Buying property is a scary thing at first. It is possibly the biggest financial decision you’ll ever make in your life. There are so many factors and a seemingly endless list of steps you need to take and variables to take into account.

Here are the basics
We’ve outlined below some of the basic first steps to make the mammoth process just a little less overwhelming.

Get a copy of the contract right away
No property is legally allowed to be on the market until a sale contract is drawn up. You can request to see that contract at any time. If you get a copy of the contract early on, it will give you and your lawyers a chance to review it with good time, so you don’t miss out.

Make sure you get a condition report
There are two main inspection reports you ought to get done before entering into a contract for a new property. The first is the pre-purchase inspection that is an overall report on the condition of the building as a whole. The second is a pest report, and as it sounds, is an inspection of any potential pest threat. These are not obligatory, but are highly recommended.

Gazumping – the unavoidable risk
The most frustrating thing about making an offer, is the prospect of being outbid. The notion of gazumping is where you’ve agreed with the seller or agent on an offer and then the seller changes their mind and goes with a higher bid. Unfortunately, they’re well within their rights to find the best deal. The only real way to avoid losing money from gazumping is to wait to conduct condition reports until the cooling off period. This, however, also has its risks.

What happens at the exchange?
This is where it all becomes serious. At the point of exchange, you are entering a legal contract with the intent to go ahead. At this stage, you and the seller sign your respective contracts and you swap or exchange them. You are also obliged to pay a 10% deposit.

What happens if you change your mind?
Fear not! That’s just what the cooling off period is for. Generally, you’ll have five business days after exchange to change your mind. Although, pulling out does leave the seller entitled to 0.25% of the offer. There is often room to negotiate.

Getting things settled
Settlement is the official change of hands. This is when their property becomes yours. Monies are exchanged as is ownership. This usually happens within six weeks of the exchange but can be negotiated ahead of time.

 Craig Forman