Buying your first property? Here are some handy tips I recently had published: http://www.womensagenda.com.au/pers...r-first-home-buyers/201507276069#.VcF4Rvmqqko Breaking into the housing market is as tough as it’s ever been. But the last thing first time buyers should do is panic and rush in unprepared. Instead, keep calm and read my top three legal tips for first home buyers: 1. Ensure you have finance sorted first. If you’re buying a property at auction or within three business days of an advertised auction, generally there is no cooling off period: the contract is unconditional. It’s essential that you have finance approved before you bid. Make sure you tell your bank or mortgage broker about the specific property you’re bidding on, in case there may be an issue with obtaining finance; very small apartments (under 40 square metres) and land in newly built housing estates tend to be conservatively valued by banks. And it is possible to pay a 5% deposit or a bank deposit bond instead of cash, but this will need to be negotiated with the vendor prior to an auction or prior to purchasing via private sale. 2. Take nothing at face value. Just because the agent says something about the property, don’t assume it’s accurate. The contract will specifically state you cannot rely on any representations by the agent or advertising material. Do your homework. What do the Owners Corporation/strata rules say about having pets or storage on balconies? Are you allowed to park on common property? Will the Council’s planning scheme allow you to knock down and rebuild? What does an independent rental appraisal say about the rent you could achieve if it’s to be an investment property? Be armed with all the information you need in order to make an informed decision - and to avoid any nasty surprises. 3. Thoroughly inspect the property. The condition that the property is in on the day you sign the contract is the condition you should expect to receive the property in, minus fair wear and tear. “Buyer beware” - if the air-conditioning wasn't working on the date of sale, the vendor doesn’t need to fix it. Be thorough when you inspect the property: turn on all appliances, check all light fittings, flush all toilets and turn on all taps. Look closely around window frames and screen doors for signs of damp and water damage. Are newly painted gutters and window sills masking rot or rust? Does a squeaky and uneven floor indicate stump damage? An independent building inspector can check for invisible but expensive problems like roof damage and terminate infestation. Knowing exactly what you’re signing up to can be a handy price bargaining chip when negotiating a private sale, but at the very least you’ll know what you’ll need to budget for by way of repairs.