when you bought it – they don’t owe you a perfect home with no issues. Trust us…every home will have problems you weren’t expecting when you move in.
Not looking under the hood. While a scratched floor probably won’t change your decision to buy a home, it’s nice to know before you move in. Don’t spend more time shopping for a new pair of shoes than exploring your new potential home.
Not being ready to jump on the right house. In Brisbane, the market moves fast, and homes sometimes get multiple offers in mere hours. Make sure to have your financial ducks in a row and be ready to make a quick decision when you find the right home.
Not being fully approved for a mortgage before you start the search. Forget about online mortgage tools and bank pre-approvals – you need a full commitment from a lender to ensure your financing doesn’t fall through. They’ll want to check your credit, verify your employment and your downpayment – so be ready. If you don’t know a good mortgage lender, we’d be happy to put you in touch with the people we trust.
Trolling homes you can’t afford. This is a recipe for heartbreak, and it doesn’t help that many apartments and houses in Brisbane are no being auctioned to drive the selling price up with multiple bids. Pro tip: don’t choose a $1 million house as your ‘ideal’ home that you will judge all others against when you have a budget of $700,000.
Not being flexible in your choice of neighbourhood. There are tons of great neighbourhoods in Brisbane and being flexible about where you live will help you land the home of your dreams within your budget. You can check out our neighbourhood guides here
Not getting a home inspection or not reading the one you got. A home inspection is like a physical for your house, and a DNA test rolled into one – it diagnoses current issues and acts as an early-detection system for what might go wrong in the future. So don’t skip over this important step and make sure to READ IT ALL. Ask questions when you don’t understand something.
Expecting the Seller to pay for things uncovered in a home inspection. This doesn’t always happen in Brisbane. Make sure you sign a contract subject to a Building and Pest inspection, to get informed and help you decide if you want to buy the house – If negative things are found you can walk away from the property or ask for a price reduction, but don’t expect that the buyer will agree.
Low-balling in a hot market. Putting in an offer that’s below market value (which may or may not be different than the asking price) is a recipe for a disaster on a newly listed home. All it will do is encourage the Sellers to go hunting for an offer to compete with you, and you’ll probably lose the home. Know the market you’re in and offer accordingly – your Real Estate Agent can help.
Not anticipating the additional costs. You’ll need to pay your lawyer fees, insurance and Stamp Duty as well as fees for your loan but there may also be other costs.
Not understanding the taxes you’ll need to pay. The big additional cost will be Transfer Duty. This is calculated based on whether the property is a principal place of residence and the total purchase price. Here is a link to the State Government Transfer Duty Calculator.
Falling in love with the staging and not the home. It’s easy to get sidelined into looking at the pretty furniture and pillows. Staging exists for that very purpose – to make you fall in love. But make sure to imagine YOUR furniture and look past the staging.
Getting too excited and losing sight of what you wanted/needed. If a gorgeous yard wasn’t on your initial must-have list, don’t fall for the flowers and forget that what you really needed was an office space. It’s normal for some of your wants and needs to change throughout the house hunting process, but don’t lose sight of your original goals.
Not researching your school district before buying. You can research and find your school zones here. This is very important if you are expecting to get into the McDowall State School as it has very tough rules.
Buying your first home first, when it might be a better ideal to buy your second home first. Buying and selling real estate is expensive, so make sure you buy as much home as you’re comfortable with in the beginning, so you won’t have to move in a few years.
Being short-sighted in a hot market. If you’re buying at a time when prices are increasing, recognize that you’ll likely need to pay MORE than the last comparable price…and the extra $1,000 you aren’t willing to pay tonight will become the starting price for the next comparable property. Think of an increasing market like a set of stairs, with each new sale moving everybody up a step.
Expecting to see a home with super short notice. Most property inspections are scheduled with a day or two notice, and Sellers aren’t usually receptive to only having one hour to prep their home. In a hot market, you can probably get in to see a home quickly (and that might be a big strategic advantage). If the home you want to see is currently tenanted, the owner is legally obligated to give the Tenant 24 hours notice of any property inspection.
Not being respectful of the Sellers and their home. It’s not cool to go into a home and make fun of the decor or how the Sellers live. It’s not OK to take photos of the bear on their bed and mock them on social media. It’s not OK to keep your muddy shoes on and traipse through their home. It’s not ok to be late for a showing or just not show up.
Not being ready to compromise. Almost nobody gets everything they want in a house. You’ll likely need to compromise on at least one of these three things: location, size or condition.
Failing to understand what the bank appraisal is and how it might affect you. Almost every home that will need a mortgage will be appraised by the lender…so make sure you understand what happens if the bank appraises your home for less than you agreed to pay for it.
Not filing your income taxes. Banks will require your income taxes to be filed and up to date before they’ll advance you a mortgage, so if you’ve been avoiding filing, get on it right now.
For apartment buyers: not reading the disclosure statement and body corporate information certificate and having it reviewed. The disclosure statement and body corporate information certificate are crucial document that needs to be reviewed by your lawyer. It contains the financial and legal health of your body corporate as well as other information about planned expenditures.
