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  • Prepare a budget
  • Save a deposit
  • Research the market
  • Understand the costs
  • Appoint a solicitor
  • Appoint a professional Alpha 1 Realty selling real estate agent
  • Get finance - Choose a home loan
  • Questions
  • Home loan facilities
  • Alternative home loan options
  • Find a home - Get a valuation
  • Buy at auction
  • Buy off the plan
  • Make an offer
  • Property inspections
  • Home and contents insurance
  • Register your land
  • Repay your mortgage

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Alpha One Realty the leader in sales and property management in Australia presents you -

Owning your own home is the great Australian dream, and here in Queensland thousands of people buy residential property each year. It is probably the most significant purchase you will make in your life, and requires a considerable amount of research, time, commitment and planning.

Prepare a budget

When you decide to save for a house, always prepare a budget. Doing a budget can help you understand your financial situation. You can download the budget planner from www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au. The budget planner helps you track your income and expenditure, list your savings goals and calculate savings. Understanding your financial health may help you see problems before they get out of control, giving you time to change your lifestyle and avoid bigger problems.

Save a deposit

If you are thinking about buying a home, start saving now. The largest initial cost of a home is the deposit, which is usually at least five per cent of the purchase price. A savings plan is great practice for paying off a mortgage. Financial institutions may also be more willing to lend you money if you have a strong savings history. When saving your deposit, shop around for the best interest rates. Make sure you understand all the conditions, fees and charges connected to your account.

Research the market

To start:

  • look at property listings at real estate agencies, on the internet and in newspapers
  • find out which properties have recently sold in the area and how much they sold for.
  • get information on upcoming developments in your area from the Department of Infrastructure and Planning website at www.dip.qld.gov.au
  • attend open house inspections to compare values and see if your expectations are realistic
  • Talk to friends or family who have recently bought a home and talk to an Alpha 1 Realty real estate agent.

The real estate market is affected by economic trends, as well as changes in the balance between housing supply and demand. Find out if:

  • The Reserve Bank is expected to change interest rates. You can check this by visiting www.rba.gov.au
  • There are more houses for sale than buyers (prices should be falling or steady), or more buyers than houses (prices will be rising).
  • The current cost of building is high or low.
  • You are eligible for any grants or concessions, such as a first home owner grant.

Understand the costs

You will have to pay a number of costs when you buy a property, as well as before and after you buy. Here are some costs you can usually expect to pay in addition to the purchase price of the home. Before you buy, expect to pay:

  • Professional valuation
  • Property and pest inspections.

When you buy, expect to pay:

  • stamp duty
  • Real estate agent fees.
  • Legal or conveyancing costs.
  • search fees.
  • Bank or mortgage fees.
  • exit fees from your existing mortgage or penalties to break your current rental agreement.
  • Home and contents insurance.
  • moving costs and utility connections.
  • Fire alarms and electrical safety switches.

After you buy, expect to pay:

  • Council rates
  • Body corporate fees.
  • Ongoing maintenance.

Appoint a solicitor

It is strongly recommended that you seek independent legal advice before you buy a property. Solicitors must carry professional indemnity insurance, which protects you if something goes wrong because of action the solicitor takes or does not take. When choosing a solicitor, shop around and compare different solicitors’ experience, services and costs. Choose a legal firm known for its conveyance skills. Make sure your solicitor is independent of any other party in the property transaction. Before you appoint a solicitor, ask them for a detailed quote for the work (i.e. conveyancing) you want done. Some solicitors may do conveyancing for a set price. Visit the Queensland Law Society website at www.qls.com.au for a list of solicitors in your area. You can ask your solicitor to perform conveyancing work such as:

  • checking the sale contract before you sign.
  • checking disclosure documents.
  • advising on the finance contract.
  • checking and explaining the results of title searches, mortgage insurance and other documentation.
  • assisting in negotiations about fixing problems identified in pre-settlement inspections.
  • handling final payment on settlement day with the seller’s representatives.
  • transferring the property title from the seller to you.

