New bungalow house with green lawn

Sorting the gems from the gravel: what to look for before purchasing a home.

If you’re already looking into buying a home, we don’t need to tell you there’s a bit to consider. It’s important to think about things that could not only add value to your home – but avoid costing you money in the long run.

Before you sign on the dotted line, it pays to do some really thorough homework, ideally in five key areas: the building, the surrounds, local amenities, income potential and council regulations.

Putting in the extra effort ahead of purchase ensures that buying your dream house won’t turn into an expensive nightmare down the track, saddling you with a bottomless money-pit and succession of sleepless nights.

Here are some of the main things to consider:

The building

Pay close attention to the structure of the house itself. Telltale signs of potential issues could include damp patches or cracks in the walls, faulty plumbing or wiring, signs of mould, sagging ceilings, rotting window frames, cracks or holes in floorboards, cracked tiles and loose grout.

Remember that there might be only so much you can spot with the naked eye, and most houses will have at least one problem that needs to be addressed – so it’s a good idea to enlist the help of a professional and get a building survey done.

Full knowledge gives you greater bargaining power, to account for any additional costs, while also minimising the possibility of any nasty surprises once the sale has gone through.

The surrounds

Take a walk around the property’s boundary or fence-line to see if any maintenance work might be needed. If you’re planning on adding an extension, check for any trees, boulders or other obstructions that could impede progress. Check the exterior for rusty guttering, leaky downpipes, the condition of the roof and eaves and any signs of termite or pest issues. Also find out if the area is prone to flooding or bush fires.

Local amenities

Location, location, location, as the saying goes. Ask yourself what’s most important to have nearby – whether it’s a shopping centre, a good school, green spaces or a bustling café. You may not find a place that has absolutely everything you’d like, but ranking your requirements in order of preference will clarify in your mind what you most want from your local area. It’s also important to consider the potential for capital growth, by researching factors like local population growth, gentrification, or plans for improved transport or other infrastructure development, which can all affect property values.

The local council

If you’re thinking about development, find out about any local council requirements or zoning regulations relating to building enhancements. Delve into the property’s own development history to make sure that there hasn’t been any work previously done without a permit. It’s also a good idea to check with the council regarding any planning permission applications or upcoming work scheduled to surrounding buildings – particularly if there’s a vacant adjacent block of land.

Extra income potential

Income potential is not only an added bonus for you… it’s also a highly attractive to potential buyers when it comes time to sell – so it’s worth considering whether there’s any potential to create a granny flat or convert an existing outhouse, which could not only boost the value of your investment, but also bring in extra income.

Doing your homework will lessen your likeliness to buy in haste and repent at leisure, and instead keep your costs (and stress levels) low and your potential for profit high.