Moving to Canberra?

How to buy a home in Canberra and the ACT when moving

Where to start? Look at many different suburbs and see what they offer. When you have chosen suburbs which have particular appeal then study what homes in that area are selling for. It is worth making comparisons based on land size, special features, school zone, direction of property, transport options and the other homes in the street. When you have decided on a home you would like to live in then you might wish to engage an independent valuer who will check for you whether there is anything in planning which may devalue your property as well as data comparison which will indicate the true worth of the property. You should be able to find a registered valuer on the database of the the Valuers Registration Board or the Australian Property Institute. In ACT the owner arranges a pre-purchase property inspection and you can buy this.

Finance is the next step. You should allow for usually 10% of the purchase price for the deposit which will be paid immediately after the auction or when you have signed the contract. You will also need to allow for stamp duty, legal fees, mortgage fees, reimbursement of property inspection fees, general rates and water rates, moving costs and then insuring your home. If you are buying a home that is part of a body corporate then you will also need to allow for body corporate fees as well.

In ACT you will usually buy a home by private sale or by auction. The auction process a good one as everyone can see how the bidding is going but remember there is no cooling off period as there is for a purchase through private sale. It is recommended to go along to a few auctions beforehand to see what the process is. Be very sure that you have a figure in mind before the start of the auction and stick to it as this is the figure you have come up with after working out your finances. Once you have won the auction you can not then find a reason for not proceeding: you must proceed. Before the auction ask the agent for the contract of sale and ask a solicitor to check this for you . As the auction commences, the auctioneer will read out the terms of the auction. Occasionally the auctioneer will begin with a vendor bid which is usually below the reserve price in order to begin or improve the auction. Should the auction fail to reach the reserve price yet you were the highest bidder you will be able to negotiate with the agent. If you win the auction or negotiate afterwards you will be asked to provide a deposit which can be paid by bank cheque or personal cheque . The deposit will be 10%.

If you are choosing a home which is to be sold by private sale then there is a different process. If you make an offer you will be asked to pay a deposit which is refunded if the vendors do not agree to your offer. The contract of sale becomes a legally binding document when both you and the vendors sign the contract. You must then pay your deposit of 10% and you will then have a one week cooling off period.

Settlement day is usually four to six weeks after exchange of contracts and this is when you will pay everything in full. Remember to insure your property from this date.

Moving to Canberra? Canberra and the ACT: renting a property

Furnished and unfurnished homes.

No matter whether you are looking at furnished or unfurnished homes there are some things which are basic requirements which you will find in all homes: means of cooking, means of heating, window coverings and a means of keeping yourself clean (bath or shower). In an unfurnished house this is all you can expect although in more expensive homes you obviously will see additions to this such as built in microwaves, coffee machines, air conditioners, swimming pools and so forth. In a furnished property you would expect to find bedroom furniture, white goods, dining furniture, lounge suites and TV but in a fully furnished you would expect to find all the things which you might find in a serviced apartment: all of the above plus bed linen, towels, cushions, cutlery, crockery, cooking implements and iron and ironing board, vacuum etc. Be very careful that you note this difference as you might otherwise be caught out.

What are the usual lease terms?

You will find landlords want the longest possible lease and in Canberra where properties are in such short supply they will usually get them. In such a competitive market offer as long a lease as you can. Some fully furnished properties may be happy with a three month lease but generally six months is more usual. Unfurnished properties expect a lease of a year or more.

How much do you pay if you break your lease?

If you have a diplomatic clause in your lease which allows you to break your lease if your employer moves you overseas or interstate then you will only need to give sufficient notice. If not then you will be responsible for rent if you choose to leave before the end of the lease until someone takes over your lease. You may also need to pay a re-letting fee which is usually a couple of weeks rent as well as the advertising costs The landlord is responsible for making sure that he advertises seriously not to disadvantage you as the incumbent tenant.

Do you pay brokerage?

There is no brokerage in ACT

Do you pay monthly maintenance charges?
In ACT the tenant is not responsible for additional monthly maintenance fees, rates or building insurance.

What payments are due for a rental property?
The expected amount payable to secure a rental property is one calendar monthís rent and a rental bond which is usually the equivalent of four weeks rent. The bond is a landlordís protection against damage and is lodged with the Office of Rental Bonds.

When do you pay rent?
Rent is payable in advance often two weeks ahead for periodic tenancies.

The lease
You will be given copies of the lease contract to sign. The lease contract explains the terms on which you are renting the property, what rent you must pay and also the period of tenancy. You will also be given a booklet, The Renting Book, explaining your rights as a tenant.

Outline of the condition of the property
When you move into your property you will be given a report of its condition, sometimes called an inventory, in duplicate. Check this very carefully and then sign the copies, keeping one for yourself and one for the agent to be returned within two weeks. This will form the comparison which is the basis for your return of bond at the end of your tenancy.

Use the map by clicking on the various City Councils of Canberra. You will then be given information about the various suburbs and facilities, local schools and transport. This should help you to pinpoint the areas you may want to focus on. If the maps dont work in your browser click here
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