Six questions home buyers should ask themselves to help focus their property search

Every home buyer is unique and has different priorities when it comes to finding their dream home. It can be near impossible to find a property that ticks all of your boxes. It’s also easy to get distracted by a beautifully-styled home, an incredible view or proximity to your favourite cafe.

So, how can we stay focused on the core elements of a property and neighbourhood that can’t be easily changed but will have an enduring impact on the life we’ll be able to lead after we move in?

Questions buyers should ask themselves to help determine their lifestyle priorities before they buy.

1. What mortgage repayments can I comfortably afford?

Everyone wants a more expensive property than their budget allows. To avoid budget blow-out,  determine your absolute maximum-stretch and what your preferred budget is. You also need to look at the resources available if you were to lose your job or ability to earn an income. If you don’t have other sources of income such as shares it is wiser not to go to the maximum-stretch but instead stick within your preferred budget and aim to have money left over.

2. Do I want a house, a townhouse or an apartment?

Some buyers want a large block of land for their kids to play on, but they also want to be within walking distance of a train station. The reality is that the closer you get to the station, the smaller the blocks are in most suburbs. Other buyers are prepared to trade a free-standing house for an apartment when they realise they can get access to great amenities like a pool, gym and communal gardens.

Some buyers are focused on finding an inner-city apartment to be close to bars and restaurants

It is critical to consider whether the property you’re buying is a short or long-term proposition because if you’re a young couple looking at apartments and you don’t want to move once kids come along, you’ll need to think beyond the requirements of two working adults.

3. How do I spend my free time?

If you spend most of your free time curled up on the couch with a book, that couch can be in a home located almost anywhere, however if you are a gym junkie, a foodie or a parent of active young kids, you’ll probably be looking for nearby amenities to make your weekends more relaxing.

The trick is to figure out where you spend most of your free time. Is it at the park? The local cafe, gym or aquatic centre? Exploring bush trails? Playing golf? Visiting art galleries and museums? Will the kids need soccer or netball clubs, karate or dance classes?

Some of us need space for hobbies at home; others make good use of local facilities. Make a list of your must-haves and use it to narrow down your preferred location.

4. Do I need to be close to schools, work or public transport?

A short commute to school or work comes down to two main factors: access to public transport and the distance you live from school and work hubs.

If you have school-aged kids, you can’t have a conversation about where to live without mentioning school zones. The catchment area of your preferred school will form the boundaries for your property search.

5. Do I need to be close to my network of family and friends?

Does the family help with your child care? Or are you keen to be within walking distance of your walking buddy or your elderly father-in-law?. 

If your whole support network is there, especially if you’re a young family, the support that community can offer is so important. The more disconnected you are from your community, the harder it is to get those benefits.

One thing people do get attracted to is a sense of a community. We’re social beings; we want to feel like we’re part of something, even if it’s just when we’re out buying a coffee.

6. Is convenience the key?

You can not overestimate what convenience will mean for your day-to-day life. We don’t really focus on that, but people do want to be close to work, school, 

I think that there is a concept that people have in their mind of what they should be looking for because everybody wants these attributes in their house, but when we look at their lifestyle, they don’t really need all of those things.