Property advice could save you thousands

2nd Aug 2016By: Greville Pabst

Attitudes towards property have changed significantly over recent years. But, two truths remain universal; people require shelter, and buying property is the biggest investment most people make in their lives.

The average residential property in Australia currently costs buyers $918,000 (including interest) over 25 years. That’s for a $580,000 property in today’s terms – almost a million-dollar investment over several decades.

What’s perhaps most surprising is the fact that the majority of buyers spend this sum of money with a limited understanding of market fundamentals. In particular, the concept of capital growth and the factors that drive it for each individual property.

This DIY approach Australians have to buying property for occupation and investment is both dangerous and lacking in rigour – the biggest concern being ignorance to the risks associated with property selection.

While most buyers acknowledge they require a conveyancer for the legal aspects of the purchase, and may even get a building inspection to ensure structural integrity, few buyers consult a professional about the property itself, the risks associated with it, and how it stacks up as an investment. These are all important factors for wealth creation and protection.

While property experts like valuers report on the value of a property, a property adviser or buyer’s advocate focuses on performance over time, and how the property assists buyers to meet their lifestyle needs with their financial position in mind.

Like the conveyancer and building inspector, a property adviser protects the buyer’s interests – in this case protecting buyers from making a poor million-dollar investment decision and steering them, based on demonstrable evidence, towards an investment that not only avoids pitfalls but with the potential to perform better than most.

However, the problem is neither an awareness of the profession, nor a failure in understanding the potential of what a buyer’s advocate actually does. Rather, in most cases, it’s one of two things that prevents would-be buyers from engaging a professional from the outset.

First, an unwillingness to pay for advice. Despite the fact a property adviser can save buyers both time and money, some view the additional outlay of a few thousand dollars a deal breaker – even to avoid a million-dollar mistake which can take a lifetime to recover from.

Second, it’s the DIY approach of many Australians to buying property, where they assume the role of the property expert. But, like IT technicians, sales consultants, mechanics, doctors, hairdressers, chefs, lawyers, nurses and any other profession requiring study or on-the-job learning, property advisers have developed and refined their trade over the years, making them the expert in their chosen field.

The fact that most people balk at the idea of cutting their own hair and pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars a year for a professional to provide the service – yet spend a million dollars on property without the same hesitancy – is particularly baffling.

As human beings, we’ve thrived due to our sociability and ability to rely on each other to achieve shared goals. This doesn’t mean being an expert in everything, but more importantly, it means acknowledging the limitation of our knowledge and expertise and when to ask for help.

So, when buying your next property, ask yourself: “Do I know property like I know my profession?”

If the answer isn’t a resounding ‘yes’, it may be time to seek professional advice.