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Expert advice to avoid bill shock

Property

Expert advice to avoid bill shock

Buying your first home is an exciting milestone, but it’s worth thinking ahead to avoid unwanted expense.

While you might be worried about the big elements when buying a home – location, size, and cost – first homebuyers should also ask their agent questions about living costs to avoid bill shock once they take ownership.

With lenders approving a record $33.9 billion in new housing loans in Australia, the number of dwellings financed by first homebuyers reached the highest level in seven and a half years in August 2017.

The nation is also going through somewhat of an energy crisis with power bills set to rise adding more pressure to household expenses.

So what should first homebuyers be looking for when purchasing their first home so they can ensure energy-efficiency as well as manageable and affordable utility bills?

First National Coastal general manager Shane Dawes says it is about looking at the property inside and out and considering that bigger is not necessarily better.

“There are three factors first homebuyers should explore – the property itself, swimming pools come with hidden maintenance costs; the area’s infrastructure, local amenities, childcare, schools, beaches; and using your real estate agent’s local knowledge,’’ he says.

“They’ll have the local expertise when it comes to rates, bills and the community as a whole.

“Your real estate agent is your local expert and will know what the approximate costs of living in the area are.

Ask questions about bills, suppliers and local businesses that are important to residents of the area.”

THE QUESTIONS TO ASK TO AVOID SURPRISE COSTS

• Is there airconditioning and is it throughout the house or isolated to one area – what are the running costs?
• Does it have a swimming pool. If so, what are the running costs?
• Are solar panels fitted?
• Does it have a high or low maintenance garden to reduce water bill pressure?
• Does it have a clothesline to ensure you can dry clothes naturally and reduce dryer bills?
• What rooms face east and face west to maximise morning and afternoon sun?
• Are there trees around the property and do they provide shade?
• Are blinds or screens installed on the windows to block sun?
• Think about appliances. A dishwasher might seem like a bonus but can you afford to use it?
• Are there rainwater tanks?
• Which energy source powers the property’s heating?
Source: First National Coastal general manager Shane Dawes

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