Real Estate News

Pre-settlement Checklist for Home Buyers

Published 19th October 2022Updated 17th April 2023

a woman going through a pre settlement checklist as a new home buyer

Already thinking about moving into your first or new home? Once you’ve gone through your checklist for buying your first home, you should have only a few more tasks before you can live under your own roof.

Right of ownership

One of these steps is verifying the current owner’s right of ownership. The last thing you need after you’ve moved in, is to realise that your property purchase isn’t valid. 

Request an official record of the property’s ownership history from the current owner. This should prove that the owner has the legal right to sell the property and it has no liens or hurdles that might come into play later.

Home and contents insurance

If the property’s location is generally prone to natural disasters such as bushfires or storms, it may be a good idea to take out a full home and contents insurance.

Significant property damage and financial loss could also be sustained through burglaries or vandalism. Even something as simple and unassuming as a leaky pipe could flood your house!

According to a research article listed on Sage Journals, around 13% of all property losses for the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in VIC (where over 2,000 homes were destroyed) were uninsured. 

Make sure that your insurance also covers all major disasters. For example, when the 2010/2011 floods struck, almost half of the insurance policies didn’t cover flooding. 

Building inspection

This is another key detail that’s often forgotten on first-home checklists. Although this may cost you a few hundred dollars, it’ll be worth its weight in gold.

Get a property condition report from the current owner or have the property thoroughly inspected by a licensed professional. Check for:

Structural soundness

Check the building’s structural integrity by looking for damp or saggy walls, faulty roofing etc.

Other safety issues

There may be other concerning factors that may be hidden to the eye. Check for asbestos, wall cracks, loose balustrades or any other factors that might put you and your family at risk.

Legality of renovations

If the previous owners built any other features such as garden sheds or patios without council approval, they’ll need to be torn down.

Pest control inspection

If you’re seeing some obvious signs of termite activity, the only way to be sure is to get a licensed professional to conduct a pest inspection.

This will check the property not only for termites but other pests too such as ants, wasps, mice and spiders. 

Knowing about what creatures live in the home beforehand and removing them will prevent you from getting unpleasant surprises later.

Appliances check

You’ve basically bought the house in your mind. But have you checked everything that comes with it?

Even though the house comes with a list of too-good-to-be-true features, it doesn’t always mean that you’re being sold a stellar deal. 

Make sure that your first home checklist includes everything that needs to be looked over for operational difficulties. These may be kitchen essentials such as the stovetop, plugged-in systems such as the A/C and other major additions such as an electric gate.

Furniture shopping

If you’ve snagged yourself an unfurnished home, start looking around for home items in advance.

Since your wallet is likely bearing other property purchasing expenses, you might want to scale back on the budget a bit. 

Hunt around for great deals! You could even play around with decorating concepts such as minimalism which would only need a few items around your home to look fab.

Plan ahead. Your first home furniture checklist should ideally strike a balance between what you’d like to buy for a new house and what may generally appeal to future buyers if you’re planning on re-selling.

Negotiate a price

Not too happy with the actual condition of the property? 

If you still think that the house has great potential for profit and the little faults won’t cost too much to repair, you could negotiate the asking price.

Make a list of things that should have been fixed or were falsely implied to be in great condition. Your house checklist should include faults such as damp or mould, fresh paint patches that were used to cover up defects, windows and doors in poor condition and inoperative kitchen taps.

Hire a conveyancer

Once you’re ready to start the process towards property ownership, call on a registered solicitor to take care of the legalities. 

Hiring a conveyancer may be expensive, but it’s worth it to navigate through other major factors about the property and steer clear of loopholes.

You’ll want the conveyancer to consider things like local or national planning controls, permitted uses and heritage overlays. These are not things you can do on your own. 

Make sure that you engage a registered conveyancer who’s also a qualified solicitor. Ask around for trusted and reliable conveyancers and get a rough quote for their services to compare. Go with the best deal.

Get to know the sales process

Engaging a conveyancer doesn’t mean that you should let them take over the process. You still need to play an active role.

Make sure that you know what’s happening, key dates and times and what should and shouldn’t be done on either party’s side when certain snags are reached.

Set time aside to do paperwork

The final leg of the race: good ol’ paperwork! As much as this may bore the wits out of you, you’re going to want to allocate enough time to go over the documents carefully before signing them.

If your hired conveyancer is also a lawyer, you’ll have upfront advice about the meaning of certain terminologies in the documents. 

A better understanding of legal phrases and the law will help you steer clear of any twists in the paperwork and give you the power to renegotiate before finalising the deal.

So there you have it: a step-by-step guide of everything you need to consider during the pre-settlement stage of buying your first house.

Remember - a well-planned investment is always better than a rushed one.

Happy investing!

Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog post are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon. We have not taken into account specific situations, facts or circumstances, and no part of this blog post constitutes personal financial, legal, or tax advice to you. You should seek tax advice from your accountant, specific to your situation.

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