The Bulletin

Try before you buy

If you’re thinking about buying a home, it’s likely that you have a dream suburb in mind.

But if it’s not where you currently live, familiarising yourself with the area before buying can help prevent an expensive mistake. Renting in this location is a sure fire why to ‘try before you buy’ while discovering the good and less appealing aspects of the area.

How renting can help house hunters
Whether you’re a local, interstate or out-of-town house-hunter this approach will allow you to become intimately acquainted with your chosen area.

Exploring the area as a local allows more time to get a feel for the character of a suburb, which can be very different on a Saturday morning to a weekday. For example a quiet suburban street on a weekend could be a peak-hour rat-run on a week night, and what looked like a dream commute online could actually be a stressful journey you might regret being locked into. For families, this time will also allow you to find the right school for your children and settle in to a routine.

When should you start the search?
If buying property is even remotely on your radar, it’s worth thinking about where you want to live in several years’ time, and whether it will still be realistic option if the market moves.

Aiming for a more affordable area can allow buyers to enter the market earlier, and if rents there are lower than in your current suburb, it could make saving up a deposit easier.

What if you are ready to buy now?
If renting first isn’t viable, then take some time out of your standard week to explore the suburb before committing to a home.

Learn where the local schools, shops and eateries are, spend time staking out the neighbourhood and even sit in your car in the street to see how much traffic goes by at peak hour. It’s also worthwhile heading to Homely.com.au to check out reviews from local residents on the pros and cons of the area.

How to tell if a suburb suits you
Public transport – Are you reliant on just the train to get to work, or are there bus or tram options as well? Are services reliable or overcrowded during peak hour?

Traffic – Take note of traffic at different times of the day, especially on roads you will be likely to use on a daily basis. Look out for bottlenecks as well as neighbourhoods that avoid the worst of the peak hour rush.

Parking – Don’t just look at the residential streets you have in mind. Investigate the parking situation at the local shops, train station, parks and schools, and how parking could be affected by any new developments.

Education – Do the primary and secondary schools meet your needs? Are there affordable childcare options or are the waiting lists too long?

Shopping and nightlife – Is the range wide enough to suit your needs, or will you need to travel to do the weekly shop? Are the local bars and restaurants your scene?

Community – Get to know your neighbours. Can you see yourself becoming a part of the local community? How far away are friends and family?

Micro-markets – Explore the different areas in the suburb to identify which streets are most desirable, best value, or the ones to avoid.

Other amenities – Don’t forget to take note of parks, healthcare, places of worship, broadband and mobile reception.

With so much to consider, it’s no wonder more people are opting to ‘Try before they buy’.

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