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My main considerations:

  • Potential to open up living areas. Can be impossible where, for example, the bathroom is lying between two main living areas.
  • Overall space is important of course but good design and layout can compensate for small footprint.
  • Aspect - lying well to the sun (I'm in southern NZ)
  • Privacy is another important consideration for me.
  • Accessible outdoor space
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If it is possible start attending open homes at least 12 months before buying to gain insight into just what to expect in the area you are considering - what you get for the price, the age of the homes in general, defects or issues that may be common, you can even pick up ideas for addressing these issues, the terrain of the area and any resulting drainage issues, (beware of excavations that have been done to accommodate extra rooms or garages), general amenities in the area, traffic and traffic flow, access not just to the property but even the street, parking for visitors - the more you visit an area the more feel you get for it. Even walk around the area at different times of the day if possible - you can learn so much this way.

Without meaning to sound snobby, the socio-economic level of the of people living in the area can dramatically affect your investment - are neighbours gardeners? Do they maintain their properties? Even keeping lawns mowed regularly can make or break the ambience of an area. There is also the number of cars parked on the street, plus boats, trailers, caravans, these all impede traffic flow, even affect people visiting you, and can detract from an area.

Having just moved to a rural area for a slower lifestyle the inside of the home became a huge issue for me. How has the house been maintained? I admire DIYers their initiative especially when budgets are tight. Unfortunately, people are usually very proud of their handwork and expect it to be reflected in the sale price of their home, BUT there are ways of doing things correctly or acceptably and there are ways that have you counting the cost of gutting and starting over generally overcapitalising the value of the property.

Original homes need to be seriously considered in relation to your expectations. With so many beautiful products on the market today it is easy to get carried away and overcapitalise with renovations so being mindful of the socio-economic level of the area it may be necessary to keep any renovations simple and basic with maybe just a luxury or two for you to enjoy but not expect to add any significant value to the home.

If you are planning on moving a considerable distance then renting for 6 months to me is a must. The cost of the outlay plus 2 moves is well worth the possible mistakes you could make. It took me 5 months to narrow down just where I wanted to live but when this house came on the market, I knew the area was exactly where I wanted to be, the layout and size was "near enough" to being what I wanted, I was more than familiar with prices in the area so I could make a realistic offer on the spot which was accepted.

Make yourself known to local agents too, so they know you are serious and will give you advance notice of properties coming on the market to consider.

One other thing to consider before purchasing is your insurance. This can vary significantly just street to street. Be aware also of what your insurance company deems flood zone and fire risk areas - these can vary from company to company. I had some companies wanting to charge me up to $400 more pa for flood insurance where my company did not even deem the area a 1 in 100 year flood risk. As well I moved a 5 min drive from where I was renting and saved $207 on my car insurance, I would not have picked any difference in the areas, but apparently my area is deemed less risky.

Don't forget also, to check out Wi-Fi availability and TV reception.


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