Realistically, to become a Suburb Expert, it will take you at least 3 months of online research, house inspections, attending auctions, speaking with Real Estate Agents.
You will have put in the hard yards, but it will be worth it when you buy the right property.
Here are my 4 tips to help you become a Suburb Expert.
- Open for inspection are a great way to gather information
- Sharpen your auction skills and know your competition
- Make sure the Real Estate Agent remembers you!
- Do you know where the locals get their coffee?
By doing your homework thoroughly you will get to know your chosen suburb(s) really well.
You will know which properties have sold, the price they sold, why a certain property hasn’t sold, the condition of the property, the Agent who sold it, the level of interest from other buyers, who is attending the auctions (i.e who is your competition) etc.
1. Open for inspections are a great way to gather information
Sit down on Friday night and organise your plan of attack for Saturday.
Unfortunately, most of us work during the week and a lot of open for inspections are scheduled for Saturday which tends to be the busiest time of the week. There is no way around this and spending 15 – 20 minutes in each property is not ideal.
However, when you are starting out, it’s good way to see a whole bunch of properties quickly. When you are up to speed with the current properties listed for sale, which will probably take a few weeks, you can be more selective about which properties to inspect.
At each inspection, the Real Estate Agent will give you a booklet or flyer about the property – take it.
If there is a copy of a floor plan or anything else – take it.
At the end of your Saturday inspections you will end up with a pile of paperwork. Keep everything together in a property folder to use later as research and reference material.
When you are at the inspection, use the booklet or flyer to write notes about the property.
I’ll bet that after inspecting half a dozen or more properties in a day you’ll feel pretty numb. It will be your notes will help jog your memory about which properties you liked and why, and which properties you didn’t like and why.
Put everything together in your property folder and refer back every couple of weeks. If a property that you inspected has sold, record the sale price and how long it took to sell (days on market).
The other tip when you are at an inspection is to take lots and lots of photos. Not only will the photos help jog your memory, they will be your extra set of eyes for things that you did not see during the inspection.
Out of courtesy to the Owner’s privacy, I always ask permission before taking photos.
Remember, you don’t need to photograph the furniture or the home styling. After the property is sold, everything will be gone except the kitchen, bathrooms, floors, walls and windows. Best to concentrate on that instead.
2. Sharpen your auction skills, know your competition
Attend as many auctions as you can.
An auction will give you feedback on the level of demand (or lack of) in the area and the prices buyers are willing to pay. Quite often you will see the same groups of people from one property to the next. This is your competition.
By attending different auctions in the suburb, (even if you are not particularly interested in a property), it will give you a good chance to become familiar with the whole auction process. It can be very daunting bidding at auction in front of people. However, there are many techniques to be the successful bidder at an auction (apart from just having the most money). So, go to the auctions and watch closely at how it’s done.
3. Make sure the Real Estate Agent Remembers you!
A good Real Estate Agent will have an active list of property buyers who they can call when a property comes up for sale.
So firstly, you need to get on their active buyer list. The Real Estate Agent needs to know exactly what you are looking for (house, apartment etc), beds/baths/garages, of course your budget, the location and any specific – like being within walking distance to the local school.
Real Estate Agents are in the habit of forgetting who you are or mistakenly losing your mobile number. So secondly, it’s your job to (politely) remind them that you are still actively looking in the market and to please let you know if something comes up. You can either send the Agent an email every couple of weeks to remind them. Often you will bump into the same Agents at open for inspections which is a good time to remind them of your buying intensions. Otherwise, just pick up the phone.
A Real Estate Agent will take you more seriously if you are ‘ready to go’. To an Agent, this means you have your finances approved and your deposit sitting in a bank account. (Hopefully you actually have your finance and deposit ready – if you don’t, go organise this immediately!).
4. Do you know where the locals get their coffee?
The only way to get to know a suburb well is to spend time in the suburb and do what the locals do.
Visit and eat at the local cafe, stop by the supermarket, walk through the local schools on the weekend, walk around the neighbourhood.
I think that spending time walking around a neighbourhood is a great way to become familiar with the suburb. Take a chance and speak to one of the neighbours about the area and house you are looking to buy. Sometimes the neighbour can be the best source of information.