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Deciding what you want

You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you know what you’re looking for, before you look!

There are two main considerations you need to think about when deciding what you are looking for in a property:

1) Location

You’ve heard it before – but why exactly is finding the right location so important?

When buying a home, it's important to make sure the money you’re investing has the best chance of growing over the years. A good location can help.

When deciding where it is you’d like to live, chances are you’ll be trying to reach a balance between financial and lifestyle factors, as well as thinking about how these may change in the future.

How to find the best areas to buy in:

  • Talk to family and friends about the areas they live in
  • Look for areas where houses are selling well and prices are rising
  • Look for an area with good facilities, such as transport, shops, schools, cafes, sporting venues and entertainment
  • Also look for areas that are attractive – with views, established gardens, lots of trees, or attractive homes for instance
  • In older areas, look for locations where you can see places are being renovated and facilities look cared for
  • In newer areas, look for locations where there’s a variety of home designs – and effort going into planting and landscaping
  • Remember, most people like sun, shelter, privacy, views and flat land – areas that offer all this usually sell well!
  • Areas with natural advantages such as parks and beaches

Why buy the worst house in the best street?

Being in a good area rubs off on the value of your house. Then, you may make a further gain by improving your property to match others in the area. Before you go ahead though, have a good think about whether you’ll have the time or money to renovate. If not, it may be better to look for a place that doesn’t need much work.

What’s important to you about where you live?

Where you choose to live affects your lifestyle and your finances. For instance, living by the beach can be a wonderful lifestyle choice, but you may need to think about the time and cost of commuting to work. Or you might have other factors to think about, like choosing somewhere close to family, near town… the list goes on! Try looking at lots of houses in different areas to get a feel for what you like, and can afford.

Here are some helpful things to consider when it comes to location and lifestyle:

  • How close do you want to be to work, family and friends?
  • Are you prepared to commute – and what will it cost?
  • Do you like quiet or prefer to be in the heart of the action?
  • If you have a family, what services will you need nearby?
  • What schools are in your zone, and are they the type of schools you’d like to send your kids to?
  • Are you planning to run a business from home – will the zoning allow it and what support services will you need?
  • What sport and recreation facilities do you want near where you live?
  • Do you like old or new homes? Newer homes are generally in areas further out.
  • How much time and money will maintenance on the property be?

What could the area be like in the future?

While you’re investigating different areas you might like to live in, don’t forget to think ahead. What will the area be like in the future? You want to be sure it’ll still be a nice place to live down the track.


It’s a good idea to check the zoning for the area you’re looking at with your local authority, especially around towns and cities. Zoning allows and restricts activities that can happen in an area, such as running factories or businesses. Ask if there are any changes planned – an area may seem quiet now, but if it’s zoned commercial you could find yourself surrounded by businesses later on.

2) What type of home do I want?

There’s no doubt you already know some of the features you want in a home. Perhaps a house that’s cosy, or with lots of natural light, or just somewhere that’s great for the kids to grow up in. But have you thought about other fundamentals like whether you’d like an older home or a new home? Perhaps an apartment is more your style? You’ll save yourself a lot of time if you know what you’re looking for, before you look.

Older home

An older home can be full of character, often has large rooms or beautiful decorative details. The garden might be established, and the area may have attracted local cafés and all the other things that make a neighbourhood great. Of course, none of this is guaranteed!
A quick word to the wise – don’t get too carried away loving the character of the house and forget to think about what work (and what money) might need to go into it to get it the way you want.

Things to consider:

  • Look for older homes with retro-fitted insulation
  • The layout may not suit modern living – living rooms might be away from the kitchen and outdoor areas
  • It can be hard to know what’s behind the walls, so alterations can be expensive
  • The age may mean wiring, roofing, piles and plumbing need replacing
  • Sometimes even if you only want to make small changes, you’ll end up having to do other work to get consent
  • Get someone qualified in to check the walls, insulation and any of the other considerations above before you buy.

It’s a good idea to get a building inspection report by a reputable company before going unconditional on an offer. See our Related Services section for help.

New home

New homes are generally well insulated, need little maintenance and have modern kitchens and bathrooms. There’s nothing like something shiny and new. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need a thorough look at all the details, especially at what’s not immediately visible to the eye. Being thorough is the key!

Things to consider:

  • Don’t forget potential extra costs of landscaping, buying curtains and carpets, or commuting
  • A new subdivision can take a while to start to look established
  • Check the quality of the building materials and finish – building jobs that have been rushed or had shortcuts when it comes to the materials can end up costing you money in the future


Apartments are often close to the city and can make ideal first homes, retirement units or high yielding property investments. Convenience, security and less maintenance – these are all some possible ‘pros’ about buying an apartment. An apartment could make it more affordable to live in a good location, too. But not all apartments are great investments, so do your research before you buy.

What’s the body corporate?

Most apartment complexes have a body corporate. All the owners belong to it, and pay a levy to cover building running costs and maintenance. The body corporate is responsible for looking after common areas such as stairs, hallways, garaging, car parks and grounds.

It also sets the rules for the complex and these can affect what you can do with your unit (for instance you may not be able to alter your unit or run a business from home). Every body corporate is different and it’s important to find out how it works and what the rules are, because it can affect both your use of the property and the value of your investment.

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