Tag Archives: buying property

getting to know your neighbourhood by walking the dog

Getting to know your new neighbourhood

Buying a new home often means moving to a new suburb, city or even country. It may be a new location you chose simply because you loved it, or it maybe it’s where you need to be for work or family. Whatever the reason for your change in location, it can be a little daunting finding ways to get to know the neighbourhood and have it start feeling like home.

Here are a few ideas for breaking the ice suggested by the Harcourts’ Facebook community, along with a few others we’ve come up with as well.

  • Ask the experts: A good place to start finding out what’s good in your new ‘hood is to ask the real estate agent you purchased from. In the course of buying you would have talked to them about the big things like nearby schools, or transport routes. But they’re experts in their local area so they’re also a great resource to ask about everything from finding the best coffee and great parks and playgrounds, to the best local shops and restaurants.
  • Walk the walk: Spend a weekend or two getting lost. Take to the streets on foot and just wander around. You’ll see much more than you would from the car so you’re much more likely to uncover the neighbourhoods hidden gems – and you’ll quickly get your bearings for where everything is. If you’re in a large city you don’t know then do the same on a larger scale in your car and you’ll quickly learn the best driving routes and how all the suburbs fit together.
  • Talk the talk: While you’re walking stop and have a chat or even just a passing “hello” to any of your neighbours you come across out and about or working in their garden. It’s a relaxed way to break the ice. Once you’ve found that café serving great coffee, make it your regular and get chatting to the staff, or strike up a conversation with the local shop owners.Once you start finding a few local favourites you’ll start to meet some of the same faces each visit.
  • Knock on the front door: The best way to meet people is the most direct. It can be a little intimidating but it is a great way to meet your neighbours, especially those closest who you’ll see most often. If you want an icebreaker take them a small gift like a cake, or invite them over for a drink. Or use the old classics like ask to borrow some milk for your first cuppa – and be sure to return it with interest.
  • Be seen: The opposite of heading next door to meet the neighbours is to just be visible and approachable in and around your property. If you’re mowing the lawns or gardening in the front garden just be aware of who’s outside as well and give them a wave and a hello.
  • Be cool after school: If you have school-aged children, get involved in school activities, sports and events. It’s a great way to help your kids settle in and you’ll quickly become part of the school community. The same is true for sports clubs.
  • Hook yourself up: Spend some time finding and reading local newsletters, newspapers, community Facebook groups, supermarket community noticeboards, and websites such as Neighbourly. They’re a great place to find out about local events, organisations in need of volunteers, or even on-going projects such as community gardens and working bees; all great places to meet people and start getting involved. Good luck getting to know your neighbourhood!

property tax

Buying Property: Before you sign, do this!

The house is exactly what you’re looking for at the right price. There are other buyers circling with offers, and you feel an urgency to do something or miss out.

Take a breath.

A real estate dream can sometimes end as a nightmare, but with the right advice and a little investigation and patience, you can minimise the risk of buying to almost zero.

It all begins with taking the time to ask the right questions of your Sales Consultant, and being aware of where to find all the right information that will give you a complete, 360 degree view of the property.

The risk-reducing information you are seeking roughly falls into four categories. (Please note: This article in no way intends to be an exhaustive list, but simply advice for home buyers).

Something that potentially devalues the property

If you inspected the home on the weekend, be aware that the peace and tranquillity that impressed you so much may be non-existent during the week.

There may be rowdy neighbours, barking dogs, or industrial noise close by, or perhaps a local factory producing unsavoury smells during weekdays. Chances are you will only discover this if you visit the home at alternative times.

The boundaries of the land may have looked obvious, but there may be an easement or crown land bordering the allotment that effectively reduce your property’s size from what it seems.

Title searches are available from Government agencies, which will reveal exactly what you are getting for your money in terms of land size, and where you can build any extensions safely and legally.

Be aware that everything you see within the home may not be included. On occasions, sellers may allocate something within as a “chattel” which they intend to take with them after the sale. Ask your Harcourts Sales Consultant for a copy of the chattels inventory.

The difference between a fixture (that which must legally stay with the house) and a chattel can be a grey area, and some potential buyers go to the extent of taking a photo of all chattels mentioned.

For example, the elaborate storage system in the garage, or even an integrated sound system may be classified as chattels if they are not deemed to be permanently fitted to the home and are listed in the sale contract.

Buying Property with an improvement that may be non-compliant or illegal

Laws and regulations change, so even though a home or structure was compliant and legal at the time it was built, it may now be non-compliant or illegal. Normal wear and tear can have the same affect.

Swimming pools are a common case-in-point, with regulations governing pool fencing becoming much more stringent over the years. A pergola built by an owner/builder may look completely acceptable, but only an inspection by a building inspector will give you peace of mind.

Your perceived value of a home could change significantly if you discover that you are responsible for building significant pool fencing or another alteration to ensure your new home meets the appropriate standards.

Building structural flaws

A damp patch in the lawn may indicate faulty water pipes, or mould in the ceiling a leaking roof.

A recently survey of over 3000 homes by building inspectors found that one-in-four homes displayed evidence of structural cracking and movement, while one in eight showed structural pest damage which had the potential to damage the integrity of the entire property.

Sometimes significant structural issues are not immediately obvious.

For these and many other reasons, viewing a pest and building inspection is a no-brainer. Although a pro-active seller will sometimes have these undertaken before a sale, buyers often prefer an independent inspection.

Too risky for finance

If a property is deemed as high risk of flooding or bush fire, or is zoned for commercial development, bank finance may become more expensive, or even impossible. Appropriate searches should discover these factors.

Each State in Australia has different laws governing real estate contracts, so your best bet is to have a good talk with your Harcourts Sales Consultant who will walk you through the finer details of the property, and let you know where you can find further information to give you complete confidence to proceed as needed.