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How can preparation help you with real estate auctions?

By Michael Walkden


When it comes to buying a property at auction, one of the most common things you’ll hear is this: Do your homework. This makes total sense and anyone committing to any kind of real estate endeavour will know that there must be sufficient preparation beforehand.

CoreLogic RP Data’s monthly indices show that by the end of January, the average value of houses in Australian capital cities was $757,330. According to QV, this figure was was $669,091 NZD in New Zealand’s urban areas. Both are clearly large sums of money no one will throw away on a whim.

So, what does doing your due diligence and collecting research before auction day actually consist of?

Both New Zealand and Australia law indicates that once the hammer strikes, the home is unconditionally yours to own – for better or worse.

Inspect the site. Thoroughly.

Let’s say a few homes for sale on the street have caught your eye. Naturally, you’ll wander in and take a look at these properties. The important thing here is to be absolutely vigilant when inspecting them. The vendors would have prepared their homes in such a way that most viewers will see what the sellers want them to see.

However, both New Zealand and Australian laws indicate that once the hammer strikes, the home is unconditionally yours to own – for better or worse. This means that even if you suddenly realise that there’s a fist-sized hole in the ceiling, you can’t pull out, negotiate down the price or have the vendor pay for the damage. You are legally obliged to complete the transaction.

So during an open home inspection, be sure to look around every nook and cranny available. HSBC suggests that if you’re particularly intent on a property, it could be worth having it examined by a licensed inspector or architect.

Registering your interest

Found real estate in Australia or New Zealand that your heart is set on? In these circumstances, it’s imperative that you register your interest with the agent. This way, you’ll be notified if the auction date is brought forward. Don’t forget to ask the agent if the vendor is actually considering offers before the auction.

If the answer is yes, then this is even more important as you’ll want to be notified of any offers that other buyers are making pre-auction. You definitely don’t want your dream home to be snatched from right under your nose without getting the chance to at least counter-offer.

The reserve price of a home is not known to anyone except the vendor and agent

Studying the suburb

Before going to a home auction, you’ll always want to know what kind of price point you might be working with. While the capital value of a home or the expected price an agent advertises can shed some insight, they’re not always accurate. Furthermore, the reserve price of a home is not known to anyone except the vendor and agent, and will need a bit of well-informed guesswork to forecast.

Have a look at other homes in the neighbourhood and see what prices they’ve sold for recently. See if you can find properties that share similar features like size and bedroom counts to get a rough indication on what the one you’re after could sell for. Online tools like Property Value and QV, both by CoreLogic, offer online valuations that could also be useful.

Before auction day, you’ll want to have a loan organised and pre-approved.

Sorting out your finances

Before auction day, you’ll want to have a loan organised and pre-approved. If the hammer falls and you win the auction, you’ll need to pay the deposit immediately. If you’re buying real estate in Australia or New Zealand, this figure is usually 10 per cent. Then, once the rest of the balance is paid off, the sale is finalised.

Ensuring that your finances are handled before the auction will allow you to bid with peace of mind and avoid any potential legal issues.

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