Appoint a professional Alpha 1 Realty selling real estate agent

Choosing an agent

When you buy a property, you may want to use a buyer’s agent. An agent will find suitable properties and negotiate purchases for you. They can do background checks on the property and area to make sure you pay the fairest price. An agent can also bid for you at an auction. A real estate agent cannot act for a client until appointed in writing by the client. To use an agent, you must complete PAMD Form 22a – Appointment of real estate agent (sales and purchase).This form is available at www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au The appointment documents the rights and obligations of both the agent and the client. The appointment sets out the terms for:

  • Any limitations or conditions on the agency.
  • The service(s) to be provided.
  • The amount to be paid (commission, fees and expenses) for the services.

Real estate agents must be licensed to work in Queensland. They should display their licence prominently in their office.

Get finance - Choose a home loan

A home loan is a debt you live with for many years. It is vital that you carefully research, compare and fully understand loan differences so that you can choose the best option for you. There are many types of loans with different fees, conditions and charges. Loans are best compared using their comparison rate, which includes not only the interest rate, but other fees and charges as well.

Questions

You may need to ask a lot of questions before you properly understand any home loan offered to you. Visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au for a list of questions to ask your financial institution or mortgage broker.

Home loan facilities

Many loans can be tailored to meet your needs. However, most special features come with a cost, so carefully consider exactly what you need and how it will benefit you.

Visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au to learn more about:

  • offset facilities.
  • redraw facilities.
  • Mortgage protection insurance.

Alternative home loan options

If you are having difficulty getting a standard home loan, you may need to consider other options. Remember, it is very important that you carefully evaluate any type of loan before signing. Some alternative home loan options include:

  • Non-conforming loans.
  • Low document loans.
  • Low-deposit or no-deposit loans
  • Long-term mortgages.
  • Vendor finance.
  • A reverse mortgage.

Although these loans may help you break into the property market in the short term, they often:

  • have higher interest rates.
  • have more fees or charges.
  • force you to take out additional loan insurance.
  • leave you worse off over the full term of the loan.

Visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au to learn more about alternative home loan options.

Find a home - Get a valuation

Understanding the true value of a property will help you avoid paying too much. It is important to do your own research and always use a valuer independent to the seller or their agent. Make sure that the valuer you use is registered. You can do this by checking the Valuers Registration Board website atwww.valuersboard.qld.gov.au or the Australian Property Institute website atwww.api.org.au. Visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au for a list of instructions to give your valuer and a list of what information to expect in a valuation report. There is no set fee for valuation advice. You should negotiate a fee with your chosen valuer before the valuation proceeds.

Buy at auction

You need to prepare before buying at auction. It is a good idea to go to a few auctions first to see how they work. The terms of a residential auction sale usually require the buyer to bid on an unconditional basis. The real estate agent can give you a copy of the terms and conditions before the auction date. Remember when buying at auction there is no cooling-off period. You need to view the property and do all the necessary checks before bidding. Getting an independent professional valuation is also a good idea. If you are the successful bidder at the auction, you will have to settle the contract even if the house is defective or you can’t afford it.Visitwww.fairtrading.qld.gov.au to learn more about what you need to do before the auction and on auction day.

Buy off the plan

Many developments are sold ‘off the plan’. This means the contract for the purchase of the lot is entered into before the title to the lot is created and a building is constructed.

Make an offer

Contract of sale

The contract outlines all the conditions of the sale. During the negotiations, the agent may ask you to formalize your offer by signing a contract. Real estate agents and developers in Queensland often prepare their own contracts. It is your responsibility to make sure any special conditions you agreed on with the agent are in the contract. Before signing, take a copy of the contract away and discuss it with your solicitor. Independent legal advice is especially important if your offer is dependent on conditions such as finance or the sale of another property. Once you sign the contract and it is signed by the seller, it becomes binding. A contract of sale must have a warning statement attached to the front of it. PAMD Form 30c – Warning statement is available at www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au and advises you to get an independent property valuation and seek independent legal advice. Don’t be pressured into signing a contract without seeking legal advice first. A five-day cooling-off period applies with any residential property contract, but not when buying at auction.

