When you’re choosing your new home, you want to make sure it’s right for you and your family. When you go and inspect the property, there are a number of things to look for which will help you make your final decision. Safety, convenience and comfort are all top priority issues, along with the ongoing costs of upkeep. Here are our top five things to look for before signing on the dotted line.
Is the home secure? If it’s part of an apartment complex, is the front door secure and what processes are there in place to protect tenants from strangers coming in?
Look for deadlocks, window locks, security alarms and security doors on the apartment or house itself. The presence of such features will help your family feel more secure, and it will also assist you in getting affordable insurance. You could even check with your insurance company beforehand what features they take into account when quoting on a policy.
2. Outside areas
It’s not just the inside of your home that will contribute to your comfort. Inspect the outside areas as well. If there’s a parking lot, is it well-lit and safe to use at night? Are pathways and gardens kept well maintained and clear of debris?
It’s also worth making sure you understand who is responsible for maintaining the garden. Common garden areas at the front of a shared complex are usually maintained by the owners’ corporation, but not always. If you have a private garden, talk to the agent about what the expectations are in relation to upkeep. You may also want to make some of your own changes to the garden, like installing a vegetable bed or planting shrubs, so make sure that you’re able to do so before committing to the lease.
Notice how the home feels as you walk inside it, which will tell you whether it’s adequately insulated. If it’s cooler than outside on a hot day, or pleasantly warm in the middle of winter without all the heaters on full, those are positive signs. Canberra winters, especially, can be icy, and a poorly insulated property will see your power bills soar.
Look for double glazed windows, good air flow, solidly made doors and suitable flooring to tell you whether the home will be comfortable to live in in all seasons. Thick curtains help a lot in winter, as do awnings or verandahs in summer.
4. Storage and space
It can be easy to get caught up in the size and layout of a home, but don’t forget to look at the storage options as well. That spacious bedroom will feel a lot smaller if you have to move a wardrobe in, and the hall is more likely to feel cramped if you need to add a linen cupboard. Attic or basement space is a bonus, as is a garden shed for those extra implements that collect outside.
Consider what you’ll be bringing to the property and whether the rooms will accommodate it all comfortably. You don’t want to find yourself paying for a storage unit as well as your home.
Parking can be an issue, especially if you’re renting on a main road. Check whether the property has off street parking available to residents, and if so whether you’re entitled to an assigned parking spot or a ‘first come, first served’ basis. If off street parking isn’t available, check what the rules are around parking on the street and consider whether you’ll be able to park close to your property at high demand times.
Once you’ve found a property that ticks all the boxes, make sure you understand the terms of the lease. Check with the agent about the size of the deposit and bond required, any rent increases and any special conditions. If you want to have a pet, bring that up before signing because some landlords will refuse permission. If everything checks out, you’ve found your new home!