Before signing the paperwork and moving into your dream home, there might come a period of search and seek where looking for the home that is just right for you and your family can seem tedious and drawn out.
There are so many questions to ask yourself during this process, and finding the home that is right for you can take months upon months and an army of ‘not quite right’ properties.
What features of your home are a must-have?
Are you willing to renovate, and if so, what is the extent of renovations you are willing to do?
What suburbs are going to be best for you and your family?
There’s also an endless list of other questions around financing, bedroom counts, and sizes.
The thing is, regardless of whether this is your first, second, or tenth home purchase when looking for a house to move into with your family, there are just so many things you need to consider. And because of this, it can be easy to forget them all.
The process of buying your home can be overwhelming. It can be stressful and long, and exhausting. But it doesn’t have to be. We have broken down the not so common things you might want to look at on inspection day before signing on the dotted line.
These are the 8 things to look for before buying your home… and we think the list might surprise you.
1. How far is the property from shops, cafes, and restaurants?
While regularly dining out or your must-have cup of Joe’s coffee in the morning might seem like a trivial thing when purchasing your home, having shops, cafes, and restaurants nearby are extremely important to consider when on the real estate hunt.
When looking at specific suburbs or homes, consider the distance to your local shopping centre or grocery market, your nearest coffee shop, and your favourite takeout.
Ask yourself, are you willing to drive this distance regularly?
The same goes for your gym. Your local swimming pool. Your regular nail salon. If the locations you regularly visit aren’t nearby, you can guarantee that the transit will become more and more frustrating over time.
We recommend checking out what is nearby when you are looking for destinations to buy, so you know what shops and eateries will be within a reasonable distance.
2. How safe is your new neighbourhood?
While access to local supermarkets, schools and decent cafes are essential for comfortable day-to-day living, other factors are just as important, if not more so.
One of these is understanding the safety of the neighbourhood. Regardless of whether you have a family, are a solo house-buyer, or a young couple looking for their first home, you must consider whether your new neighbourhood is safe. Not doing so can be a disastrous and regretful move, and we don’t recommend skipping over it.
Safety issues can cover a broad spectrum, and it comes down to your situation. For instance, your priorities might be whether it will be a safe area for your children to ride their bikes, while others might be wondering how secure it would be to walk home from the train station at night or park their cars on the street in front of their house.
Some key things you might want to look for are:
- Break-in statistics
- Motor vehicle theft
- Property damage crimes
- Statistics for crimes such as drug dealing, mugging, etc
To understand what kind of safety issues specifically relate to your neighbourhood, we first recommend looking into the area’s general demographics. These can be found on the Australian Bureau of Statistics website and can break down the data around who lives in your area, the average age, income, general prosperity, etc.
Another perspective that can often be gained (apart from walking around the area and introducing yourself to your neighbours) is to seek out crime conversations on relevant Facebook pages and news outlets.
What are the main topics for discussion here?
Does there appear to be many complaints about the same problems?
Are there discussions around safety?
Consider all of these things before purchasing your home in a new neighbourhood to know exactly how safe it is. The other thing to consider is that your insurance premiums for home and contents and vehicles may be less expensive if the suburb is deemed safe and has a low crime rate.
3. Have you had a chance to meet your potential neighbours?
While going door to door knocking might seem uncomfortable or a little over the top these days, before buying your home, this is one of the things that can help make or break your home-buying decision.
We’ve all heard the horror stories around having bad neighbours. Because of this, it is essential to consider who will be living next door and on your street.
When viewing the property you are considering, look at the nearby houses to see any signs of problems.
Can you see things like broken bottles, rubbish on their lawn, car wrecks, tyre marks on the roads, or unsightly front yards?
Are there tenants that are arguing and yelling at one another?
It is also a good idea to consider things like wild animals.
Is the property under a flight path or next to a main road?
Have there been problems with flooding in bad weather?
These are all things you can learn from taking to your potential neighbours. We recommend visiting at different times of the day and walking around the neighbourhood, introducing yourself to as many people as you see fit to learn more about the community and its residents to decide knowing all the facts.
