The process of buying a home on the Gold Coast
The process of buying a home is different from state to state. Here's a step by step guide on what's involved when it comes to buying a home in Queensland.
1. Property search
Step one in the process is an obvious one, the search for a property. Most properties for sale are listed on domain.com.au and /or realestate.com.au. As property sellers pay to be listed on the major real estate websites, it will happen that you'll find some properties listed on one of these sites, but not the other. Therefor make sure you always check both.
TIP Not all homes that are for sale are listed on these two major real estate websites, many properties are sold 'off-market'. So it's worth following the different real estate agencies on Facebook & Instagram and to register your interest directly on the agencies sites so you'll be alerted to any off-market opportunities
It's critical to carefully inspect all elements of any property. The glossy photos on real estate sites can often be misleading, making rooms feel larger and brighter than they really are. Also check out the rest of the street, and the neighbouring homes - are they well maintained?
Apart from the aesthetics, make sure you also do your homework and see if the property is in a bush fire zone, flood zone or high crime area.
3. Making an offer
Most homes in the southern Gold Coast are sold by private treaty, and are advertised with an 'offers over' price, a suggested price range or an 'expression of interest'. As a buyer you can make an offer verbally or written on a property of interest and negotiate the price and any conditions directly with the selling agent. Things work a little differently when buying at auction, skip to step 8.
4. Signing the contract & making a deposit
The selling agent will draw up the contract and get both the buyer and seller to sign. As the buyer you will need a conveyancer or solicitor to review and execute the purchase contract. There is no specified minimum in terms of a required deposit, as a general guide between 5 and 10% is recommended.
5. Cooling off period
In Queensland the standard cooling off period for purchasing a home via private treaty is 5 days after the date of the contract. A cooling off period is a period in which the buyer can renege on its purchase decision. Although there can be a cancellation fee involved, up to 0.25% of the purchase price, in most instances as a buyer you can walk away without penalty.
TIP To make your offer more appealing for the seller you can agree to waive the cooling off period, this will put you in a stronger position.
6. Build & pest inspection
A standard condition for the purchase of a house is a build and pest inspection. As the buyer you will have to organise this inspection with a licensed build and pest inspector. They will provide a report on their findings. If there is anything structurally wrong with the house or there are any concerns you can then decide to pull out of the purchase, get the seller to fix the issues or renegotiate the sale. This process generally needs to be completed within 7 days of signing the contract.
TIP For homes in areas that are in a flood zone it can also be a good idea to buy a flood report from the city council and/or engage a licensed surveyor to determine accurate property and floor levels.
7. Organise finance
A standard condition of a purchase contract is a 'subject to finance' clause. This gives the buyer time to organise their mortgage or loan for the property. In the case that your loan application is refused, you can choose to walk away from the purchase and cancel the contract without penalty. The most common period for finance is 14 or 21 days, but can be as short as 7 days, depending on your financial strength. After the finance is approved, the sale goes unconditional.
8. Buying at auction
Although the number of homes sold via auction is still low on the Gold Coast, it is becoming increasingly more popular. The difference in buying at auction is that there is no cooling-off period and no conditions such as build and pest inspections are placed on the sale. As a bidder / buyer you need to have completed all of your inspections prior to auction. Exchange of contracts and payment of deposit occur on the day.
9. Pre-settlement inspection
The pre-settlement inspection usually happens 24 to 48 hours prior to settlement day when you pick up the keys to your new home. This inspection is to ensure that the home is as it was when you bought it and everything is in the condition that is agreed in the contract, including any agreed inclusions or exclusions.
10. Settlement Day
Time to pop the Champagne! When the money has cleared your bank and has arrived with the seller, the sale is complete. You're now officially the home owner. You can pick up your key and get ready to move in.