What Steps Should You Take Before You Buy A Property?

Paul Leydin
January 31, 2019


Before buying any property – be it your first home or investment property – it’s important to do your due diligence.

Always be sure to seek expert advice and start with this checklist of essentials.

Hire a conveyancer or solicitor

Conveyancing refers to the transfer of land from a seller to a buyer and it can be done by either a conveyancer or a solicitor. They’ll make sure you meet all of your legal requirements and generally ensure a smooth process. This includes carrying out a title search; preparing and certifying all legal documents related to the mortgage; calculating adjustments of taxes and council rates; organising a land survey of the property if needed; putting your deposit into a trust account until settlement (unless your real estate agent is doing this). Do your research before hiring a conveyancer or solicitor by asking friends, family or your real estate agent if they can recommend someone they’ve used and trust. You can also try the Australian Institute of Conveyancers’ (Victorian Division) or the Law Institute of Victoria.

Building inspection

A qualified building inspector can inform you about any faults in the property, if and how they can be repaired, and what these repairs would cost. Their report will also highlight any unsafe or unauthorised renovations and/or extensions. You may be able to use this report to renegotiate the property’s price with the vendor. To find a registered building practitioner, visit the Victorian Building Authority website.

Pest inspection

A professional pest inspection can identify termites or other infestations that could cause damage to your property, as well as the extent of any existing or past damage and what it would cost to resolve. Again, such costs can be used to negotiate the property’s price. Visit the Victoria Building Authority’s termites page for more information.

Buying into an Owner’s Corporation

If you are buying into an owner’s corporation in an apartment building governed by a strata scheme, there are specific things you’ll need to understand about your obligations as an owner. These include the by-laws, fees and levies of the building and rules governing strata living. Your solicitor or conveyancer can organise a strata report for you if a free one is not provided by the vendor and you can find out more from Consumer Affairs Victoria or Strata Community Australia.

Do you need a survey?

Getting a property survey done before you buy will ensure you understand the exact dimensions and inclusions of your property. This can prevent issues down the line such as encroachment onto your property boundaries by neighbours or contention over the ownership of easements and right of way. A surveyor will draw up a plan for you and, if necessary, lodge it with Land Use Victoria. Surveying errors are more common with older houses and problems only arise for buyers if they have not been listed on the title.

Proposed planning and development

Be aware of any major developments that could change the feel of the area or increase construction noise and traffic. The local council can advise you if there are any proposed or issued planning permits for nearby properties. For more information, visit the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Planning Schemes Online. For information about noise in the area, you can consult the Environmental Protection Authority, Victoria’s commercial and industrial noise page.

Want more?

If you have questions about what you need to do before buying a property, talk to our expert team.

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