Why you need to look – and inspect – before you take the plunge
If you’ve been on The Property Inspectors mailing list for a while, you may remember that a couple of years ago I talked about the Auckland housing market. And while time has passed, properties are in just as hot demand as they have ever been (if not even more). It can be a bumpy road to home ownership, but here are a few things to remember when you’re on the hunt for a new house – whether it’s an investment property or somewhere you want to call home.
I stressed this last time, and I’ll stress it again – don’t buy sight unseen. While purchasing a house is seen a rite of passage of sorts, it’s important to remember that it’s a really big financial decision. Just because a home is within your budget and looks lovely in all the photos doesn’t mean that you should jump on it as soon as it pops up on your radar.
And when you’re looking, you need to really look. That means more than just a cursory tour – it means examining it thoroughly yourself, and enlisting the help of a property inspector to ensure that there aren’t any nasty surprises hidden in a home that looks just fine to the untrained eye.
So, since you’re making sure to have a proactive look at the property before making any decisions, there are some crucial things to keep in mind – things that are all about your needs and wants, rather than the attention to detail that an inspection will provide.
- Where it is. It may seem obvious, but there’s a lot more to a suburb than a good school or a nice set of shops. Be sure to consider your transportation options – just because it’s handy to your current job, is it going to be a nightmare of a commute if you get relocated to another area of the city? With lots of companies shifting some or all operations from the CBD to areas like Rosedale and East Tamaki, what may be a quick run into town can turn into something rather different if you’re going into a different flow of traffic.
- Natural light and airflow. Ventilation has come up as a talking point in previous months – so if you’re buying a home, it pays to make sure that the property in question has decent airflow and windows. And natural sunlight isn’t just a pleasant extra; it can go a long way to keeping rooms more inhabitable in colder months.
- Storage space. What’s the cupboard and cabinet situation like? While plenty of modern houses will have adequate built-in wardrobes and storage spaces, some older homes won’t be so well fitted out. Take into account how much stuff you have that will need stashing – because if it doesn’t fit into the existing facilities, you’re going to have some serious extra carpentry or furniture bills to take care of down the track.
- Layout. Make sure that the house’s layout suits your needs. Have you got a toddler that needs a room next door to the master bedroom? Or do you have wayward teens whose racket could do with a staircase between them and the rest of the house? Things can look great, but if they don’t function in harmony with your lifestyle, you’re not going last long there.
- Privacy. Does the master bedroom look right into the neighbours’ bathroom? Will your kids be able to run amok in the backyard without parenting evaluations from the woman from next-door’s deckchair? Some privacy issues can be rectified with fences and hedges – but as we’ll have all seen in the media, there are lots of neighbourly and council-related issues that can come up.
It may seem like a wild housing market world out there, but there are plenty of opportunities for the dedicated house-hunter. And once you’ve found one that seems to tick all of the boxes, give me a call – I’ll make sure that it ticks all of the official ones too.
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