4. Is the property in a prime location for schools and daycare centres if you have or plan on having children?
If you plan on moving somewhere to raise your children or start a family, knowing what schools are nearby is an essential aspect of the home-buying process. We think it is one of the most important things to look for before buying your home.
Are there good options for schooling? Have you heard good things about those schools from multiple sources?
Are they nearby? Somewhere you could walk or bike to with your children?
Knowing that you have viable options for sending your children to a good school will play a crucial part in whether you are happy or not within your new neighbourhood. You want it to be somewhere nearby and somewhere that you will feel comfortable having your child attend, and so moving to a community where this isn’t likely might not be the best decision for you.
We recommend doing some research into the types of schools within your area and reaching out to local groups or the schools themselves to understand better whether or not it would be for you.
5. Have you considered your transit to work?
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself before buying a new home is how long it will take you to get to work?
Statistically, adults spend more than 1.5 hours a day in traffic on their way to and from work or running errands. While this can be the perfect time to catch up on your local news or favourite podcast, it can also cause an unneeded amount of stress and exhaustion as well.
Before purchasing your home, we recommend looking at the distance between where you are looking at buying and where you currently work or might work in the future.
For the former, are you going to be comfortable driving that every single day?
The closer you live to work, the less time in transit. Likewise, if you find a great job near the new location you will be living, you will find yourself much happier than if you are on the hunt for somewhere new and there are no options nearby.
We recommend people try to imagine driving to and from work, their local grocery store, and schools to get a good feeling for whether or not it seems like a comfortable drive.
Does it seem a little far? Is peak hour traffic terrible?
Are there multiple routes to get somewhere in case of traffic accidents that might cause delays?
In mapping out these regular drives to and from your potential new home and the destinations you would usually visit, you will be able to gauge whether or not you can see yourself calling your new suburb home or not.
6. Is Public transport easily accessible?
For many people who work in the city, public transport is their main form of transport. Trains, buses, and trams are all used daily by thousands of people on their commute to and from work, and so it is crucial to know whether you are going to be nearby these stations or not when moving into your new suburb.
Before buying your home, consider how far it is and how long it will take you to get to your local station.
If you need to drive there, is there going to be parking available every day?
7. Is the area pet friendly?
If you are looking to relocate your family or start one in a new home, we always recommend scoping out the different locations around your new suburb before buying. If you have a pet, this scoping must include how pet-friendly the suburb is.
Ask yourself, are there walking trails or parks you could take your dog too?
Are there dog parks around the neighbourhood you would be able to take your fur baby to?
Is your backyard spacious enough to allow for a pet to live comfortably?
Have you seen others walking their dogs within the area?
While most suburbs in New South Wales provide plenty of space for the entire family, many areas are still developing all-inclusive locations with dog parks and walking tracks.
By paying attention to the areas surrounding your potential new know, you will be able to gauge whether or not the site is going to be comfortable for you and your whole family.
8. Have you noticed any signs of sound pollution, construction, and traffic?
There is nothing more frustrating than the sound of constant construction or busy roads right outside your house. Especially when you have work to get to, children to tend to, and you have a schedule full of never-ending to-do lists.
Even more so, if it is happening late into the evening or early in the morning when you are trying to catch up on rest, this can begin to affect your health.
The sound of constant construction or traffic right outside your house can put a real damper on the home-buying experience and make or break whether or not you love where you buy.
When you are on the real estate hunt and looking for properties, we recommend paying careful attention to how much sound pollution is around your area.
Can you hear the main road or traffic from the bedrooms?
Is it a heavily trafficked area that would stay congested for the majority of the day?
Are there building or shopping centre construction sites close by that look like they might be around for the foreseeable future?
If any of the answers are yes, you might want to think again about settling in a location that could cause you frustration and sleep loss.
Avoid disappointment and do your research
The only way to avoid disappointment is to spend time doing your research. Whether it’s scoping out schools and dog park or driving the route to work during peak hour and at various times of the day, all this stuff requires time and effort.
But all of these small things matter. Every aspect adds up to affect your overall quality of life, so if you’re serious about a property, it’s worth spending the time rolling up your sleeves and doing the research.
Good luck and happy home hunting!