How to keep your property obsession from eating up your weekend

If browsing real estate seems to be taking up more and more of your time, you’re not alone. According to new research from HSBC, Australians spend an average of 2.5 hours a week poring over the property market.

To put that in perspective, that’s more than twice the time the average Aussie spends at the gym (1.08 hours), and almost three times as much as we spend talking to our parents (0.88 hours).

“Buying a property is often the most significant purchase Aussies make,” said Alice Del Vecchio, Head of Mortgages for HSBC Australia.

“But it seems that some home buyers are taking their passion for the perfect home to the extreme.”

So whether you’re after your third investment property or you’re just looking to break into the market, here are some tips to make sure your house hunting obsession doesn’t take up too much of your weekend.

Get pre-approved for a mortgage

Few things will derail your property search more than having your heart set on a particular place only to learn that it far exceeds your borrowing capacity.

That’s why it’s always a good idea to get pre-approved for a mortgage before kicking things off. This is conditional approval offered by lenders which lays out how much you’ll likely be able to borrow. Just remember, it’s not a guarantee, and you’ll still have to finish the application to be sure of your loan.

Once you have an idea of how much your bank or lender is willing to fork out, you’ll be able to refine your search to include only those properties that fall within your budget.

And when it comes time to make an offer, having that pre-approval under your belt is a good way to signal that you’re serious about buying, potentially giving you an edge over the competition.

Make a list of your priorities

Do you have a clear idea of what you want in a home? If not, you’ll quickly find your search to be pretty drawn out and aimless.

To avoid this, start by making a list of essential features, some nice-to-haves, and some property deal breakers. Keep these in mind whenever you view a home online and evaluate each one according to how many of your preferences it satisfies.

At the same time, you shouldn’t write off a property just because it doesn’t conform 100% to the idealised version you have in your head, especially considering many things can always be added later on.

It pays to be a bit flexible — buying a much cheaper home without the back patio you've always dreamt of and doing a reno yourself may work out to be more cost effective than bidding on a picture perfect property.

Plan your viewing itinerary

If you’re viewing multiple homes in one outing, you’ll need to plan your day wisely. Try to visit your top picks first, and make sure to leave ample time for finding parking and getting to the next destination.

You also don’t want to rush through a viewing. Unless you’re completely put off by a house from the get-go, it pays to spend some time getting to know it. 

Open cupboards, inspect the floors, and make sure all the lighting and other fixtures work. If you have some extra time, try to scope out the surrounding area too.

Spend time comparing home loans

You don't want to put all this time and effort into choosing a home and then get stuck with an expensive home loan that's not right for you.

Just like finding the right property, finding the right home loan requires a good deal of research. And there are plenty of things you’ll need to consider beyond the interest rate. For example, what’s your preferred LVR? And is an offset account something you could make use of?

Our home loan comparison tool is a great place to start. Just put in the amount you want to borrow and the length of the loan term you’re after for a look at some quality borrowing options.