Scheduling too many inspections in one day. Looking at homes is fun – but if you see more than 6-8 in a day, you’ll be exhausted and probably forget what you saw.
Buying the most expensive home on the street and not understanding the ramifications of that. The cheapest home on the street is more valuable because of its neighbours, and unfortunately, the most expensive home’s value is brought down by its neighbours too.
For apartment Buyers: not understanding the rules. Just because you own it, doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. Your Body Corporate will have rules that you will have to abide by as well.
Not reading what you’re signing and understanding the legal paperwork. Simply you should seek legal assistance with this stuff.
Not exploring the scary sub structure of the house. It’s important that you explore the whole house, not just the sexy kitchen. Look for evidence of pests, water problems and take a peek at the electrical panel.
Not asking about the neighbours. Always ask about the neighbours.
Not budgeting for all the repairs you’ll inevitably have to make as a homeowner. You’ll be surprised by all the little and big stuff that you’ll be responsible for as a Buyer. Budget, budget and then budget some more.
Not informing yourself about the unsexy stuff: the age of the roof, the kind of electrical wiring, how old the drains are, etc.
Not talking to a home insurance person in advance of buying. Your mortgage will be conditional on getting home insurance, so make sure there aren’t any issues with the home (or with your insurance history) that it make it uninsurable.
Not having serious conversations with your spouse before embarking on the house hunting adventure. Does either of you have a dark secret in your credit history? Are you planning on having kids? How far are you comfortable commuting to work?
Expecting property inspections to be scheduled in the early morning or late at night. For starters, Sellers aren’t likely to let you in at off-hours, and if they do, they’ll probably only let you in for 15 minutes…not nearly enough to explore what could be your next home.
Not exploring the neighbourhood during the day AND at night. It’s important to get a sense of your new ‘hood at all times of day…not just when the sun is shining, and the kids are playing outside.
Not recognizing the limitations of buying a tenanted property. If you’re buying a property that has tenants, make sure the tenants are not in a lease. Landlords can’t evict their tenants during a lease, and if they are ‘month-to-month’ tenants, the Landlord must give notice – so plan your settlement date accordingly. Talk with your Madeleine Hicks real estate agent about how to handle this situation.
Believing the asking price is the real price. Depending on what’s happening in the market when you buy, the asking price might have been set arbitrarily low to generate a bidding war, or it might be high with an intention to negotiate. Either way, your real estate agent can help you understand the real value of the home.
Not walking around the outside of the house. Look for cracks in the bricks and evidence of water penetration. Go into the garage. Check out the fence. Take the time to walk through the whole yard; don’t just peek out from the window.
Buying a home during the first three months of a new job. Banks hate probationary periods, and most won’t give a mortgage to someone who has just started a new job (and they get even pickier if you’ve just made a change of career). Your lender wants to know you’ll be able to pay that $600,000 mortgage and having a stable work history will be important to them.
Not getting a termite inspection if you’re buying in a termite-ridden area. Don’t want to get a termite inspection? Then be prepared to pay for treatment and termite insurance.
Getting emotional and trying to win a bidding war at all costs. Sure, bidding wars are competitive, and you need to be in it to win it, but make sure you have a good sense of the real value of the home and your ability to pay for it.
Not going in with your strongest offer in a competitive market. When you’re in a competitive market, you don’t always get a chance to improve your offer, so if you’re prepared to pay $710,000 for that house, bid $710,000. A $700,000 first offer might mean you lose the house.
Amortizing your mortgage over too long a period. Sure, that’ll help with monthly affordability, but you may be paying tens of thousands more in interest cost than you need to. Talk to your lender and make a plan to pay off your mortgage as fast as you can.
Not comparing mortgage interest rates and terms. Sure, you love your bank…but you might save thousands of dollars a year by getting a mortgage at a competing bank. Do your homework, and remember that interest rate isn’t the only important thing…the terms and conditions are important too. Can you port your mortgage if you sell and buy something else? What kind of pre-payment options and penalties come with that mortgage?
Trying to time the market. Decide to buy when the timing is right for you. Nobody really knows what the real estate market will do (though obviously, it’s a good idea to watch for trends and signs).
Not properly budgeting moving costs. Boxes, moving supplies, renting a moving truck (or movers), paying for the setup of utilities – they all add up.
Forgetting to involve ALL the stakeholders in the house hunting process. If Mum & Dad are lending you the downpayment and want to see your dream home before you buy it, make sure to have open and honest conversations about what you want to buy before you find it. It’s never fun to be in love and have Mum & Dad kill your dream because they don’t want you in a particular neighbourhood or style of home.
Talking too much at an open house. Remember: the agent at the open house represents the Seller, so anything you say to them will be reported back to the Seller. Don’t talk about how much you love the house, why you’re moving or how much you’d be willing to pay.
Refusing to pay the asking price, on principle. Sure, it’s fun to negotiate – but the house might be accurately priced. Don’t base your offer strategy on principle, base it on fact.
