Six steps to nailing your next open home
Planning to attend a few open homes this weekend? House hunting is an exciting time – approached with the right spirit, it can be a fun, thrilling experience, and most importantly, it means your journey to home ownership is getting ‘serious’.
So put on your most comfortable shoes, fill up the tank and prepare for a ride like no other. Here are some tips to make the most of each viewing – and ultimately find ‘The One’.
Plan your time
If you’re looking for the right place, you’ll probably have multiple home viewings to attend to, and often in different locations at the same time. It’s a good idea to be strategic: if possible, prioritise open homes that are in the same area, and make sure you take into account travel times.
Also, open homes last about 30 minutes; try to be early so that you don’t have to rush to see everything. And if you’re unable to attend a viewing on Saturday, check if the same property is open on Sunday as well.
Bring a friend
The lead-up process to choosing your first home can be quite emotional, so consider having an extra pair of eyes to help along. A friend or family member may give you the perspective you need to make a rational decision, especially if they’ve gone through the buying process themselves. In general, it can be helpful to have someone to discuss the property with (they might even see something that you’ve overlooked!).
Make a list of your must-haves
What are you looking for in your first home? What things are non-negotiable and what can you compromise on?
Listing photos are great to get a first impression, but they don’t tell the whole story. That’s why it’s crucial to take the time to walk through the property. You may find that the spare room is too small for a home office, or that neighbouring properties are closer than you first thought – too close for your privacy and comfort.
Bring your must-have list with you and see how many items you can tick off.
Check the house inside and out
Getting a building report is always a good idea – after all, buying a home is a big financial commitment, and you want to make sure that the property is healthy and there are no hidden issues to fix. However, before even calling your builder, there are a few things you can spot at the viewing.
Click here to download a handy checklist from Settled.govt.nz, print it out and take it with you. It may help you understand where to look and ask the right questions to the agent. What about storage space, for example? Is the property noisy or quiet? Does it have a lingering smell of mould? And what about the layout – will your furniture fit?
You can also use this Property Checker to highlight any areas that might need further investigation (e.g. depending on the age of the property or the materials used).
Curb your enthusiasm
It can be difficult to control your excitement and emotions, particularly when a property seems to tick all the boxes. But try to keep a cool mind during your viewing.
Buying a house is not a decision to be taken lightly, in the spur of the moment. There’s a lot to think about, including finance approval, and there can always be hidden issues to discover. Also, other buyers may be inspecting the house at the same time, and competing for it; so it’s a good idea to discuss your thoughts privately, outside.
Make sure you ask the real estate agent a lot of questions. This is your chance to learn as much as possible about the property, and although agents work for the vendor, they’re legally obliged to disclose any known ‘faults’ with the property.
Lastly, mind your own words. You don’t want to look too keen to buy or lay all your cards on the table. Focus on getting everything in order (your mortgage approval, the building report, LIM report etc.), to maximise your negotiation power.
Drive around the neighbourhood
If you’re not familiar with the area, make sure you drive around the neighbourhood at different times of day and at the weekend. Check what facilities are available, what the traffic looks like, and if there any planned developments coming up.
Here’s another helpful checklist to help you research the property, including key council documents and reports you’ll need, problematic building materials, and any natural hazards that may affect the site.
Looking for a mortgage?
We can help. Please contact us at Wellington Mortgage Brokers 0800 000 518 to get the conversation started as soon as possible. When looking for a home, it’s important to know what your budget is and what lenders are likely to allow you to borrow. We can help you run the numbers and talk you through your mortgage options.