Whether you’re looking for a home loan or your first home or an investment, when you’re on the lookout for a house, it is important to do your due diligence and carefully consider all your options before making a decision, especially since home ownership has fallen from 70% to 67% in 2021. While it may be tempting to focus on aesthetics and other positives, it is crucial to consider every factor that can have a significant impact on your comfort and financial stability in the long run. In this article, we’ll take you through what you should look for in a home before you buy.

What to look for in a home before you buy: 

  • Style, size, and floor plans 
  • Condition of the home
  • Features of the home
  • Foundations and roof
  • Location and neighbourhood
  • Yard size and pool 

Style, size, and floor plans

First things first, consider the size of the house. The size impacts the overall cost of the property, the amount of maintenance and cleaning it needs, and what you need it for. Bigger homes have bigger energy bills. On the flip side, bigger homes can accommodate a growing family. Make sure that the size and layout of the home are suited to your current and future needs. Storage space is often an overlooked aspect when it comes to looking at prospective homes. Check if the home has enough storage to accommodate your family’s essentials, hobbies, and any future endeavours. For instance, you might want to factor in a walk-in closet, extra space in the garage for another car, special storage areas for your fishing, skiing, golfing, or crafting equipment, or even a home office for your small business.

Also, think about the style of the home and whether it fits your personal aesthetic. Different architectural styles can have different aesthetic appeals and may be more or less compatible with your personal taste. This can also impact the market value of the home, as some styles may be in more demand in your area. 

Finally, consider the floor plans. The layout of the rooms and flow of the space can impact the functionality of the house. If you plan on remodelling parts of the home, pay special attention to the floor plan – is there a part of the property you want to change? How easy is it to remodel and change parts of the home?  

Condition of the home

In addition to the floor plan, also consider the overall condition of the home. While older homes can be charming, they may come with a higher risk of maintenance and repair issues. Look into water quality, plumbing, power outlets, and the quality of fixtures. If the property has a well, remember to get a water quality report.

Examine the house carefully beyond staged areas. Is there any mould, pests, or water damage? How structurally sound is the foundation? Does the home need an additional coat of paint? Is the roof good enough, or does it need more work? 

If the property has recently been renovated, what is really under that fresh coat of paint? A pest and building inspection is a must to avoid future unpleasant surprises.  

And has the extension at the back been approved by the council? A conveyancer or property lawyer will help answer your questions, make sure that there is no painful easement or give you essential information such as whether they’re planning a road enlargement into your front yard.

Energy efficiency is also a crucial factor you should consider. This can have a major impact on your carbon footprint and monthly budget. Find homes with energy-efficient appliances and insulation. 

Features of the home

Next, think about the general features of the room. How many bedrooms would you want, and where would you want them? For example, parents with young children might want to convert a bedroom on a different floor into a nursery. Some might want to remodel a bedroom into a guest bedroom or a home office.

The kitchen is also an expensive feature to factor in – does the kitchen have modern appliances, or is a remodel necessary? Is the kitchen big enough for an island, or do some walls need to be torn down?

kitchen island and barstools in kitchen with outdoor deck and wooden floorboards

Foundations and roof 

It is crucial to carefully examine the foundations of the building you’re considering buying, as they support the entire weight of the home. The foundation upholds the structural integrity and stability of the building. Carefully inspect the foundations of the home and check for water damage, mould, and pests. Discuss rates for necessary repairs and replacements.

Don’t forget to look up – the roof protects the interior of the home from the elements, and is as important as the foundation. Check the attic for a leaky roof, and make repairs if necessary. Ignoring issues with roofing can be a costly mistake, so a pest and building inspection is the best way to protect your investment.

Location and Neighbourhood

The location of your property has a huge impact on its market value and quality of life. If you want to move in with your family, consider how close your home is to schools, public transportation, parks, grocery stores, and restaurants. It is also important to look at the crime rate and overall safety of the neighbourhood.

  • School zones. For example, a property in the McKinnon school zone in Melbourne may be $100k+ more than a property just outside the zone. When you factor in the cost of private schools, and if you have a large family, you might choose to move to the zone of a prestigious public school instead.
  • Public transport. Property within walking distance of a train station can be really prized,  especially with the price of petrol.
  • Crime rate. This is an important point, especially if you are going outside of the areas you know well in an attempt to find a more affordable property. The main question to ask is: will you feel safe walking home at night from the train station?

In addition, consider how important it is for you to have social neighbours. If you want to be an active member of the community, you might want to opt for a more active neighbourhood that organises events on a regular basis. A few questions you might want to ask the owner and your agent are: 

  • What is the crime rate in the area? Is there a neighbourhood watch?
  • What is the market value of homes in the local area?
  • How close is the property to schools, bus and train stations, supermarkets, and hospitals?
  • Are there any big developments planned for the area that might impact property value and lifestyle? 

Yard size and Pool

The size and style of the yard are almost as important as the house itself. What type of yard would you want –  low-maintenance landscaping, trees, a pond, a pool, or a rich garden?

Emmanuel, Home Loan Broker from Loanscope remarks, “You can never underestimate the advantage of a good yard. A comfortable backyard makes you a good host, and lets you enjoy some quality time with the family as well. Size doesn’t matter here – even a small but tasteful yard can make a huge difference in resale value and quality of life, so it is important to find the right fit.”

What to consider before purchasing a house

Look out for mould and water damage

Mould and water damage are serious problems as they can cause major health and safety issues for residents. They can also gravely impact the value and durability of the property. Water damage from a leaky roof, broken pipe, or natural disaster can cause structural damage and encourage the growth of mould. Mould can cause respiratory problems and allergies, especially in children and immune-compromised individuals. So, remember to speak to the owners and thoroughly inspect the home for any signs of mould or water damage before making your purchase. If you find damage, discuss repairs and replacements and factor this into your asking price. 

Incentive to sell

The owner’s incentive to sell is an important factor to consider before purchasing a home. It is helpful to understand what the seller’s motivations may be, as it can give you an insight into how much they expect their home to sell for. This can help you negotiate better. For instance, if the seller is in a hurry, they may be more willing to accept a lower offer. If sellers want to get rid of the property because there is structural damage, they might try to entice you with a lower price. Knowing why someone wants to sell their home is therefore important so you can make an informed purchasing decision. 

If you are too time poor or new to the country, you might even consider a buyer’s agent that will work for you. Real estate agents are paid by the vendors that’s why it’s important to get advice from different parties. 

Final thoughts

In short, to find the right property you need:

  • A good conveyancer 
  • A pest and building inspector if you are unsure of the quality of the home or if it has been recently renovated
  • A buyer’s agent if you are time poor or new to the country 
  • A good mortgage broker helps you understand your budget and what properties the bank will accept as security. Some properties might be considered commercial or too small for some apartments. And, for example, If it has flammable cladding or an asbestos roof caving into the living room the bank might refuse to take that property on.

Buying a home is a major investment, and you deserve to find the best deal and get answers to all your questions! Contact us today and we can help you find a good home.   

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute tax or financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without prior written consent.

Emmanuel Guignard (MBA)
Director & Principal Mortgage Broker
With over 15 years’ experience in the finance industry and a recently completed MBA in Financial Planning, Emmanuel leads the broking team at Loanscope. His experience includes working with a wide range of property investors, from first time buyers to investors with large property portfolios. This includes handling complex applications involving trusts, company structures and self-managed super funds. He also operates as a qualified mentor to other mortgage brokers via the FBBA mentor program.
Emmanuel Guignard