Important considerations for purchasing your first home

Purchasing a new house or block of land is a major lifetime event. All buyers should strive to get it right as much as possible. To educate and inform current and new homeowners, SBS Radio is running a show, appropriately named, “Smart Living”. I am privileged to have been invited to this show to give my opinion about important things you need to know about buying your next home or block of land.

The podcast of the show that discussed Key Considerations When Purchasing Property is being embedded here. Here is the gist of the conversation I had on that show on 12 May 2016.


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Considerations for purchasing a new house

We will cover in this section

  1. Setting a budget for your purchase
  2. Identifying the size of property suitable for your family
  3. Selection of suburbs
  4. Visual inspection of the property for inclines, shades & privacy
  5. Need for house and pest inspection
  6. Council checks
  7. Swimming Pool Compliance
  8. Some other factors that can at times be very important.

Before you consider purchasing, set your budget. You need to consider your income, expenses, available funds and savings. Get your loan pre-approved from the banks. They will factor in your loan servicing capacity and accordingly sanction a limit. Once a loan is pre-approved it is highly recommended that purchases be done within the limit sanctioned. Overstretching yourself in the bidding process is not at all advisable. Banks are tough and many a times do not approve the excessive amount committed by you. This can lead to forfeiture of your deposit for locking in the purchase price.

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After you have sorted your funds available for purchasing a property, sit down with your family and identify what is the size of property you need. You need to consider the size of the house, number of bedrooms (based on your family size), block size, etc. You also need to factor in facilities such as schools, shops, transport, hospital, childcare, distance to work that are important to you. Buying a house is a lifetime decision and should be carefully considered from all possible angles.

Once you have zeroed on your budget and your house size, start looking for suburbs where properties of the type you want are available within your budget range. Shortlist 2-3 suburbs to start your property hunt. Remember location is of paramount importance. You need to look for streets that are away from main and busy roads and not too far from station/buses. These are very important considerations as they will affect you on a daily basis.

After shortlisting a few properties that interest you, do some further research. Walk down the street and check out the orientation of the property relative to the sun. North facing properties that provide sun in the backyard have the most favourable orientation. You also need to look at how the land slopes. Land sloping to the rear is always an issue when extending your construction or about the usability of the property.

You also need to avoid properties with steep slopes as they are difficult to access, especially for the elderly. Steep slopes anyway cause problems for driving in and out. Also check out for existing trees on site (solar access) and for extension in future, noise from the neighbourhood or from train traffic from the vicinity, acoustic levels, visual privacy from neighbours – their window/balcony should not be compromising your privacy by providing peeping opportunities into your property. It is also very important to look for overshadowing into your property, particularly in the backyard.

Having selected a house to purchase, it is advisable that you do house inspection, pest inspection and valuation of the house before you finalize a deal. There are a plenty of cases that come to highlight regularly where buyers were able to renegotiate prices due to termite damage, presence of asbestos. Also banks ask for valuation of property before loan is sanctioned. Taking these due precautions help buyers avoid major losses and are also advisable from the caveat emptor principle.

Further you also need to look at sewer line or drainage assessment that may affect your house extensions in future. NSW Swimming Code laws have recently changed and every property needs to have compliance before they can be rented or sold. You should check with council for any illegal construction (construction/extension changes to the original house without council approval) and also about the heritage and conservation area classification of the property.

Some other considerations that should not be overlooked are:

  • Bushfire danger to the property due to proximity to forests
  • Flood danger to the property, especially for properties in low-lying areas
  • Impact on property valuations from future activity in the neighbourhood such as widening of the roads or DA approval for large constructions.

Considerations for purchasing a new plot of land

Most considerations that apply to purchase of house also apply to buying a new plot of land. Some additional items should be kept in mind are:

  • Avoid land with steep land slope as steep sloped impact accessibility and lead to higher construction costs
  • Avoid land with narrow street frontage -as it has design constraints, particularly for project homes
  • Avoid land with rocks as it can cost a lot to cut and excavate
  • Avoid block of land that has drainage easements or large sewer line in your property as it undermines the value of your property and also may limit your design flexibility
  • Avoid property that has overhead grid powerlines in the vicinity. These can impose design constraints and undermine the value of property

Once you have done these inspections you should still review the property with your architect to ensure you haven’t missed on any other major considerations. My clients have always been thankful for having taken my advice before finalizing a purchase. It has helped them save a fortune many a times.

If you have any further questions please feel free to make an enquiry with me on the website. Alternatively you can call me on 0411 058 064.
Lalit Mital
Principal Architect
Dynamic Design Solutions