You may have just finished an open home inspection and believe you have found the perfect property- whether it be your new family home, or for an investment. But, there are many things to take into consideration before buying a property than just what the property looks like.
Buying property is likely to be one of the biggest and most expensive decisions you’re likely to make in your lifetime but if you don’t do it right, it can end up costing you a tonne both monetarily and emotionally.
Here, we highlight the top 3 questions you need to ask before you commit to a property purchase that many buyers do not completely understand or don’t usually take into consideration- because there are a lot more important things than the colour of the walls!
Does this property have any major risks?
Before purchasing a property, it is important to understand whether the property lies in a bush fire zone, a flood prone zone, or any other high-risk area.
It won’t be a surprise that it is becoming increasingly more common to come across bushfire prone property which may be primarily due to new housing developments being established in forested areas. You can check whether a property is in a bushfire prone zone on the section 10.7 certificate.
For bush fire zones, there are specific requirements that the property will need to meet including specific construction requirements if you are planning on doing any development or renovations, and if the works are permissible it may be costlier to ensure you meet the requirements.
In regard to borrowing, some lenders may not lend on high bush fire prone properties; however, some lenders are more flexible than others.
In addition, you may find that this classification will mean that your insurance premiums will be more expensive due to the higher risk your property carries against bush fires. This is an outgoing cost that you will need to factor into your family budget, or if it is an investment property you will need to assess the impact of this additional cost on your bottom line.
Similarly, you should check whether the property is in a flood prone area. Flooding in the area may be minor, moderate or major, depending on the climate and the region.
As the recent floods across NSW and QLD have demonstrated, unfortunately many types of floods are not covered by your property insurance, or in order to gain appropriate flood protection, the premiums can be very expensive if it is identified that your property is in a flood prone zone.
Also, the fact that the property is susceptible to damage through flooding means that there is an increased risk involved for the lender. Many lenders will look to the flood risk factor to determine whether that will approve a loan secured by a high-risk property.
If you’re planning on developing or renovating, the local council may not approve your plans or have additional hoops for you to jump through in order to approve your development application which will come at an additional cost to you.
What are the crime rates in the area?
It is important when buying a property that you understand the surrounding neighbourhood that you’re going to live or invest in.
Crime rates will certainly fluctuate significantly between suburbs, with the most likely crimes to be in relation to malicious damage like property damage, break ins and drug offences.
Buying a property in an area with a high crime rate could end up costing you in the long term in repairs or insurance whether you are going to be living in the property, or using it as an investment property. Tenants in your property would be willing to pay more to live in an area that they feel safe which will improve your cash flow and returns on the property. Buying a property in a high crime rate area could also impact the future value of your property when it comes to selling the property as owner occupiers who will pay the higher purchase price want to live in a safe neighbourhood.
The crime statistics you should look out for are- break and enter, motor vehicle theft, malicious damage to residential property, juvenile crime intent, drug trafficking.
You can locate some of this information on the free NSW Crime Tool (http://crimetool.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/bocsar/).