If only…

Good advice given too late can be as welcome as a scented candle for Christmas. So, for those of you planning to embark on a property-related adventure this year, here is some advice from those who wished they’d known then what they know now.

Use a property lawyer

Jason Scott, from Tipsta, urges anyone who’s looking to buy a property to use an experienced property lawyer rather than a conveyancer. Jason’s plans to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Northcote were almost derailed when the bank used a different method of calculating the size of the property to the builder, which reduced the amount they were prepared to lend him from 90 per cent to 80 per cent of the purchase price.

“We had to come up with another 10 per cent for the deposit and do that fairly quickly,” Jason says. “The whole process was extremely stressful.”

Be selective with your property manager

With professional property managers engaged to look after her three investment properties, Maureen Pound had been happy to take a “hands off” approach until she received a call advising her of issues relating to her Port Melbourne apartment.

She was appalled to learn not only that her tenants were suffering health issues and property damage due to mould, but that they had reported the problem five months earlier and the property manager had failed to act – or inform Maureen.

“(The property management company) have all this high tech online information, from the surface it looks really good, but I guess I didn’t ask enough questions or make a good decision to go with them in the first place.”

Be very selective when appointing a property manager, Maureen advises.

Be open to new ways of doing things

Phoebe and Russell Cameron were keen to stay and rebuild on their inner-city block when the existing home had passed its use-by date, but access to their irregular-shaped land made traditional building unrealistic.

Undaunted, the enterprising couple investigated their options and decided to have their new home, over two-levels, pre-built, with its modules lifted into place by crane like giant pieces of Lego. Two years on, Phoebe says she wouldn’t change a thing. “It’s a terrific way of doing it, especially if you have site constraints like we did.”

Phoebe’s advice to others is to consider designing a pre-built home, and make sure you put a lot of thought into the design.

“Have a think about how you want to live in the home.”

Be prepared for bureaucracy

Budget was the key driver for James Kahnbach when he decided relocating a house from Melbourne was preferable to having one built on his property in Maldon.

While James was very pleased with the result, a cosy three-bedroom home that was originally part of the 1950s Olympic Village in Heidelberg, he was shocked at the time and energy it took to deal with trades people and council bureaucracy.

He cautions others who are considering the same tactic to prepare themselves for endless paperwork.

“Getting the house here was the easy bit.”

Seize the day

Yolanda and Russell Forte planned to sell their South Gippsland property when they retired but, thinking selling would take a couple of years, they decided to treat themselves to a spa in the meantime.

The couple quickly became spa devotees, so when their home sold within eight weeks, they got back on the phone to Endless Spas to order another one for their new property. Russell says they regularly use the swim jets and the four-seater spa with family and friends.

“We use it 12 months of the year. If we knew then what we know now, we would have bought it years ago,” Russell says.

Posted by Kate Robertson – The Age on 6th January, 2015