Buying a home is a major decision and a first home is one of the most significant purchases most people ever make. It's an exciting time which can also be rather overwhelming. Your search for the perfect home can be made easier with the support of a reputable real estate agent.

Before you begin your home hunting it is important to decide:

  • The area you want to live in
  • What kind of place you are after – apartment, house, duplex etc
  • What are the absolute essentials the home must have
  • What features you are prepared to compromise on
  • Are school locations an important feature?
  • Is a garage, garden, basement essential?
  • Does there need to be room for growth?
  • Your budget – remember there are other costs beside the purchase price

Once you have your needs clearly identified, it is time to start looking for a reputable realtor to help you secure your ideal home.

Real Estate Search

Today, the search for property is made really easy through the use of online real estate sites including or where you can browse a swag of listings complete with photographs to help narrow down your search. From the comfort of your lounge room you can surf the internet and browse listings in your own suburb right through to locations on the opposite side of the world.

Many real estate agents also have brochures to hand out, and if you drop by their offices, they will usually be very happy to explain listings and may even suggest new properties not yet listed, but about to come onto the market.

Find a Realtor

The most common way of finding a realtor is either through word of mouth, personal recommendations or and which offer the capacity for you to search for a qualified real estate agent in your area of interest. When you think you may have found a realtor you like, remember to go over your requirements checklist with them. A good realtor will often offer suggestions about items you may not have even considered. Finally, it is important to remember to read all contracts with terms of engagement very carefully. A realtor does not usually get paid until a property deal is closed.

Choosing a Real Estate Agent

Deciding on a realtor is very much a personal decision, but it is made much easier if you have a clear idea of your requirements. Realtors tend to specialise in niches of the marketplace; some work at the high end of the market whilst others specialise in first home buyers. Similarly, they also tend to specialise in neighbourhoods.

Ask your realtor questions about how long they have been in business, check out testimonials and recommendations. Show them a list of your home hunting requirements and gauge how well they answer all your queries. You should be totally satisfied they were up front out their capacity to fulfil your requirement before engaging their services.

Although you may not have all the answers now, it's important you choose a real estate agent that understands your property needs, and can be sure to fulfill as many of your requests as possible while perusing the realty listings on your behalf.

Types of Properties

Regardless of whether you're seekingan investment property, to buy land, a building, a block of apartments or just to buy a house, there is a sea of options that can make the task seem daunting. However, the secret is to take time to search for something that fits your budget and fulfils your needs.

Purchasing Land

Investing in land is a great way to start a career in real estate investment. Buying in the right location is key, and something purchased at the right price and sold as prices increase, is a great way to kick off your portfolio.

If you're planning your dream home, a good option could be to purchase land and then build to your own specifications. This will ensure you get exactly what you envisioned.

Generally speaking, the following applies to land purchases:

  • The further away from the city, the cheaper the price
  • Hazardous terrain may be a problem in areas that are less developed
  • Isolated and underdeveloped locations can have issues with utilities and services such as Internet, television and telephone reception.
Buying Lots and Buildings

Investing in a lot or buildings can be a pretty good way investment or a way to start your own business. Online services like and feature lots and building that are up for sale.

Prices will vary enormously from location to location and can be influenced by the labour market, transport corridors and general socioeconomic situation in any given area. It's important to check out all aspects where something looks like a great bargain, especially if it's been on the market for a long time.

Buying Foreclosed Homes

A foreclosure is a really unfortunate circumstance, but these kind of properties are frequently real bargains and there is often an opportunity to make a great profit.

Foreclose properties tend to come up for sale either through a real estate agent or a public auction and require the purchaser to provide evidence of finance before accepting an offer. There is generally no room for negotiation on the price and properties are sold on an 'ás is' basis. What this means is that careful research needs to be done before the sale. Sometimes there are unfinished or faulty parts of the property which may need expensive repairs. Once you purchase the property you have no recourse, so do all your homework well in advance to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Buying a Short Sale Home

Short sale homes mean the seller is attempting to avoid foreclosure with the lender, as they are behind on their mortgage. The lender is usually a financial institution, and willing to accept less than the amount owed on the mortgage simply to clear the property from their books.

