1. Decide on your must-haves
Before you set out on your house hunting journey, determine your priorities; the things you would like in a property. These could include the area you would like to live in, number of bedrooms or bathrooms, particular features like double glazing or a heat pump, a garden or a garage. Make a note of your budget too!
Write these down and get your family or partner to add their wishlist to yours. Then decide on the top five must-haves. These are the absolute minimum requirements you simply can’t live without. Keep your priority list close at hand when you start looking so you don’t get distracted in your search.
2. Take notes and compare
It’s not surprising the details become a little blurry after spending several weekends visiting open homes. So, draw up a comparison chart for yourself to help you keep track of the features at each property you visit, and make notes as you go.
Aside from the basics of the property – number of bedrooms and bathrooms – take careful note of things like outside areas - the garden and garage, as well as access from outside to inside - how much natural light there is in each room, and how much storage and cupboard space there is.
3. Stay focused and on track
When you visit a home you really like for the first time, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it and let your emotions rule your mind. After you’ve had a chance to mentally note your first impressions, take a second walk through and focus on your checklist.
You may even want to draw a quick floor plan for yourself of the rooms, any doorways, windows, and stairs, so you can begin to visualise your own furniture in the home. Ask the real estate agent for permission before taking any photos or videos.
Don’t forget to check the things outside of your normal vision – like the ceilings, window trim, floors and even under the sink or behind the toilet. And if you do find a property you really like, it’s worthwhile going back for a second viewing as you may notice features you missed the first-time round.
Get your mortgage finance pre-approved
There’s a lot of focus on first home buyers, with Government incentives designed to help save a deposit and get a foot onto the property ladder. Second-steppers – those who already own a home and are looking to upsize or upgrade – are sometimes overlooked. If you’re one of the second-steppers trying to move up the property ladder, here are a few ways to do that.
Use the equity in your home
Most people assume that once you own a property, it’s easy enough to keep moving up the property ladder. That’s not always the case, but there are a few strategies that can help you climb a little quicker.
As a second-stepper, you’re already in a much healthier financial position as you don’t have to work nearly as hard to build up a deposit when considering buying your next home. If your current home has risen in value thanks to rising property prices in your area, you may already have enough equity to cover your deposit. What’s more, having already established a good borrowing record, securing finance for your next home is that much easier.
If you don’t have enough equity in your existing home, you’ll need to boost this with savings which means you may have to put your moving plans on hold until you’ve built up a sizeable savings fund or you’ve paid a little more into your existing mortgage.
Look for a deal
One way to get keep moving up the property ladder is to look for a deal – a property that may need a little work but will ultimately bring in the bucks if you spend a little time and effort on it.
You could try buying on the outskirts of a desirable area where properties may be more affordable but likely to increase in value over time, or buy “the worst house in the best street” and renovate or refresh to bring it up to standard. Sometimes just modernising a kitchen or bathroom, a decent paint job or a garden clear out can improve value and help build equity, so try to look beyond the imperfections.
Refinance your home loan
If you are thinking about moving up the property ladder, it’s a good time to review your existing home loan and think about refinancing. You should also compare your existing home loan with any new deals on the market as there could be an opportunity for improvement.
Working with a professional mortgage adviser from the start can help set you up with the right home loan to maximise your investment. Talk to a Mortgage Express adviser about arranging your finances to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.