Planning to buy property

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Know what you want and can afford

Make a list of:

  • your preferred areas
  • essential features
  • your wish list of non-essential features.

Knowing what you want will help you avoid buying a property that does not meet your needs.

Budget before you buy property

Carefully assess your financial situation and desired standard of living when deciding how much you can afford to borrow and repay.

Take into account: 

  • your circumstances and financial commitments
  • any future plans; for example, starting a family could mean a drop in income
  • other possible changes, such as interest rate rises or unemployment.

Consider the costs of buying a property, including:

  • legal and conveyancing fees
  • loan establishment fees
  • government charges such as stamp duty and the goods and services tax (GST)
  • building and pest inspection fees
  • moving costs.

Also consider ongoing costs of property ownership, including:

  • insurance (building and contents) if applicable
  • property rates and taxes.

Don’t overlook any concessions you may be eligible for, such as:

  • first home owners grants for buyers of new homes
  • land transfer duty reduction. 

When getting a home loan (or mortgage):

  • you do not have to take the full amount offered by the lender. Instead, work out the amount you need and feel comfortable borrowing
  • use loan simulators to see how the amount borrowed, the loan period and the frequency of repayments affect the time you will need to pay off the debt
  • ask questions about fees and charges
  • study the fine print on contracts, brochures and printed material
  • be wary of financial advice or referrals from mortgage brokers.

It is illegal for estate agents to give financial advice.

You can find budget tools and information about home loans and mortgages on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s consumer website - MoneySmart.

Get informed about the property market

Learn as much as possible about every aspect of the property buying and selling process, and the products and services offered by:

  • estate agents
  • legal practitioners
  • conveyancers
  • lenders.

Shop around and compare products and services.

Research the market value of property in your preferred areas by:

  • searching the internet – view our Property data page  
  • attending auctions
  • speaking with agents
  • reading newspapers for auction results.

Do not rush into buying property

Never rush or be pressured into making hasty decisions.

Make sure you are committing to the right property for you.

You will feel more confident about your investment if you make an informed decision.

Read property and loan contracts before you sign

You may come across different types of contracts, including loan contracts and contracts of sale.

Read and understand the document before you sign. Make sure you understand all terms, conditions and fine print.

Ask for any verbal agreement in writing, so you know exactly what you are committing to.

If something is unclear, ask for an explanation. If you are still uncertain, seek independent advice before signing.

Keep a copy of all documents you have signed.

Negotiate price and other property matters

Many terms and conditions with sellers, agents, lenders, legal practitioners and conveyancers are negotiable.

Consider sustainable property features

There is a 6-star energy efficiency environmental standard for all new homes, and for renovations, additions and relocations of existing homes.

New homes must have:

  • 6-star energy rating for the building fabric including the roof, walls, floor and windows
  • 6-star energy rating for fixed lighting but not plug-in appliances
  • a rainwater tank for toilet-flushing or a solar hot water system.

Renovations, additions and relocations must have a 6-star energy rating for the building fabric, but do not require a rainwater tank or a solar hot water system. If a renovation or addition is more than half the volume of an existing house, the whole building needs to be upgraded to a 6-star standard.

For new apartments, the average is a 6-star energy rating for the whole block with a minimum of 5-star for individual apartments.

When buying an established home, consider the benefits of sustainable features that can reduce running costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and add to the value of a property.

For information about the energy efficiency features to look for in a home, visit the 6 Star Standard page on the Victorian Building Authority website.

Last updated: 15/03/2014

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