"Land - They're not making anymore of it!"
The best advise we could give anyone starting out is to find a suburb you like and buy small, pay it off and have a solid foundation to work your way up. Once you have equity in real estate banks will lend you money for more purchases, to start a business, buy shares or educate your kids.
Steps to buying
Talk to a finance broker about how much you want to borrow, check out the rate, extra fees, period, flexibility of the terms and handy things like access to internet banking and redraw facilities.
Start looking at as many properties as you can, don't judge a book by it's cover, look at every thing in your price range.
If you find something you like get a second opinion but keep in mind that Mum and Dad may have only paid $10,000 for their first home and they haven't seen all the ones you have. It's best to ask someone with building or real estate experience. Don't be shy about talking to the neighbours and if the property is tenanted I find most tenants will be very forthcoming with all it's features both good and bad.
Make an offer, don't forget it's not just the price the owners are interested in, if they need to get out quick try offering a shorter settlement. Most owners need to sell before they can move so if they haven't started looking the moment their agent rings them with an offer is when they panic about being homeless. If this is the case try a 12 week settlement that can be shortened by them if they find something.
Once you have price and settlement agreed you need to finalise any loan application and organise a pest or building report, these can be very scary for first timers as they often contain 3 pages on the property and 10 pages of disclaimer. You need to be realistic on the age of the home, your budget and the fact that no property is free of faults. A wise agent once told me he bought a property that was 110 years old, I remarked "Boy I bet the building report was long", he said "no, I didn't bother, it's been standing for this long it must be good".
When it's time to sign the contract you will need to pay a deposit. Deposit bonds are very popular today and can be arranged through your broker or you can pay by personal or bank cheque. Only when the contracts are exchanged is the sale binding, owners have been known to go back on their word and sell to a higher offer, if you think it's a good buy there is a fair chance other buyers will be interested as well.
Once the contracts have exchanged you can look forward to the agreed settlement, organise insurance and send out the house warming invites.
Not sure what it's worth? We can give you a printed report on all the most recent comparable sales so you can make your offer with confidence.