If you haven't found your dream home yet, don't panic

Mal JamesOctober 26, 20110 min read

You’re a $1 million-plus family home buyer. Super Saturday (October 22) has been and gone and you didn’t manage to buy yourself a home from the 150 or so properties that were on offer. What now? With the Melbourne Cup break coming up, it’s time to a) assess your form b) assess your goals c) improve your decision-making processes and/or d) panic.

Let’s start with d) panic. As a home buyer you effectively have a month to find a home or else you probably won’t be settled in a new place until at least Easter 2012. That is six months away, well into the next school year and – oh my god – the footy will have already started again. Six months more of your family unsettled and in limbo. Have you broken into a cold sweat yet?

Well stop it, right now. Take a deep breath and don’t panic. Panic only encourages one thing – poor decisions. Poor buying decisions now will give you and your family weaker long-term outcomes – both financially and emotionally. Poor decisions can lead you to buy the wrong home or miss out on the home you should have bought. Panic leads to weaker negotiating stances.

With four weeks to go and with no obvious target home, the first thing to consider is an alternative home strategy. You could rent, move into a holiday house, move in with family, or buy an interim home. The key to getting temporary family shelter is not perfection but it does have to be comfortable. You want to be in a home that is not going to add stress that will encourage panic and lead to forced decisions – instead of waiting for the right 10-20 year family home.

Assess your form: If you were a racehorse would you back yourself at the next start to win after your last few months of home-buying performances? Have you missed the podium each time the auction race was on?  Was it because you didn’t get the values right, which meant you were shocked by the result every time? Even if you knew how much you needed to pay, did you miss out because you just didn’t perform when it counted? Truthfully assess your skills and your shortcomings and plug the holes either with alternative strategies or some professional assistance – otherwise you will get the same result.

Assess your goals: It’s possible you may not have actually found a home you have wanted to buy yet. You are not alone. We have been in a low-quality stock environment all year and even as professionals we have found it hard sometimes to find good homes to buy. That’s not the case right now, but it has been. However, your goals still may need some tweaking – especially if money seems to be front and centre of almost every family discussion. You may have $3 million tastes with a $2 million budget. You may have bought into what the papers have been saying about the world coming to end, yet the homes you like have three or four bidders and your buy cheap policy is not working. Whatever it is – take a look at what it is you really want. Write down your three Ps – Price, Property and Position – and then get a suburb report of the last 12 months sales and see if there are any homes within your price range. This will give you a clear idea of how realistic your current goals are.

Finally, improve your decision making processes: This can be in the form of DIY improvements or by getting some professional help. A process that will lead to informed and good decisions is 1) clarity of purpose – know what it is you want and match the home to your goals not the other way around. 2) Accurate assessment of a home as to value and whether it meets your needs and 3) planned and professional negotiation to maximise your chance of success within acceptable risk and reward parameters.

You have four weeks after Melbourne Cup to do some things that will make your life better for the next decade. Whatever those actions are base them on good decisions and on clear goals that will result in your family’s best long-term emotional and financial outcomes – and get on with it!

Mal James is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million. Mal writes weekly auction reports, advice and in-depth market analysis on James' website.

Mal James

Mal James is principal of James Buyer Advocates, which advocates on behalf of buyers of property over $1 million.
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