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5 ways to narrow your property search

Traipsing to one open-for-inspection after another is no way to spend a weekend. But for many first homebuyers, it’s a case of over-inspecting and under-researching.

Here are five ways to ensure you’re only checking out the houses that tick all your boxes.

It could save you money and give your weekends back.

1. Map it

Don’t want to buy a house on a main road? Prefer to be close, but not too close, to a train station? The answer’s simple – take a look at a map. This will serve up instant information about the street – how long it is, whether it’s a rat-run between major thoroughfares – and surrounds.

Carefully look for landmarks that may impact your enjoyment of the property such as local parks, bike paths and even the proximity to the local pub!

2. Ring ahead

Ever rocked up to an open for inspection only to be told the property is under contract or was sold the day before? To minimise the frustration, phone the listed agents before you hit the road. Ask whether the property is still for sale and the open for inspection is going ahead at the times advertised.

While you’re at it, make enquiries about the price. David Easterbrook, director at Elite Property Advisory, says some agents are happy to give you the low down.

“Call the agent for a realistic quote and then expected selling price before inspecting as some agents will tell you not to waste your time, others are not so helpful and will happily have you waste your time, money and effort on a property that would never be in your budget,” he says.

3. Study the market

Start by following sales campaigns from initial quotes to final sale prices to get a handle on how accurate the advertised price is. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some properties with prices that have been dropped. Doing your research saves time, money and disappointment.

First homebuyer Tamzyn McCormack says doing your research saves time, money and disappointment.

“Keep track of the advertised price and the sold price of a number of properties that suit your criteria,” she says.

“This will give you a realistic idea of what the agent actually wants and will save you the heartache of rejected offers.”

4. Comprise where you can

Know your non-negotiables and don’t give in. But there may be some property features you just need to look at in a different light.

“Look for the compromises that can be improved,” Easterbook says.

“Kitchens and bathrooms can be renovated at a later date, carpet can be changed, lighting can be installed and painting can be done yourself.”

5. Know your budget

Every house-hunter needs to know and more importantly, stick to, their budget. There’s no point inspecting a property $100,000 above your budget. Best to take a reality check.

“When we first started looking we felt disheartened after inspecting a number of properties that we loved, but sold for way above our budget,” McCormack says. “We quickly learned to be more realistic and flexible.

We understood that our first home probably wasn’t going on be on a full block in the perfect suburb, and we made a few compromises.”