Buying Tips & Checklist

Buying a house is exciting – but it can also be daunting with so many questions to ask and answer. At Ferry Property, we work to help you through the maze so you feel confident in making one of the biggest financial decisions of your life.

As with any major expenditure, it’s important to seek down-to-earth advice from people who can provide the right information and have excellent local knowledge. We’ll work hard to meet your needs and requirements, while offering you information on areas such as financing, current legislation and building regulations.

Ferry Property offers some tips below and a Buyer’s Checklist to help you through the buying process. We’re also happy to answer any questions you might have to help you find your dream home.

What you should ALWAYS do when buying a property

  1. Shop around for the best mortgage rates. If you have a good credit rating, you should get competitive quotes. Also find out about appraisal fees, buy-out fees, payment options, penalties and mortgage portability.
  2. Obtain pre-approval from your bank or mortgage broker, so you know the level of financing for which you qualify. This helps you define your property search price and gives you an edge when making an offer.
  3. Get professional building and pest inspections. If defects are found, you may be able to negotiate the purchase price to cover repairs or require the homeowner to remedy identified problems.
  4. Get a strata report if you’re buying an apartment. This will show you the records of the strata scheme, which can include any special levies proposed in the future that you may be required to contribute to, a history of the building’s maintenance work, as well as the amount of money in the sinking and administration funds.
  5. Make sure you know all the costs involved. Some costs you might not have considered include transfer tax, property taxes, legal fees, rates, appliances and blinds or curtains.
  6. Sell before you buy. Selling your current home before you buy means you know exactly what you can afford, avoids the need for bridging loans and allows you to make an unconditional offer when you find your dream home.
  7. Always make sure you understand before you sign. It’s best to have your solicitor or conveyancer review the contract before you sign an offer to purchase or exchange.

What can I afford?

You need to work out what repayments you can afford. Generally, lenders will fix an amount at a set percentage of your gross (pre-tax) income. If you know what you can afford, this helps refine your search. And don’t forget to ask us whether you may qualify for government grants.

What type of property?

Before you begin searching online or inspecting properties, you should develop a list of crucial requirements for your property. Some of the questions you should ask include:

  • Do you want to live in a particular area?
  • Do you want a house, unit, townhouse or villa?
  • How many bedrooms?
  • How many bathrooms?
  • What size kitchen do you need?
  • Do you want a garden or a terrace?
  • Do you need car space, garage or street parking?
  • Are you prepared to undertake repairs or renovations?
  • Do you want good access to facilities such as schools, doctor, medical centres, public transport, shops, parks and recreational spaces?
  • Do you have problems with traffic or noise?
  • Do you have family needs such as children, the elderly or disabled?
  • Do you have pets to consider?
  • Will you be concerned about security?
  • Do you mind future development in the area?

All these requirements need to be considered, so that the property you're looking for meets your needs and your lifestyle. If you’re looking for an investment property, consider what you would expect as a tenant.

The first step is research

  • Find out what is available at both ends of your price range.
  • Attend auctions in your preferred area.
  • Go to open houses to find out what is available.
  • Contact your Ferry Property agent for a research profile on the suburb.
  • Start your search early
  • Research your market using websites like,, and

Choosing your property

Inspection times are usually displayed on the marketing material. With open house inspections, you can view the property at set dates and times. With inspection by appointment, you need to arrange a time to inspect the property.

Take your checklist to any inspections, and make notes about the property. You may need to compromise in some areas, as no property will ever be perfect. Making notes will help you work out the pros and cons for each property. Ask if you can take photos of the property as a reminder of features not shown in the brochures.

If you do fall in love with a property, make sure you still ask all the practical questions and that you stick to your budget. If your dream home goes to auction, it can also be wise to ask a friend or family member to bid on your behalf, so that you don’t get carried away.

Also, if the property is being sold at auction, your need to review the contract of sale and have building and pest undertaken before the auction. 

And remember – if you have a pre-approval for your loan or mortgage, you can act quickly. If you love it, it’s in your price range and you’ve done the checks - then get in first with your offer.

Making an offer and negotiation 

For a property that is for private treaty sale at a price:

  • We’ll submit all offers to the seller and conduct negotiations on your behalf.
  • The property remains on the market until an offer is accepted.
  • Your offer may include a specific end date.
  • Your offer can be made subject to finance.
  • Your offer can be made with specific items being omitted or included in the contract.
  • You can make an offer containing a deposit, before acceptance, to demonstrate your intention to purchase. (The balance of the deposit is paid after acceptance). Should your offer be declined, your deposit will be refunded.
  • An offer is not legally binding until both the buyer and the seller have signed the contract.

Once your offer has been accepted, you are required to pay the deposit as specified in the contract. The seller will then sign the offer document, making a contract that legally binds you to the sale. The contract may be subject to a statutory cooling-off period of five business days. We can explain how this works before you make an offer or bid at an auction.

Your deposit

Deposits must be banked in an official trust account on the day after they are received or the next business working day. If purchasing at auction, the holding deposit must be paid on the day or as stated in the contract. Real estate agents do not receive any interest or benefits from holding deposits on behalf of the seller.


There is a period between formal acceptance and settlement, when legal ownership is transferred. Settlement may involve the seller's bank releasing mortgages and your bank placing a mortgage over the property. Your solicitor or conveyancer will look after these and other necessary details for you.