Checklist of Questions to
Ask when Buying a Home

So you’re about to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars (sometimes more) on a home.  Probably the largest purchase in your lifetime. So it stands to reason you should put some serious research into it first.  

Below is a checklist that will help you.  

Having a good Buyers Agent on your side can help you immensely.  But you still need to do your own research and educate yourself.  Your buyers agent will be a great help to save you time, stress and money.  But at the end of the day the buck stops with you.  You are the one committing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To help you understand some of the practical questions to ask, below is a checklist.

  1. Why are you wanting to buy a new home?
  2. Do you want a family home, a renovator, a luxury apartment?
  3. Are You upgrading, downsizing or getting off the rental treadmill?
  4. What is your complete budget?
  5. Do you have a stable job?
  6. Do you have a sufficient deposit?
  7. Do you have all your finances in order and ready for scrutiny?
  8. Can you afford the extra expenses associated with a home?
    (Owning is usually more expensive than renting)
  9. Have you factored in other buying & closing costs?
    (Building & pest Pest inspections, Valuation fee, Conveyancing, Title searches, Stamp duty, Home & contents insurance)
  10. Work out what you can afford?
  11. Find a good Mortgage Broker.
  12. Have you applied for a loan and got pre-approval?
  13. How long do you want to keep the home for?
  14. Which area is right for you?
  15. Are you looking for good capital growth?
  16. Do you need to be a particular school catchment area?
  17. Do you want to be close to public transport and shops?
  18. How many bedrooms and how big do you want?
  19. Do you want a big garden and pool – Or something easier to manage?
  20. What other attributes do you want?
  21. Are you utilising a Buyers Agent to help you?
  22. Find and research a number of homes that fit your criteria.
  23. How much are similar homes selling for in the area?
  24. Have you done a report on the comparables? (Ask your buyers agent)
  25. How much did the seller pay for the home?
  26. Why are they selling?
  27. How long has it been on the market?
  28. What kind of sale is it (private treaty / auction)?
  29. What are the local schools?
  30. Are there any schools planned for the local area?
  31. What’s the nearest hospital and doctors?
  32. Where are the local shops & restaurants?
  33. How is the neighborhood – what are the demographics?
  34. What is public transport like – and how far away is it?
  35. Are there any major projects happening in the area?
  36. Is the property in a known flood zone?
  37. What is the zoning of the property?
  38. Is there potential for this zoning to change in the future?
  39. How does the council view future development?
  40. What are the property taxes?
  41. Is the neighborhood anticipating a change?
  42. What is the suburb median price? 
  43. What are the local auction clearance rates?
  44. How long has the property been on the market for?
  45. What is the average “days on the market” (DOM) in the area?
  46. Is there any property discounting happening in the area?
  47. What is the population growth forecast in the area?
  48. How old is the property?
  49. What is the average age of properties in the area?
  50. How many bedrooms / bathrooms are there? (what is the average in the area)?
  51. How many car parks are there?
  52. Can you safely park on the street?
  53. What are the monthly maintenance fees?
  54. Are there body corporate fees? How much?
  55. Is there a recent strata report on the property?
  56. What improvements would you like to do?
  57. How old are any major renovations?
  58. Is there documentation on work done to the house?
  59. Is there anything that’s NOT included in the sale of the house?
  60. Is there lead, or asbestos?
  61. Are there wiring or plumbing issues?
  62. Are there any covenants, caveats or any regulatory issues?
  63. Does the property & home match what is on the Certificate of Title?
  64. Is there a development application (DA) for the property?
  65. How old is the roof?
  66. How old are the appliances and major systems?
  67. What’s the history of past insurance claims?
  68. Has the vendor got a building and/or pest report?
  69. Exactly what is included in the sale?
  70. What fixtures and fittings are part of the sale?
  71. Has the owner purchased elsewhere?
  72. How desperate does the owner need to sell?
  73. How many owners has the property had?
  74. What price do you think the owners would accept?
  75. Have they had any offers so far?
  76. Has the property been valued by a registered valuer?
  77. Is the property currently under lease?
  78. Has anyone attempted to purchase the property and failed due to finance?
  79. How much will I pay in closing costs?
  80. Will the vendor pay or contribute to closing costs?
  81. Are you ready to move?

About Market Valuations
A market valuation is an estimation of a property’s value on the real estate market.  It will most times be higher than the Bank valuation.  It takes into account local fluctuations, location, buyer demographics, comparables and desirability.  All of which the Bank valuation doesn’t factor in.  The bank valuation is simply cold hard numbers.

A market valuation provides either a buyer or a seller an indicative price that will be paid for the property. It is designed to help you make a decision how much to buy or sell a property for.

What if there is a Large Difference?
The conservative bank valuation is what the bank uses to determine if it will lend you the money.  Even if you have a pre-approved loan, if there is a substantial discrepancy between what you have agreed to pay for the property and what the bank values it at, you may run into some difficulties.  If you cannot meet the lenders required loan to value ratio (LVR), you may not get final approval for the loan.

You can try a number of avenues – including

  • Going back to the vendor and try to renegotiate.
  • You can request a second valuation by another valuer approved by the lender.
  • It is possible to dispute the Bank valuation – This will require very solid evidence and research to prove your point. (This is not often successful)
  • You can find a way to add extra deposit to cover the shortfall in the LVR.

When buying property research is the absolute key.  In the case of market value vs. bank valuation – Proper research will reduce the likelihood of agreeing to pay substantially more than the Bank valuation and in turn having issues with final loan approval.