Finding the home you want

Research the property and the area

Research the capital growth history of the area and the potential rental income of the property. The local real estate agents are a good place to start

If you're buying a unit, a good tip is that the managing agent will have a complete history of the unit and the apartment block. A small fee will apply for strata searches, but it's worth it

It's a good idea to buy in an area that suits your needs and lifestyle, e.g. close to schools, shops, transport, or close to parks and beaches. Your first home may not be perfect, but it's a great place to start

The Real Estate Institute of Australia website has a wealth of information, such as finding your local real estate agent, market reports, property listing sites and more

Finding the home you want

The Property Buyers Guide is full of great information to help you buy the property to match your needs. It's a checklist where you can keep a record of all the properties you've seen. You can jot down everything from the address of the property and real estate agent's details, to the number of bedrooms plus services and facilities in the local area.

Who are Home Buyer's Advocates?

Buyer's Agents or Buyer's Advocates work for real estate agents and give professional advice on what property to buy or lease. They weigh up the investment risk and negotiate the best price. A fee applies for this expert service. In Sydney and Melbourne it's generally around $6,000 or 2% of the purchase price.

Do your inspections

Get your building and pest inspections done. It will cost a little, but if you find problems it will save you a lot of money, and headaches, in the long run.

The Department of Fair Trading's website advises on fair and ethical practices for buying, selling and renovating your home

Take a closer look

When you've found a property you're really interested in, here are just some of the things to look out for:

Make sure you inspect the property more than just once

Visit it at different times of the day/night and week so you can gauge traffic and noise levels

A rainy day is perfect to see if there are any leaks

Are there any cracks in the walls (interior and exterior)?

If it is an old house and the carpet is lifting up in places, have a look at the state of the floorboards

You may see signs of mould, white ants, borers or other problems

Is there a musty smell? It may indicate rising damp or water damage

Check the walls on the other side of the bathroom for signs of water damage/rotting wood

Understand the contract

Your solicitor or conveyancer should read the Contract of Sale. Are you happy with what's included in the sale? Are all the fittings included? The outdoor BBQ? Tools in the shed? Any furniture? Ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. And make sure it's all written in the agreement.

What does "tendering" mean?

Sometimes, when there is exceptional interest in a property, a seller may decide that they'll only accept written offers or sealed bids. In this case you're best to speak with your solicitor first. You can "tender" for properties at private sales and auctions.

Negotiating a price

You can only negotiate for private treaty sales. Naturally sellers want the highest price for their property and buyers want to pay the least amount. The seller expects you to make a lower offer, but not so low that it's out of the question. Generally, people are prepared to meet somewhere in the middle.