When you’re gearing up to buy your first home, most people prepare themselves for the cost of the purchase pretty well. Stamp duty, lender’s mortgage insurance if you need it, and of course the price of the property itself. But there are a whole range of peripheral activities that first home buyers tend to skim over, planning on doing it themselves to save a few extra cents. In today’s DIY culture, it’s not surprising – but there are a few areas where bringing in the professionals is well worth the cost…and it’ll save you in the long run.
For a few hundred dollars, a professional building inspector will be able to check that what you’re buying isn’t a total money pit. And if you’re buying an older property, it’s worth having the “subject to inspection” clause in the contract so you can back out if there is some disaster hiding in the rafters. But even on more modern builds, an inspector will be able to highlight things that you’re likely to need to consider in the short to medium term- things like insulation, glazing or caulking, and natural wear and tear that you’ll need to patch up. Once your mortgage is ticking along, knowing when these expenses will need to be addressed can save a huge amount of stress – and potentially even mean you can plan it so that it’s not an emergency call out.
Yes, it is possible to move yourself. And yes, it’ll save you a couple of hundred dollars. But the benefits of professional removalists far outweigh the costs (in this writer’s humble opinion). First of all, it’s FASTER. They do this for a living, so they know how to pack efficiently, how to move things without breaking them, and how to lift heavy items without hurting themselves. Secondly, they’re insured. When you hire your own truck (which you’re paying for anyway), the vehicle is insured, but if you pack your antique mirror badly and it cracks – that’s on you. Lastly, it’ll help your sanity. While the removalists keep carting your boxes in, you can get started unpacking that afternoon – instead of doing your third trip in the rent-a-truck back to your old place.
This one really comes down to time. Packing and unpacking unearths a huge amount of dust. And dead flies. And bobby pins. And once your stuff is out of the truck in your new place, the LAST thing you want to have to worry about is cleaning before you unpack. The first house I bought, I arrived all excited and ready to build my bed to tumble into – only to find that the carpet was an abstract piece of faded coffee stains and entrenched dust bunnies. It took the wind out of my sails. Time over again, I’d shell out the extra few dollars to get someone to come and make the place livable before I moved in.
This one is a no-brainer – because it doesn’t actually cost you anything. A mortgage is the single biggest financial decision most of us will make, and first home buyers sometimes fall into the trap of going to their core bank out of loyalty. The reality is, there are so many smaller lenders in the market offering great deals, that you have to shop around – but you won’t look for what you’ve never heard of. Get a broker to do the shopping for you; they have specialist tools and relationships with lenders designed to get you the best deal. It could take thousands off your mortgage repayments.
Once you’ve bought, there are dozens of other points where a professional could help make your move into home ownership smoother, and most people will give you an obligation free quote. So don’t be shy about letting people bid for your work. You can then make a call about whether you want to do it yourself.
Ilan Rimer is the CEO fo Property Trail, Australia's first, free online guide for property buyers.