Property Guideline

Complete Checklist: Buying an Australian Property in 2024

Buying a new property is a complex process and there are lots of things you need to think about. The buying process can be a very stressful period and it is easy to forget something crucial that will delay or even stop the whole transaction.

You can engage professionals, such as mortgage brokers and conveyancers, to help you through the process. However, there are several things you also have to do yourself so the aim here is to ensure you don’t omit anything that’s important.

Preliminary Buying a House Checklist

Planning and preparation are key to a successful property purchase transaction. Therefore, before you even start the process, there are certain things you must do.

  1. Check what you can afford. The normal deposit is 20% of the purchase price. A higher amount will increase your chances of obtaining finance and reduce your monthly repayments while a lower one may mean you have to buy a lender’s mortgage insurance unless you qualify for a government-assisted loan.

    Assess the savings you currently have available and deduct up-front costs such as legal fees, state taxes, stamp duty, moving costs and required inspections. Whatever you have left will help to determine the type of property you can afford. If you are short, you’ll either have to delay the purchase until you save enough or lower your expectations to a cheaper property.

    Do not underestimate the importance of this because a full deposit can take years to save for. A government-assisted loan can avoid this and also means you don’t have to buy a lender’s mortgage insurance but you will need to qualify. Offset and redraw mortgages can add flexibility in repayments, as do interest-only loans although the principal amount will still have to be repaid at a later date so payments will increase later.

  2. Check locations. The area you choose to live in will affect how happy you are there and the price of property — desirable neighbourhoods have higher prices. When checking the area, look at recreation facilities, transport links for work and nearby schools if you have young children. It’s also important to know what is planned for the area, which may be good if it adds further facilities or bad if new roads or industrial units are to be built. Check whether the area is quiet, what the crime rate is, general outlook and average property prices. Find out whether the area is prone to flooding by looking at local flood maps although a property on a sloping site may counteract this problem. The results of your research may prompt you to try a different location.
  3. Obtain pre-approved finance. Once you’ve determined what you can afford and the area where you’d like to live, it’s best to obtain pre-approval for the amount you can borrow. Once you find the property you want to buy, this will demonstrate to the seller that you can afford it and will make the sale go through much more smoothly. A loan advisor or mortgage broker can help you find the most suitable type of finance that will fit your needs and circumstances.

Checklist for Buying a House

You’re now in a position to find your ideal house and make the purchase. To do this:

1. Choose the house you want to buy and which you can afford, then make an acceptable offer.

2. Appoint a conveyancer who will ensure the transaction goes correctly and smoothly by:

  • checking the Contract of Sale and Form 1 that includes details of the cooling-off period
  • ensuring necessary clauses are inserted in the contract, such as if the purchase is subject to satisfactory inspections and the sale of your existing house
  • ensuring the required deposit is paid
  • undertaking searches to check property titles and any restrictions
  • calculating the adjustment of rates and taxes
  • making sure all fees and costs are paid
  • ensuring full settlement and transfer of title by the agreed date.

3. Organise building and pest inspections to ensure the house is structurally sound, has no safety issues and is free from infestations. These inspections are essential to make sure you don’t incur unexpected costs and don’t have regrets later.

Buying a House Checklist – Post Contract Signing

Once you’ve signed the contract of sale, this means you will become the owner of the property when everything is completed, and you reach the agreed settlement date. During the period up to then, you need to make numerous arrangements to ensure you are ready to go on the appointed date.

  • Arrange for the collection of the house keys from the agent once settlement is complete.
  • Organise a moving company to transfer your belongings on the appointed date.
  • If you’re moving from a rented property, give written notice to your landlord.
  • Ensure you have adequate insurance for your new house and its contents.
  • Notify gas, electricity, water and telephone companies plus your local council that you are moving, providing the date and your new address.
  • Cancel deliveries of newspapers, milk, etc.
  • Arrange a change of address for your mail.
  • Provide your new address to various interested parties such as your bank, employer, tax office and insurance providers. Also inform family members, friends and anyone else you know.

Avoiding Stress with a Comprehensive Checklist

Buying a new house is one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make and the whole process of buying, selling and moving can be extremely stressful. Making a mistake in the process can cause delays and even a lost deposit and failure to buy the property at all. If you move in without adequate preparation, you can suffer weeks of frustration until everything is sorted out.

But if you plan and prepare properly, follow your checklists and make sure you do everything that’s necessary in good time, you will make the process much smoother. Using a professional and licensed conveyancer will also ensure you meet all legal requirements and achieve your settlement date.

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