What property should I buy?

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked by clients questions like:

  • What property should I buy?
  • Should I buy an apartment of a house?
  • How much should I pay?
  • Is this a good price?
  • Is this a good area?

Having provided conveyancing services as part of my legal practice for over a decade, I’ve had the privilege of experiencing the property market through my clients as well as my own activities. I’ve ‘bought’ and ‘sold’ hundreds of property vicariously and those experiences have influenced some of my thinking. Of course I’m more than happy to lend a personal opinion, and even though it’s a personal opinion that has evolved over time, it’s still far from a professional opinion.

After all, from a professional perspective, I’m just a lawyer (and still practicing/practising – pun intended). I’m able to advise clients on the process and procedures, as well as the legal rights with respect to the property transaction or property ownership – but questions that go beyond that are not with my professional expertise, and I make that very clear to my clients.

Often, if I’m pressed for more than a personal opinion and clients want a definitive answer, I answer their question with a question. WHAT DO YOU WANT? Sounds annoying, but it’s a legitimate question to a question.

At the end of the day, that’s the key question that needs to be answered, isn’t it? If you don’t know what you want, no one else can nor should tell you – or at least that’s what I think.

What you buy and whether it’s suitable to you depends largely on your dreams or desires, your motivation or your plan, or even your stage in life. Everyone’s different, so what might be right for someone else won’t necessarily be right for you. If you’re buying for investment, you might be looking at a totally different property to what you’d look at if you’re buying your home. You might be looking at one kind of property if you’re single or a couple without kids, and another kind of property if you’ve got a family.

For anyone who’s not familiar with the property market or the property industry, there’s always the danger that you’ll sign a contract for something you don’t really want (perhaps because you were persuaded or influenced by an accomplished real estate agent). I guess that’s why in New South Wales, the law provides that a cooling off period applies to residential property purchased under private treaty. The cooling off period minimises the consequences of buyer’s regret. For more information regarding the cooling off period, have a look at some previous/related articles listed below.

On the other hand, if you really feel you need professional assistance there are professionals like some financial planners, or maybe real estate agents or more appropriately buyers-agents who can provide advice or at least help you clarify your property goals. Perhaps they’re the most appropriate professionals to be speaking to regarding property – especially if you don’t know and you need someone to help you work through those questions yourself (after all, you don’t know what you don’t know, right?).

So there you have it – as many of my clients would testify, I’m more than happy to share my personal views on buying or selling property. I haven’t done poorly through property, but I’m certainly no property tycoon (far from it). I’ve just got a modest property holding which I hope/plan to continue to grow over the years. My strategies are based on my personal and professional experiences but not formulated on anything too formal or complex.

If you’re still hungry like me, then the best advice is to really speak to as many people as you can. There are so many people involved in or ancillary to the property market. Aside from real estate agents, you have bankers and finance brokers, other lawyer and licenced conveyancers, accountants and tax agents, as well as builders and developers. I don’t think it matters how experienced or inexperienced you might think you are in buying or selling property, be open to learning something new and you never know what will come of it. I know I’m constantly learning from all the people around me and enjoying every moment. I’m sure you will too – and then maybe I’ll come and ask you ‘what property should I buy?’