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House-hunting checklist

By Georgina Mann

Finding houses to buy or rent is easy. Finding the perfect house to buy or rent that suits the specific wants and needs of everyone who’ll live in it is the real challenge.

But there are a number of ways to ensure that your house-hunting journey ends with a property that everyone can be happy with

Communication & compromise

It seems simple, but if no one is willing to budge on certain details of their dream home, you’ll still be searching for a place to live when the rest of us are driving electric cars and having robots do our gardening.

All too often couples, families and renters treaded water while trying to find the perfect property because they wouldn’t give any ground.

“They’re both looking for different things and often what they’re looking for and what they need they haven’t even considered,” Hatt says.

“It’s just through communication that you work out where the most important things are. We had a house we bought last year and the husband was so specific on the address in terms of proximity to the station and things that he didn’t really care whether the house was falling down around him.

“And then the wife has got a small child and another one on the way and the functionality of the house was far more important for her. In the end we actually found something that worked for both in an area they hadn’t really considered.”

Get the inside word

Register with local agents who can give you an instant heads up when a suitable property crosses their desk.

Nelson Alexander real estate agent James Pilliner says receiving a tip-off from a local agent was a huge advantage.

“They can tell you about things that trade off-market, which is probably roughly 10% of the sales. If you’re not registered with an agent you never have any clue about that,” he says.

Relocate your perfect location

In the current property climate, getting everything you want from a house in the location you want it is an increasingly challenging proposition. Add in your partner or future housemate’s ideas on where the perfect place might be and you’ve got a one-way ticket to a giant real estate roadblock.

Be open to surrounding suburbs to widen your property search.

So consider a more affordable suburb nearby, or one where you’re more likely to get what you want for your hard-earned dollar.

“Sometimes people think they know where they want to be but they could actually be in other areas that would work better,” Hatt said. “Other times they focus on something so much and it’s not what they can afford and they’re never going to get quite what they want, when the next suburb out can give them a much better outcome.

Get alerts & get in first

Getting in first is often the difference between snaring and missing out on a house that’s just right for you.

“If you can find properties that owners are willing to sell prior or that are private sales, you can be the first in to view it and the first to buy it. We’ve sold half a dozen properties this side of Christmas where they’ve been a private sale and they’ve sold within probably a week of being marketed and that’s because those buyers are onto it quicker than everyone else,” Pilliner says.

Size isn’t everything

Can you live without land? If a huge block is something you or your co-inhabitants are prepared to sacrifice, your options will open right up.

And your bank account will thank you for it.

“If you’re talking inner-city real estate, it’s land size that you’re compromising on,” Milliner said. “Your perfect house might have a 250 metre allotment, but you might end up having to look at something that’s 170 to 190 metres in size because it’s drastically going to reduce the price.”

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