Article by Cheryl McKenna – office manager and licenced estate agent.

The advice I gave my younger sister

The conversation started with a text message “So I am inspecting that house I mentioned tomorrow at noon, and low-key freaking out about it.  Not sure what I need to ask or look for or do!”.

This from my slightly younger, worldly travelled, professional, research obsessed, diligent, knowledgeable city living sister.  Asked of her older, chaotic, divorced mother of 3 similarly chaotic kids, who has bought and sold so many times my family are no longer surprised when I tell them “no, we didn’t build on the block we bought a year ago after paying a LOT for plans to be drawn up.  We are selling the block to buy a 110 year old home – it’s so cute!”

Many years ago we may have had faith when the property owner told us that the “hot water service makes some noises, but it hasn’t skipped a beat since we bought it” or when the bank manager gave us a casual “yep, you will be right” with a wink and a nod – finance approved!  But not anymore.

I am a big believer in better safe than sorry.  I am also a believer in some wise words passed on from my beloved boss “if you like it, and you can afford it, then buy it”.

My advice to my sister was to go and have a look at the property. Ask many questions of the agent, request and have a qualified adviser read through the Section 32, arrange your building inspection, ask many questions of your inspector to understand the implications of the report, knock on the neighbours door and ask if they enjoy living in the area.  (Knowing full well, that being the organised, methodical person that she is, she will have already scoped out the lowest interest rate with the best new home loan incentives on offer and screwed the bank down another percentage point on her preapproved finance!)  But amid all of those important, practical measures take a moment to breathe and also ask these questions of yourself; do I feel comfortable here?  Am I going to be financially able to manage payments AND have enough to enjoy my life?  Am I going to pull into my driveway and feel a sense of accomplishment?  Or are the noises from the hot water service going to drive me nuts every time the hot water is turned on?!

And so our conversation ended with us both having RSI (neither of us are cool enough to text with our thumbs…), and my younger, so much more pulled together sister giving me a “Thanks : ) hopefully I won’t bugger it up” and me replying “At the end of the day, if you end up paying the price and you are happy with it, it really doesn’t matter!  I think it is a great buy – affordable, room to improve it and a beautiful blank canvas :))))))))) And close to decent coffee x

In short, different things matter to different people, but there is never a silly question.  Don’t be afraid to ask them ALL, but find someone you trust has the knowledge to give you a balanced answer.  And make happiness a priority : )