NEEDING MORE SPACE
The good news is you don’t necessarily have to move into a bigger house to gain extra space. You might just need to de-clutter your surroundings and use your space more efficiently. Here are 9 easy steps that could make a big difference to your living space:
•Make a list from room to room of what should stay and what could go.
•If you haven’t used certain items in the past 2 years, chances are you won’t in the future. Go through all of your cupboards, wardrobes and drawers.
•Adding shelving units can make a big difference especially to children’s rooms and the laundry.
•Use the extra space under beds for storage of extra linen or toys.
•Hooks behind doors or in hallways help use space more efficiently.
•Use your local library regularly rather than buying and store books at home.
•Consider lending items of furniture that aren’t essential to friends and family.
•Hire a self-storage unit for the things you can’t get rid of but don’t need in the house.
•Once you’ve sorted everything, hold a garage sale.
MAKING ROOM FOR A GROWING FAMILY
When you first moved into your home, you may have thought that three bedrooms were going to be enough for you and your family. However, over the years, you may have had a few more kids than you originally planned or taken in a relative.
This can cause a bit of a headache if you begin to run out of room, but here are two ideas for creating more space in your home.
If you have an older family member or a teenage child, granny flats make a great option for them to maintain their independence while still living close to the family home. They can also be rented out separately, should your family members move out of the property. You'll need to get council approval to build one, and if you're going to rent it out to the public then you might need to obtain a separate power and water meter for the flat.
Another option is to convert your garage into a more liveable setting. However, you won't be able to just back the car out and throw in a bed - there is some other work involved in the process. As it will become a living space, you'll need to get council approval and ensure it meets building standards. Other factors you need to plan for include insulation, flooring, heating, lighting, electricity and plumbing.
The option you choose to use for your home depends on your budget, how much room you have and whether you can obtain council approval. However, both options have the potential to add value to your home, too!
EXTEND OR BUY BIGGER
Sometimes it’s faster and less traumatic for your family to buy a more suitable home than to renovate or extend. A new location can also provide lifestyle benefits you may not have expected possible. Ask yourself these questions when looking at upgrading your home:
•Will your local council approve the type of renovations you would need to complete?
•Is your area likely to serve your needs well into the future?
•Are you prepared to live through a renovation?
•Do you have enough time to renovate?
•Are you prepared to supervise a renovation or would you need an architect?
•How much would the renovation cost, compared to buying a new home?
BUYING FOR A GROWING FAMILY
When buying a family home, you need to consider your budget, what sort of area will serve the needs of growing children, what the neighbourhood is like, and proximity to schools and public transport. Also…
•Look for properties that offer potential for further expansion, either upward with a second level or outward into the backyard.
•Look for north facing backyards. They make for a more attractive play area and the lawn will be more able to stand up to the hard wearing of growing children.
•Children love to climb trees so look for gardens where trees have lots of limbs. Children can safely grab hold of them and are less likely to fall.
•Aim to find level land that can easily be fenced. It will make it easier to secure pets, build pools, BBQs, sheds and cubby houses at a later stage.
A FAMILY FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD
It’s wise to ask lots of questions when looking for a family friendly neighbourhood. Knock on a few doors, talk to locals, and Google suburb reviews to see what experiences other people have had. Here are some things you should check for:
•Good primary and secondary schools.
•Easy access to buses or trains and/or good pedestrian access to the things you’ll need.
•The ability to enroll your children into the school you desire (based on your address).
•The presence of other families in the street and general vicinity.
•Easy access to after school and day care centres in the area.
•Proximity to recreation centres, swimming pools, libraries, and community facilities.
•Safe parks and playgrounds.
•A low crime rate.
Moving home has an emotional impact on everyone, especially children. However, you can make the process more positive by following these easy tips:
•Show your children the property and explore the local surroundings together, well before the move.
•Visit new schools together and introduce them to their new teachers, before their first day of school.
•Explain how moving will benefit the whole family, offer exciting new adventures, new places to visit and opportunities to make more friends.
•Make the process of packing their belongings a happy experience.
•Encourage them to feel involved on the moving day by carrying their favourite toy or a small back pack of their favourite things.
•Make sure they have plenty of snacks available to eat and drink on the day of moving.
CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE MOVE
As exciting as the prospect of moving to a bigger house is, it can be quite an undertaking and must be taken seriously. It’s important to establish if this move is a need or a wish. If your present home no longer accommodates your family’s growth, then moving to a larger home will likely be necessary. Some points to consider:
•While a larger home may seem like an attractive option, it will also be more expensive to maintain. This might outweigh the perceived benefits if you’re moving simply due to a wish.
•Speak with your existing financial advisor to assess your current situation and see if you could comfortably service a bigger loan.
•Review any other debt you have (e.g. credit card, car loan, school fees etc.) as this can have a significant impact on your borrowing capabilities. Make sure debts are either paid up-to-date, or paid off entirely before investigating or applying for a new mortgage.
•Make use of tools like a home loan repayment calculator to work out what you can afford.
BUYING AN EXISTING HOME OR A BUILDING A BRAND NEW ONE
•When buying an older property, you can move in straight away, unless you are planning major renovations.
•Older properties are sometimes cheaper than new ones, depending on the location and condition of the property.
•Older homes offer charming period features and, often, higher ceilings, quality timber floors and unique architectural features.
•Older properties may need renovation of major systems such as heating/cooling, wiring, plumbing, roofing. But, they can offer significantly more margin for turn around and profit.
•What you see is what you get – assuming you’ve conducted proper building and pest inspections.
•With house and land packages, there’s always a range of different floor plans and prices to choose from. If you’re not creative or don’t have a challenging piece of land to build on, they can be a great solution
•New homes are designed to suit today’s fashions and lifestyles. They’re more likely to appeal to a wider audience when the time comes to sell
•New homes are generally more eco-friendly so your energy bills will be much cheaper
•However, there is the risk that the builder/developer may not deliver exactly as proposed. It’s vital you seek an established company with a good reputation.
How much you can borrow depends on your salary, as well as how much deposit you have saved. If you already have a mortgage on another property then the equity you’ve accumulated will be a factor lending institutions consider.
GETTING A HOME LOAN
Contact a local bank or a mortgage broker for free advice.
•If you’re buying your first home, research the different types of loans and interest rates available. There are a lot of lenders out there, so it’s best to do your initial research online.
•If you feel overwhelmed with the multitude of options and financial terms, a safe and easy solution is to talk to a mortgage broker. They don’t charge, will come to you, and usually offer a wide range of different loan options.
•Speak to more than one broker to compare advice and, if you feel it necessary, speak to a financial adviser.
MAKING AN OFFER SUBJECT TO
You can make an offer on a property subject to the sale of your home by adding it as a condition to your offer and making sure it’s included as a clause in the contract of sale.
Keep in mind you should only do this if you have no other choice. Your offer will be much less attractive to the seller and real estate agent. A lower offer from a competing buyer, without such restrictions, may be accepted instead of yours because it may be a safer and quicker sale for the seller.
HOW A REAL ESTATE AGENT CAN HELP
Real estate agents can be a great resource when looking to buy your property. They know the area, and will look out for the right property for you.
•Our agents are always up for a chat and will devote attention to your wish list. Give us a call anytime or drop into the office during business hours.
•Ask us to add you to our client management system and you’ll receive priority notifications as new listings matching your wish list come on the market
Our agents are also more than happy to help those of you who may want to sell your current home AND buy a new one. Having the one friendly contact working for you on both fronts can simplify the process for you.