Moving to, and settling in, Sydney resembles one of those distant memories from my youth – I can visualise key points in time but the details are hazier than they once were.
Still, some aspects of those early days in Sydney nearly ten years ago remain clear in my mind – flying into Sydney’s airport knowing this would be a one-way trip with no immediate return; feeling the heat on my face and accepting this would be a constant sensation; the early anticipation of all those ‘new’ experiences waiting for us, from working in a new environment to making new acquaintances to finding a new home.
Early on, we knew that we wanted to own a property in Sydney. We sought proximity to the beach. We desired a home for our soon-to-be growing family. We craved stability and security. And so we set out to discover a house of our own on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.
Jumping in, feet first
It was a minefield of emotions, experiences and indecision. We didn’t know the area, we hadn’t expected the booming property market and the rules for buying property were the same but different to that which we’d experienced in Canada and the UK.
With hindsight, we made mistakes. We didn’t have enough information and we struggled to keep up with a property market that surged ahead. But we worked hard to understand the local conditions and eventually purchased a house after a year of trying.
As we move through winter into spring, thousands of people across Australia will now be thinking about buying or renting a home like we did – many of them expats like myself. For potential homebuyers, the journey from ‘interested party’ to ‘successful property buyer’ can be a stressful and emotional one.
Added to the range of emotions you’ll go through is the fact that the Aussie property market continues to skyrocket, meaning that demand remains high and rival competition ever-present.
To ease the stress of finding a place to call home in what can often feel like a foreign and unfamiliar setting, I’ve compiled a list of top tips for discovering your own dream home abroad based on everything I’ve learned along the way.
How to discover a home abroad
- Understand your goals and budget
Before you even try to find a home, understand your goals and know why you’re buying or renting. Think about what you want and consider other factors such as family, job, the kind of lifestyle you want and more. It might sound obvious to think this all through but it will give you clarity and greater peace of mind when the time comes to acting fast on a particular property.
Knowing your budget based upon the kind of home you can afford and the suburb you want to live in will help you know when to walk away from a property if the price starts to move significantly northwards. Keep this budget to yourself and don’t let the real estate agent know it, try to remain calm and in control, then negotiate your way to owning a prime piece of real estate based on what you can actually afford.
- Do your research of the local area
Buying property can be complex and it pays to educate yourself and better understand the areas to buy in. For example, you might want to consider lesser-known suburbs with longer-term potential, as the gains could be better in the future and you might not have to spend as much to get into that particular area.
Rather than rely on traditional estate agent offices, use an online tool to help narrow your property search based on your key criteria. Try Homesales who make it easy for people looking to find a house (purchase or rent) in Sydney or Australia-wide through the search tool on their website at www.homesales.com.au. You can also set up email property alerts to match your exact criteria and Homesales will email you the matched properties.
- Intimately know the property market
To better understand the local housing market, you need to know the lay of the land from the experts. Speak to local real estate agents, read the property pull-outs in the regional newspapers, talk to friends and neighbours, and build your knowledge of what’s going on with property in Sydney and beyond.
By arming yourself with vital intel such as this, you’ll be in a much stronger position to find a future home, make an educated offer and hopefully secure the property of your dreams.
- Have your finances in place
Chances are you’ll be bringing in money from overseas. First things first, find a reputable and trusted foreign exchange company to transfer your hard-earned cash over to Australia – look for someone with low fees and favourable rates of exchange. If you haven’t already taken care of this, talk to several lenders or mortgage brokers and clearly define your borrowing ability, the interest rates and costs you’ll be looking at, and next steps in order to be pre-approved or conditionally eligible for a home loan.
Lenders or brokers with a trusted reputation for delivering quickly and as promised should be high on your agenda – speak with them and have your financing in order to move fast on making that home purchase.
- Don’t ever give up
It’s important to keep focused and stay positive at a time when you might be struggling to find the right home or feel that you keep losing out to the competition around you, much as we were. Take a step back, reassess your strategy and believe that you will find a great home – it just takes patience, perseverance and the right mindset and attitude.
So while others may be losing their heads around you, it’s time to keep cool, calm and collected – and never, ever give up on finding the home of your dreams abroad.
Whether you’re buying a first home or considering a new investment abroad, navigating a foreign property market can be a complicated process and filled with many challenges. At times, we often wondered whether we’d ever find our own place in the sun.
Yet we soon realised, that armed with the right information and with certain tools at our disposal, we could navigate an unfamiliar property market and make better, more informed decisions in order to discover our dream home abroad.
This post was supported by Homesales. Image credit: Small House