Buying a new car or getting a new credit card right before settlement. Remember: your bank agreed to lend you money on the circumstances that were true when they approved you. Taking on new debt or otherwise changing your financial situation will change how much they will lend you and may put your settlement in jeopardy.
Following the crowd. Buyers all seem to search for houses at the same time of the year, which means it can get really competitive…and then Buyers all seem to ‘take a break’ at the same time. That’s when you want to go hard and fast with your search, during those weeks and months when your competitors are taking a break. A good agent can help you identify the times of opportunity.
Overlooking the ugly house. Sometimes, ugly houses get overlooked, and they might be a prime opportunity for you to get into a neighbourhood you otherwise might not afford.
Trying to save money by hiring a cheap real estate lawyer. Think of your lawyer as insurance – if things go sideways, you’ll want the best representing you. Saving $300 and having mediocre representation on the biggest financial transaction of your life is a risky gamble.
Buying a house when you should really buy a apartment or townhouse. Sure, the temptation of having your very own garden and hosting backyard parties is high, but not everyone should own a house. If you aren’t excited about the idea of maintaining an older home with all its quirks, and you don’t have the financial flexibility to deal with surprise flooded laundrys and busted drains, consider a apartment or townhouse. The lifestyle and financial trade-offs might be worth it.
Be honest: do you really have what it takes to renovate? Renovations take time, patience and a flexible budget. I know I’d love to be a renovator…but I don’t handle missed deadlines and endless people in my house well. Talk to your agent and friends who’ve renovated to understand what it’s involved, before you buy a renovator special.
Deciding to move to the suburbs without taking everything into account. Consider commuting time and expenses, affordability and lifestyle.
Not taking notes while you’re house hunting. Trust me: you’ll forget a lot of details by the end of a day of inspections. Take notes on your phone about anything that’s important to you.
Not taking advantage of government programs for first-time Buyers. The State government and presently the Federal government are offering incentives for first home owners. Ask the questions and see if you qualify.
Not using all your senses when house hunting. Don’t just use your eyes – use your nose, your ears and your sense of touch too. Do you smell a musty bathroom? Hear the trains? Feel dampness on the laundry walls? Pro tip: don’t use your sense of taste on a showing.
Underestimating the cost of renovations. If you’re buying a home that needs some love, be VERY generous with your budgets. Renovations often cost twice as much and take three times as long as planned.
Expecting the Seller to make all the disclosures they need to make. Yes, they are legally required to disclose certain things, but always do your own due diligence, with the help of your agent and a home inspector. Does the house have up to date electrical wiring? Were renovations done with permits?
Not realizing you need to provide your downpayment to your lawyer a few days before closing. You’ll need to meet with your lawyer before settlement day to sign all the final paperwork. You’ll also need to provide them with a big fat cheque to pay for your new home. That cheque will equal the purchase price, less your deposit, less the amount of your mortgage.
Thinking your deposit and downpayment are the same thing. The deposit is paid within 24 hours of your offer being accepted. Your downpayment is the total amount of cash you are putting into the home (purchase price less mortgage).
Not being ready for second-guessing and buyer’s remorse. Buying a home is a huge decision so expect it to be emotional. It won’t feel the same when the staging is gone and it’ll feel smaller when you get possession, and it’s empty.
Not checking for liveability. Check the height of the ceilings in the downstair areas and the overhead space on the stairs. Check the size of the tub and shower and if your beds will fit into the bedrooms. Take your eyes off those gorgeous granite cupboards and check how much storage there really is.
Not upgrading enough during a move-up. If you currently own your home and are looking to make a move up, make sure you make a big enough move up, so you don’t find yourself in this same situation in 2 years. If you’re looking for more space, aim for more than you think you need right now. Lateral moves are expensive.
Borrowing all the money the bank is willing to give you. While your lender uses standard qualifying ratios to determine how much mortgage you can afford, they aren’t taking into account the rest of your life. Do you love to travel? Have an expensive hobby? Make a personal budget at the same time as a house budget. Nobody wants to work just to pay the mortgage.
Be brutally honest with yourself about how you live. It’s easy to fantasize about living a whole new way in your new home, but people are people, and we rarely change. If you live a cluttered, messy life – don’t buy an open concept home. If your family currently hangs out in the kitchen most of the time, make sure your new kitchen allows for that. If you don’t go to the gym, don’t pay extra for an apartment with a huge gym that you’ll really never use.
If you’re downsizing, pay close attention to the stairs. If you’re looking to downsize and make a long-term move, consider the stairs. Nobody’s knees and hips improve with age, and your new smaller home might not work for you down in 5 years if the only bathroom is up a set of stairs.
Not anticipating how your life might change. Give some serious thought to how your lifestyle might change before you sign on the dotted line. Looking to start a family and twins run in your family? Aim for a four-bedroom instead of a three-bedroom home. Are things getting serious with your girlfriend? Involve her in the house hunting if you think you might move into together. Are the kids in high school? Get a separate living area so they’ve got somewhere to hang with their friends through the teen years.
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