A real estate agent can help you find a short sale home and the procedure for sale is the same as for any other home where you put in an offer. Similar to the foreclosure sales, these properties are usually sold on an 'ás is' basis so you need to be sure there are no major repairs required, or if there are, that these are considered when you make your offer.

Buying a short sale home is a great way to buy a home at below-market value price, but it can take quite some time as the sellers (financial institutions) do not always make a swift decision.

Mortgages and Financing

Mortgages and finance are accessed by the vast majority of the population to purchase homes and property. It is important to know what kind of loan will be suit your needs and consider the features offered. This type of loan features variable interest rates depending on which type of mortgage you choose.

The two main types of mortgages are:

  • Fixed-rate mortgage
  • Adjustable-rate mortgage

Fixed-Rate Mortgage: This is where the interest rate you pay remains the same for the life of the loan. Payments are divided into equal monthly payments for the life of the mortgage.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgage: this is, just as its name suggests, an adjustable-rate mortgage. The interest rate paid on the outstanding balance varies according to specific benchmarks which are set out in your loan contract.

The interest rate will usually be based on a benchmark plus an additional spread, called an ARM margin.

Most mortgages usually come in 30 year forms, and depending on how you choose to may repayments, the bulk other the first few years is spent paying off the interest. Make sure youhave your mortgage broker clearly explain the terms and how making extra payments can reduce your interest and term of the loan. These days there are online mortgage calculators on most real estate sites as well as on lenders sites. You can have a play around with them, and you might be surprized at how much different an extra small payment can make to the terms of your loan.

Renovating a Home: A renovations can large or small. It can range from a new kitchen or bathroom, through to a complete gutting of the existing home interior and building extra rooms.

A renovation offers a great way opportunity to customize and building your dream home, but it's important to remember that when renovating things can get very expensive. It's therefore very important to carefully budget for all aspects and also consider what else may need to be replaced once you start renovating e.g. starting on a bathroom could mean discovering potential plumbing problems which you had not expected.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is absolutely essential as it provides invaluable protection for your home and belonging in the event they are damaged or stolen. It also offers liability protection. What this means is if someone gets injured on your property or a property sustains any damage, the insurance will cover costs.

Insurance is a complex matter and there are many different types of home insurance to suit different levels of customers and properties. The best course of action is to make an appointment with a reputable insurance broker who can provide advice suited to your particular circumstances. As with real estate agents, brokers do not make money unless you take out a policy with them.

What does Homeowners insurance cover?

Homeowner insurance coverage does vary from policy to policy, but as a general guide, it covers personal property, including vandalism and loss through theft, damage as a result of fire and storms. There is also the option of homeowners insurance for floods, earthquakes or hurricanes.

Costs of insurance depend on several factors including location, materials used to build the home, size, age and a myriad of other factors. It is a good idea to take the time to compare homeowners insurance quotes from companies like Progressive and Geicoto ensure you have the best policy for your needs.

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing your Realtor

Choosing the right realtor is a challenge and we've provided this handy list of open questions to help you get your realtor chatting which will help you decide who the best fit for your needs.

  1. Tell me why you chose a career in real estate?
  2. Tell me about your strategy for selling homes?
  3. Please explain your fees and charges and any other costs you think I need to be aware of.
  4. What's your favourite part of being a realtor?
  5. Tell me about how we would communicate if I choose you as my realtor
  6. How do you think I should set up for an open house?
Do I need a real estate to rent out my home?

No, you can rent it out yourself. However, a real estate agent is a professional with experience that can make the rental experience stress free as a good agent will advertise, do background checks and arrange the lease for you.

I am thinking of investing in real estate, what is the best option?

A long term rental apartment can be a good investment as once the tenant and lease are in place there is very little work involved, especially if you use a real estate agency to manage the rental.

What kind of insurance do I need as a renter?

If you are renting it is prudent to take out rental insurance as this will protect your belongings and provide peace of mind. Some landlords may also require you to take out this kind of insurance.

Can my landlord access my rental property at any time?

A landlord can only enter the property without notice for emergency repairs. Your lease will contain the terms of notice they need to provide. This is normally either 24 or 48 hours.