Property

Viewing a house

To view a house you can do one of 2 things

  1. Book a viewing with the estate agent
  2. Go to the open house viewing

Both give you a good opportunity to view the property with the added bonus of the open house viewing being that you can gauge the interest in the house and use this to your advantage when putting in an offer

Buying a house

In Australia, the process of buying your dream home is slightly different.  Houses are sold either in an auction or the more traditional sale price

NOTE – You can only purchase a property in Australia if you are an Australian or a resident.  If your visa does not say words like allowed to stay in Australia indefinately, then you are more than likely NOT allowed to purchase a house.

House Auctions

With an Auction a house is set a reserved price which the seller wants as a minimum.  If the auction value doesn’t reach this value the house is not sold.  If the reserve price is reached and you end up with the highest bid, then you are locked into the purchase and must pay there and then.

Traditional Sale Price

As in the UK, the house goes on the market at a price and can be negotiated with the seller

In recent years with the property boom in Australia, houses were being sold within hours and days of going onto the market.  In Queensland if an offer is on a house and accepted, the seller can’t take anymore offers from the next day onwards until the house is sold.  People would put offers out on many houses and simply withdraw all offers but the best one, leaving the other sellers in limbo and needing to re-list their house.  To combat this the Queensland government came up with legislation to tie in a buyer to their offer with a fee payable to the seller if the buyer decides to pull out.  The fee is 0.25% of the purchase price of the property.  Check carefully the restrictions in other states as they will be different.

Cooling off

There are upto 3 opportunities for the buyer to pull out of a purchase of a property in Queensland

  1. 5 day cooling off period – If you decided within this timeframe that you made a mistake you can pull out of the purchase but you will be subjected to a fee of 0.25% of the property purchase price.  This is payable to the seller so that they can recuperate some of the cost of having to re-list the property
  2. 7 day building and pest inspection period – If either the building or pest inspections fail and the buyer and seller cannot reach a compromise, you can pull out of the purchase.  There will be no fee payable in this case
  3. 14 day finance period – If it ends up that the bank will not lend you enough to purchase the property you can pull out.  There will be no fee payable in this case

Please check the legislation carefully though and be aware that legislation changes from state to state

Signing the contract

Once you have agreed the sale price with the seller and you have signed the contract, you are now liable for the property!  As such you MUST get appropriate buildings insurance to cover you for any liability

Building and Pest Inspections

It is wise to do this even if you are looking at buying a brand new house.  Also, don’t use the clients recommended to you by the estate agents as they could be in each other’s pockets and you will not be able to rely on the service that you get from them.  In this case Google, neighbours or people at work are the best sources of information to finding a good inspector.

Again like most things, the price of the inspections can vary, but as a guidline $600 should be enough to get you a good quality building and pest inspection.

Conveyancing

Given that you know little to nothing about the processess involved in buying a house in Australia, it is a MUST to get a professional conveyancer in to do the work for you.  They cost much the same as in the UK (about $1000 or so), but will do far more work than their UK conterparts.  They will handle water, electricity and gas meter reading for example and will notify your council of the new ownership of the property

Services

You will need to sort out alot of the usual stuff yourself such as telephone, internet and satelitte/digital television.

Telephone

Telstra and Yes Optus are the big ones and yes they do have their problems like BT and other such telephone operators in the UK

Internet

Again Telstra and Yes Optus offer internet services and have bundle offers with the telephone.  You can of course go to any internet provider of which there are many like TPG for example.

Satellite/Digital Television

Here you are limited in what is available.  There is a free to view digital service like in the UK, but when it comes to the paid options, all there is is Foxtel which is SKY to the English!

Electricity

In some states you can now choose your energy supplier and there are good deals around for you.  Decide on one before hand and call them up.  Once in the house, take you meter reading and call them up to ensure that everything is in order