Buying a house in Victoria involves research and careful consideration of all options. You want to make sure the property is the right price, location, value, size and lifestyle.
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House prices in Victoria vary widely from region to region. Choose your location and style of home based on what you can afford.
Once you've decided to buy, it is worth investigating different areas. Neighbouring suburbs can vary in price enormously, as can different properties in one suburb.
Before you buy you should look at what other buyers have paid for homes in that area. For a basic guide to the cost of housing in each major regional and metropolitan town, use our map of Victoria and navigate to the town you are interested in.
The following Median Home Prices provide a general guide to the cost of housing in Victoria:
|Median home prices - metropolitan Melbourne, (September quarter, 2012)|
|Units and apartments||$437,500|
|Median home prices - regional Victoria (September quarter, 2012)|
|City of Ballarat||$285,000|
|City of Greater Bendigo||$296,000|
|City of Greater Geelong||$365,500|
In Australia, houses are generally free-standing buildings, or attached buildings, but with no neighbours living above or below you.
Units and apartments
Units or apartments generally have at least two floors of homes in a building, so your neighbours may live beside, above or below you.
Houses and apartments may be as little as a few months old, or anywhere up to 150 years old. They may be made of brick, concrete, or timber (sometimes called weatherboard).
Homes usually include one to four bedrooms, a kitchen, one or two bathrooms, laundry and living space. Larger homes also include a second or third living area/dining room, and a garage or carport.
Houses and apartments are generally bought and sold through real estate agents, but you can also buy direct from the owner. To find real estate agents in your area, use the Real Estate Industry of Victoria's agency search tool.
You can find properties for sale in real estate listings in the major metropolitan, local and regional newspapers. There are also many websites available to help you find a home to buy. Websites include:
You can view a property for sale either by attending an advertised open for inspection or by appointment with the relevant real estate agent.
If you are buying a house or apartment, you may want it inspected by a builder or architect to see if there are any problems with the property. ArchiCentre and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) can inspect the property and provide you with a report for between A$350 and A$500.
If you are borrowing money to purchase a property, the lending organisation will usually have a valuer inspect the property prior to lending. However, you may also want to get an independent valuation. Cost varies depending on the property.
Most homes in Victoria are sold by private sale or by auction. Private sale means that you buy the property at the advertised price or negotiated price with the vendor (owner), either through a real estate agent or direct with the vendor themselves.
At auction, you compete with other bidders in an open forum. In this case, the 'selling range' provided by the real estate agent is only an indication, and properties often sell for higher than the advertised selling range. You can find property auction results on the Domain website and in major newspapers.
Whether a property is for private sale or auction, you might consider making an offer. This means that you put in writing an offer to buy the house. The seller of the house may choose to accept your offer, or may offer to negotiate, or may reject your offer.
Any offer you make is not legally binding until both you and the seller have signed a Contract of Sale or Contract Note.
Navigating your way through the property purchasing process can be difficult. You may chose to appoint a buyer's advocate to find properties that meet your requirements and/or to represent you at auction or at the negotiation table.
It is strongly recommended that you appoint a solicitor or qualified conveyancing agent to handle the legal paperwork associated with the purchase of your property, once your offer has been accepted.
Visit the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) legal referral service to find a solicitor in your area.
It is crucial that you organise finance before making an offer or bidding at auction. You must ensure that you can cover the deposit if your bid or offer is successful (a deposit is generally 10 percent of the purchase price), and have the remaining money available for settlement. Settlement of the property usually happens between 30 and 120 days after you buy the property.
As well as your deposit, you should allow money for:
Most Victorians take out insurance cover for their homes and belongings. There are many different companies offering insurance products.
For more information on comparing home and contents insurance providers visit the Canstar Cannex website.
Before moving into your home, you need to connect your utilities such as electricity, gas, water and telephone. The real estate agent can often refer you to different providers. For more information and a list of gas, electricity and water providers, visit the Essential Services Commission website or Your Choice website.
Most people borrow at least some of the cost of buying a house through a home loan.
There are a number of different options for borrowing money for your home including:
All lenders offer products with different features and conditions. Research carefully to understand the options available including in-built fees including exit fees and the interest structure (variable or fixed term).
It is also possible to find the right home loan through a mortgage broker. Mortgage brokers can compare different home loan products for you and make recommendations to suit your needs. They usually get paid a commission by home loan lenders - so you should check the information independently.
Once you've decided on a home loan product, you need to apply for a loan. If you are successful, most lenders will pre-approve your loan, so you know how much you can borrow before you begin house hunting. How much deposit they want will vary from lender to lender, but they may ask you to take out mortgage insurance if you are borrowing more than 80 percent of the property's value.
Online mortgage calculators can help you work out what you could borrow and how much it will cost you to repay the loan. These can be found on the following websites:
Australian permanent residents and citizens who are buying their first home in Australia are eligible for the First Home Owners Grant. On top of this, you may also be entitled to receive a stamp duty reduction. For more information about these grants, visit the State Revenue Office's website.
For more information about buying a property, download Consumer Affairs Victoria's booklet, Real Estate - A Guide for Buyers and Sellers (PDF - 1018KB).