We’ve probably all heard stories about the young couple who spent years looking for that perfect property that fit their budget.
Some of these stories may have a happy ending, and some not.
So just how long should you look for a property?
These days, research is part and parcel with buying a property. It’s the added edge you need to help make a decision when the time comes.
Once you have a clear idea of how the area you’re interested in is performing and its key demographics, get out there. Check out the area in person and at different times of the day to see if it is somewhere you would actually like to live.
It’s all too easy to use more and more data as a safety net but in reality, a monthly check in on the market trends should be more than enough to keep you up to date after your initial research is complete.
Getting too hung up on data could lead to you missing out on a great property opportunity in the long run and keep you researching for months to come.
The time frame you’ll need to complete enough research on your area of interest will largely depend upon your understanding and experience with looking at real estate data.
Don’t despair if you’re a beginner; there are many resources available to get you up to speed. It may just take you an extra week or so to become comfortable with the information you’re looking at than it would someone who already knows it.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t spend more than three months (a season) researching or you may find that you’re in a research rut.
Your wish list
Having a wish list of what you’re looking for in a property will help you to refine your property goals. You should break your list into negotiables and non-negotiables.
Just be sure that your non-negotiables are realistic to have in the one house and aim for things that can’t easily be changed or added.
For instance, a swimming pool can be added in at a later date but a fourth bedroom may prove to be more difficult.
Your wish list is all about making sure that your property hunt doesn’t get clouded with other things when you’re out at open homes.
It’s also important to do a sense check of your wish list as part of your research. Do the properties in the area you’re looking at typically have five bedrooms and a study or are they more three-bedroom homes? Do the items on your wish list push any suitable properties out of your budget?
Incorporating such specific details into your research early on can help you keep your property hunting timeline down to a minimum as you’ll know which areas have more properties with the features you want and can afford.
Inspecting short list
Although you may feel that the more properties you see, the greater clarity you’ll gain about what you want from your home, the reality is often that your wish list will become clouded as you see more and more options of things you might want.
You should aim to be more particular about the properties you choose to inspect. And while no property is likely to match up with all of the items on your wish list, you should start your search by viewing only those that meet a minimum requirement of non-negotiable wish list items.
Use local knowledge
Beyond the numbers, there are those with local knowledge who can help you with some insight into your chosen area.
Talk to local agents about whether any streets have public housing, which properties are attracting high numbers at open homes and any future development coming to the area. This information will help you understand the prices you’re seeing, the competition for property in the area and what’s in store for the suburb.
Don’t forget to take a look at local blogs and community groups. You’ll get a feel for the kind of people in the neighbourhood, community events and often overall crime levels.
If you find that you’ve been actively looking for a property for more than three to five months, take a step back and re-evaluate.
Take a long look at your wish list versus your budget and the prices in your neighbourhood of choice.
Speak to a local agent about what’s going on in the neighbourhood; are there just not many properties on the market currently, and what time of year is typically best to see more properties on the market for that area?
Your dream home may be just around the corner but it’s important to do a sense check on a regular basis before you get frustrated by the hunt. It will bring you back in line with your non-negotiable wish list and help you understand where things may have gotten off track.