Property inspections

It is a good idea to do building, pest and swimming pool inspections before you start negotiations so you know exactly what condition the property is in. You will then be able to factor in any future costs when you make your offer. If you plan to undertake these property inspections after you have made your offer, make sure that any contract you sign includes terms that will allow you to cancel the contract if the property receives any unsatisfactory inspection reports. It is also important that you personally inspect the property a couple of days prior to settlement to make sure it is in the same condition it was when you signed the contract. In particular, check any items that you had specifically included in your contract. Ask your solicitor whether all other conditions of the contract have been met before settlement. Buy the home Pay the deposit when you find a property you like, you can make an offer to buy it. To formalise your offer, a contract of sale is drawn up for you to sign. The contract sets out the price you are offering for the property, details of when you will pay your deposit and details of settlement. This document only becomes a binding contract of sale once it is signed by both yourself and the seller. If the seller accepts your offer, they will sign the contract. If you haven’t already done so, you must then pay your deposit, according to the conditions set out in the contract (normally within two to three days). You have secured the property once both you and the seller have signed the contract. Both parties must honor the contract. In some cases you may be asked to pay a part deposit when you make your offer. Paying this deposit does not mean the property is yours. The property will only be taken off the market when both parties sign the contract. If your offer is not accepted, your deposit must be fully refunded. Cooling-off period Standard sales contracts for residential property have a cooling-off period of five business days. This means if you’re not totally happy, you can cancel the contract within the cooling-off period. However, residential auction sales contracts have no cooling-off period. For standard sales contracts, the five-day cooling off period starts the day you or your representative receive a copy of the contract signed by both you and the seller, providing that day is a business day. If that day is not a business day (i.e. Sunday or a public holiday) then the cooling-off period will commence on the next business day. The cooling-off period ends at 5.00 pm on the final day of the cooling-off period. If you want to cancel the contract during the cooling-off period, you must give notice to the seller or seller’s agent and deliver it before 5.00 pm on the final day. The seller must refund the deposit within 14 days of termination of the contract but may deduct a termination penalty of up to 0.25 per cent of the purchase price.

Home and contents insurance

Talk to your agent and solicitor to find out exactly when you are responsible for the insurance of the property. Generally, the purchaser will become responsible for the property as soon as the contract is signed by both parties. It’s strongly recommended you consider taking out insurance to cover the property from this date. You should also consider taking out contents insurance. If you have a mortgage, your lender will expect you to have home/building insurance. This is important even if you have paid off your home because it covers damage or loss to the building and its fixtures. If you buy into a community titles scheme, the body corporate will generally have to take out insurance to cover common property but you are responsible for insuring your own property and contents. Settlement day on settlement day, the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller in exchange for the title of the property. You then get the keys and take possession of the property, unless you have made other arrangements. A settlement date is agreed upon in the contract and is usually between 30 to 90 days after the contract is signed. The final payment is finalised by the legal and financial representatives of both parties. All other amounts, such as council rates, are adjusted between you and the seller. The seller must pay the rates up to and including the day of settlement. Your final payment for the property is paid to the seller’s conveyancing firm and placed in a trust account. You should receive a trust account receipt for this.

Register your land

Once the sale is finalized, check that the details lodged with the land registry at the Department of Environment and Resource Management is correct. You can do this via their website at www.derm.qld.gov.au.

You can ask for a Registration Confirmation Statement from the land registry or from your solicitor. The statement confirms your title has been formally recorded in the land registry. For peace of mind after settlement, you can carry out a title search to confirm the details held in the land registry. The search will show details of any mortgage, easement, caveat or other interest registered against your property title.

Repay your mortgage

Visit www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au for some practical tips on:

  • minimizing the overall cost of your loan.
  • refinancing your loan.
  • getting help.