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Buying Property in Perth
It's now been over 3 weeks since my partner and I moved into our new home. The move was a long time coming, 8 months of searching, reading, planning and stressing, finally bringing a result we will hopefully be happy with for a long time to come. In the process of finding our place, there are a few very valuable websites and pointers I thought I'd share for those people out there looking at buying a property to live in, in Perth, or other parts of Australia.
The main two Online Agency's are www.realestate.com.au and www.domain.com.au. This is probably a good place to start looking (newspapers are difficult to read and make fingers dirty). Use the 'Refine Search' features of these sites to really nail it down to what you're looking for. When you do find a few that you like, consider actually going to the agent's website and seeing their own listing of the property - sometimes it can be listed for a different price (which is something you want to be sure on), and they also usually have more photo's and other info.
Street View by Google Maps
Just about all the streets of cities and towns in Australian are street-viewed by Google Maps. Keep in mind that the street view footage is from about late 2007, so things may have changed a bit since then. It is good however to get an unbiased view of the front of the house, the neighbours, and see how close that bus or train stop really is.
For geeks, wow addicts, and leechers (i.e. most people these days) having a decent internet connection is paramount. It takes a bit of an understanding (not rocket science though) of how ADSL technology works to get the full picture.
Basically the further away from a telephone exchange you are, the slower your connection speed. The following charts explain things a bit better: Netcomm's Speed Chart and Internode's Distance/Speed Chart.
So when looking for a place, you should try work out which exchange you'll be on, and then the distance from this exchange. When working out the distance, remember its the actual line length, not 'as the bird flys'. So expect the line to go along any main roads, and/or around any landmarks.
A great website that plots the telephone exchanges in Google Maps around Australia and shows what speeds other people are getting (heatmaps) is the website adsl2exchanges.com.au - its superb! Another good site is the TPG Heatmap system, which feeds directly into their own database of telephone exchanges and connection speeds.
Another thing you've got to watch out for, is the Pair Gains, and RIM's - these are technologies that Telstra has setup in some high density living properties to extend normal telephone services with less copper to more people. There's a guide over on Whirlpool that explains it all very well, check it out here: RIM & Pair Gain FAQ. It's difficult to know for sure if a property is on Pair Gains/RIM's, but there is a feature on the adsl2exchanges.com.au website that shows where they are approximately.
Consider a Mortgage Broker
It's easy to go to any bank and ask for a loan. The problem is, the banks operate in their own interests. A better approach is to go to a Mortgage Broker who can recommend to you which banks have the best offering based on your individual circumstances, such as deposit size, the repayments you can afford, length of employment, and so on. Most good Mortgage Brokers will give you an unbiased recommendation - they are actually obligated by law to show you what commissions they get from all banks they have on offer. If you're in the Perth, WA region, and looking for a good mortgage broker, feel free to contact me, and I'll recommend to you who I used.
Don't rush anything! The average time it takes for a West Australian to find a property (for living, not investment) is 6 months, so you should at least spend that much time looking! If your a first home buyer, ask you friends, and family how they did things, and learn from their mistakes! Its a decision your going to live with for at least a few years (until you buy your next place), so take the time to find the right place, and Good Luck!