It is smart to know what you are getting for your (or your bank's) money! Keep the following points in mind before you put an offer to the vendor. We've also included a few to consider when working through the process of offer and acceptance.
Are there any zoning or other restrictions on the property? These may affect your ability to extend or otherwise modify your home at a later date.
If you are buying a unit, confirm the body-corporate fees and read the rules, otherwise your beloved Lassie may be looking for a new home.
Check that no part of your property such as a balcony or a second story overhangs another property. Seek professional advice if you are unsure.
Check for tell tale signs of flooding, such as warped timber or muddy stains on concrete. Go to council libraries and see if any historic flood maps are available. During the recent drought and property boom, many buyers have forgotten times of high rainfall. For example, some areas in Brisbane that had been cheap for decades after the 1974 floods have now returned to normal or premium price levels, without any change in their susceptibility to flooding.
Assess how the surrounding skyline, streetscape, line of sight (from balconies etc.) might change in the future. Development can be good for property prices, but not when your house becomes adversely affected by other developers' activities. Nearby building sites be annoying as well, so investigate the probability of planned developments with the local council.
Have your solicitor check the title to ensure that there are no easements restricting your use of the land.
Make sure that no roads or freeways are marked as likely to be built either through your property, or in the adjacent area.
Check that council approval was obtained for all extensions and renovations that your property has undergone. Once you own the property, you may be liable for unapproved changes.
Ensure you commission a building inspection, to check for cracks associated with settling, and other defects such as rising damp or termites.
Remember that any 'issues' unearthed during your checks may help you to negotiate a reduced purchase price.
Damon Rasheed is the CEO of Rate Detective, an Australian financial service comparison sites specialising in Life Insurance, Income Protection Insurance and home loans. Damon holds a Master's Degree in Economics from the University of Melbourne and has been involved in many start-up internet businesses.
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