Finding a “forever home” in the hotly contested real estate market is no easy feat. Prospective buyers are faced with stiff competition, a seemingly endless parade of “expert” advice, plus the added pressure of today’s ever-increasing prices.
A forever home is property that will serve your family for the decades to come – potentially from your child’s first steps right through to retirement. With that in mind, agents say the most important consideration is to find a property with a flexible floor plan capable of adapting over time.
“To establish where you wish to live or the suitability of a potential purchase, park the car in the street on weekdays, the weekend and early evening to ascertain the street activity, the demographic of the area, and the noise or lack of noise,” advises Greg Fathers from Bendigo’s Priority1 Property.
He also recommends people knock on neighbours’ doors and ask about the area, and ensure it ticks all the boxes for your family – does it have established gardens, a shed big enough for your cars and possessions, and good fencing to keep in your pets?
This is understandable, but agents say the likelihood of finding something that meets every criterion is near impossible. There is a distinction between a “dream home” and a “forever home” and it is unlikely the former already magically exists within your ideal budget.
If you’re searching for more than 12 months, it is possible your expectations are too high.
If it is a toss-up between location and accommodation, compromise on the latter. “Consider buying a home that has the potential to be adapted as your family grows,” says Greg. “It can be a fruitless search to find a perfect home in the price bracket you can afford – perhaps compromise and build a bigger shed after you have settled in. Know your strengths, (be it) landscaping, painting, or decorating, and focus on the areas you can do well and make the home your own with improvements in you, or your best mate’s, field of expertise.”
To avoid experiencing buyer’s remorse down the track, senior sales consultant at Kay & Burton, Rebecca Edwards, advises clients to break down their wishlist into two categories – wants and needs – with the aim of finding a balance between the two.
“When signing the contract, the goal should be to tick seven out of 10 boxes with the knowledge that you can check off another two with some changes or improvements to the home over time,” she says.
“A good local agent will advise you about the area, but you need to experience the ‘vibe’ yourself,” adds Greg. “Do your online research by all means, but visiting the site is the wisest way to ensure you purchase will be everything you have dreamed about.”