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What features make one house better than another? Discover what to look for in the right house and how to avoid some of the common pitfalls of purchasing.

The right home
You have loan approval and an idea of where you want to live. You’ve made a list of your needs and wants in a house, and have begun to study the property market in the areas you like. When you do inspect a house, take a big notepad with you and write down everything about the house you like and dislike. It may be helpful to prepare a checklist of criteria beforehand so that you can more easily compare the properties you view. Some of the things to consider will include:

The investment perspective: Will it continue to increase in value, will it require high maintenance costs, does it have potential for improvements to suit your future needs? Is the location an improving area with good access to town centres or is it becoming rundown and neglected?

Your family’s lifestyle: If you are looking to buy in an area that is some distance from where you currently live, is public transport still readily available and how will the location effect traveling times to work or school? Are there any local shops within walking distance or a short drive away?

The position and situation: If you are buying a house with a view, what are the rules to protect it from being built out? If you are looking at closely built units or houses, will you have sufficient privacy from your neighbours, both physically and in terms of sound carrying over into your house?

The aspect and block: Will your house capture the sun in winter? North and North-East facing houses usually give better energy efficiency. Is the house situated on a sloping block and will this limit its use? Does the block lend itself to becoming a suitable play space for children or pets?

Access and parking: If you are unsteady on your feet or have small children who need to be carried from house to car and vise versa, how will you cope with a flight of steps or a steep climb? If you do not have private parking, will it be a challenge to find a park on the street?

Special features: Does the house offer any special features such as a pleasant view, delightful interior, charming courtyard or unique design? A house that stands out in some way from the rest may give it the edge over other houses on offer and is likely to have better resell value if the feature is an integral part of the house.

Renovations/Redecoration: If any work is needed on the house, either to match your tastes or suit your lifestyle, how much will this add on to the purchase price? Would you be better looking for something more closely suited to your needs given the added cost and inconvenience of taking on the projects in question?

Helpful tips and wise cautions
When it comes to house hunting, being prepared with a good knowledge of the property market and knowing your priorities are two of your best weapons. However, even for the more experienced buyer, choosing the right property is rarely a level headed decision because it is hard not to feel emotionally involved. Albeit, with a little common sense, forward thinking, and some sound advice, the would-be homebuyer can be confident that their final decision is the right one.

Who is buying the property? When you go to see a house, always take whoever else who is involved in the purchase. It may be tempting to split up with the reasoning that you can see more properties in less time, however if you have an idea that the property may be suitable, make the effort to see it with your spouse or partner. By going together you can both get a feel for the place and if you like it, you will be in the position to put in an offer straight away. If only one of you attends the initial inspection, not only will you have to arrange a second viewing for your partner if you are interested (during which time someone else’s offer may be accepted), but the selling agent may not see you as a serious contender if they realise only one of the buying party is present.

Don’t assume that taking a friend or relative to see a property is a suitable substitute as their opinion – while important to you – may be distracting and will not hold to the same priorities as yours.