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Hannah’s 5 Tips for Buyers

Recently I put aside my 'real estate' agent hat and put on my 'buyer'-hat when attending a nearby auction. Interesting it was, and made me decide to focus this week on what my buyers are telling me and what I'm experiencing too in the CBD at present.

Here are my 5 tips – in no particular order - for CBD buyers, based on the current feeling and feedback from buyers in the CBD marketplace and the pitfalls I see some falling into:

  • Check Body Corporate information. You can learn a lot about the current state of a building by looking at how much is in the Sinking and Administration funds, but also by asking for a copy of the most recent Body Corporate minutes. This will give you an insight into any upcoming repairs, or major works, as well as any other issues that the building, management or Body Corporate are facing. Ask your real estate agent for a copy of this.


  • Finance in place. Make sure you have a solid deposit of 10-20%, but at least 10% of the purchase price should give you a good basis for starting off the purchase process. Word of Warning: don't WAIT until you're signing a contract to get finance approval – get it all in place beforehand. I can't stress this enough as many a contract has fallen through due to lack of finance approval, and with banks having tightened their lending criteria dramatically in the last years don't simply rely on 'lady luck' and a job to get you the financing you need.


  • Research and more research. Yes, Hannah – you're ALWAYS saying this ... is what I hear you saying. Not wanting to nag, but knowing what you really want, your top priorities and going out there to find a property that will fulfil those needs is crucial to any purchase. It's not like playing lotto – pick a number, see if you like it and take it (or don't). It's probably one of the largest financial decisions you'll ever make so treat it as such and research it accordingly. My tip: Research THEN start viewing properties, not the other way around.


  • Don't be afraid to spend more. This may seem totally illogical and 'agent claptrap talk' but in the current CBD marketplace I mean it. There are lots of buyers out there in the Brisbane CBD at the moment and the sellers are keeping their properties very close to their hearts and not wanting to part with them. But all analysts are currently forecasting real increases in 2014. What does that mean for buyers? If possible, invest a few extra dollars in a more premium piece of CBD, as by this time next year you may kick yourself for not doing so.


  • Investor tip: Rentability. What rentals can I realistically achieve, what's the building's track-record and what is the occupancy rate, now and over the last mid-term? These are key questions to be asking at the moment. As a 'thumb of rule' I'd be looking to short-term rent if the occupancy rate is (and was over the last year(s)) above 90%. If it's below 90% then I'd be looking at long-term rentals. Interestingly enough there are a few select buildings – one in particular comes to mind – which have lower short-term occupancy rates but the long-term tenants love the building and are happy to stay. Again, it's a matter of knowing the building and its rental dynamics and what suits your investment needs and priorities.

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