When most people are looking for property, they go to the large real estate website; whether they are trying to find a house in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or any other place in Australia, they will usually head for www.realestate.com.au or www.domain.com.au and sometimes www.realestateview.com.au. These are all pretty good places, but they are all more or less websites that advertise property. If you want to get the real information about any property that you are thinking of buying, there are 3 things you can do that will help you find out all you need so that you can purchase the best.
USE A REAL ESTATE AGENT
This is not your own real estate agent; rather, they represent their clients, the people selling the property. Because of this, they may not give you information as you want it, but there are certain questions that you can ask them that sort of force them to tell you what you need to know:
- Why is their client selling the property?
- How long have they had the property listed for sale?
- Has anyone expressed an interest in the property and how much?
- Has anyone committed to buying by signing a contract?
- Is the buyer expected to incur big costs in repairs?
If you ask your questions like this, you are being rather specific and it leaves them no option than to give you specific answer. You should finish by asking property-specific questions, like if there are shared amenities and who you will be sharing them with. Let’s see what some of the answers will tell you: if you ask how long a property has been in the market and you are told 6 weeks, which is how long it takes for a property to be sold, it means that there is something about the house that is not very attractive to buyers. It also means that the owner may be getting frustrated and is tire of listing and he can come down on price.
If you learn that a client is selling because they lost their jobs, you immediately know that they are desperate to get out of a bigger mortgage than they can afford and this means that you can negotiate for lower prices. It is important to know who you will be sharing the property with; it could be that the client is selling because they could no longer stand the neighbours from hell. Remember that agents are only paid when they find a buyer so if there is a way for you to find out who the seller is and deal with them directly, they will be happy to avoid agent’s fees.
USE ONLINE REAL ESTATE REPORTS
There are companies whose job it is to report on the real estate market. They will usually come on TV and in newspapers with reports on various properties that are for sale; they give information on properties in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and other parts of Australia. To collect information, which is vast because of all the properties being traded at any one time, they use real estate agents as well as the State Government agency that covers all sales of properties, and this information is available to you for a small fee if you want it. Real estate agents, property valuers, banks and other financial lenders collate the information that need to make decision concerning property values and they use these reports, so you can trust them as a reliable source of information. The 3 main companies for this kind of information are RP Data, Residex and Australia Property monitors. All these companies have websites where for a fee, you can download any reports that you want.
AS A FUTURE INVESTOR, YOU ARE LOOKING FOR 3 SPECIFIC REPORTS:
- The first gives house price estimates which is a value that is derived using a computer program using the last sale price of the property as well as the current average selling price of similar properties in the area. Since it is relies on estimates, you should use it only as a guide, not an indicator of what you pay for a house.
- The second report is a comparison between your house and other similar houses in the area. The value of this is the comparative sales price evidence that you can use when you are negotiating. You may have done a lot of renovation work on your property, adding to its value but it is unlikely that the market will be very sensitive to this; the main comparison is with other similar properties that are near you.
- The last report is a Postcode sales report which tells you of all the properties that were sold and where they were sold in the last 12 months. If you are wondering what these reports would cost you, it isn’t much: none of them goes for more than $100, and that’s very little when you think about the kind of information that is in these reports.
USE YOUR SMART PHONE
Did you know that there apps (and some of them are free and very good) that you can use to instantly tell the value of a property? All you need to do is stand in front of the property and then put on the app. It will find the location, give you a list of all recent sale and purchase activity on the property and give you a good idea of what the house value is in the current market. Some good ones are ANZ Property Tracker, Westpac Home Finder, Commonwealth Property Guide and Property Mate or St. George. They are easy to find and just go to your App Store and they are available for download on different kinds of smart phones.
TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL
This is a mortgage professional and no, you will not find them at your bank. These are individuals who have understood the mortgage market in Australia and who consult with individuals for a fee. Even when you have the reports and the fee, it can be hard for a layman to know how to interpret all the information that they receive. These professionals can be found in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and in other major cities in Australia. It doesn’t matter if you feel that you have understood all the information that you gathered and talk to them still. A very small detail that escaped your attention could make the difference in how much you buy a property for. They also usually have projections about the future of Australia’s housing market which can be quite useful.
Finally, buying a property is one of the biggest investments most of us make in our lives. It is not just a financial decision; it is an emotional one as well. It is very important that you keep your perspective when you are looking for property to invest in. Keep your emotions in check; some people, for example, view a property, get attached to it and end up buying it even though it is out of their budget ceiling. That is why it is important to have someone with an independent view of the transactions.