Buying Real Estate in the Northern Territory
All you need to know when buying a home in the Northern Territory
Between its wide expanses of outback and the thriving city of Darwin, the Northern Territory offers great opportunities for buying real estate. However, there is a wide range of particulars you will have to contend with, much of it specific to this very territory. Here is what you need to know about buying NT property.
Ways to buy NT property
With multiple different ways of buying NT property available to you, it can be difficult to work out which is going to be most appropriate for your finances and your goals. Your local LJ Hooker real estate agent can be useful in helping you decide, but we also have here a brief overview of these methods.
Buying NT property through private treaty is an ongoing negotiation with the vendor or their agent, where you both try to find a price on the property that suits both of you. This is usually based around the listed price, which the vendor and their agent determined together. Once an agreement is reached, you have a cooling-off period of four business days in which you can pull out of the deal.
The NT government has more information here on making an offer and here on how to buy NT property.
Auctions are one-off events with a marketing campaign building up to them. You register to bid, and compete against others to end the process with the highest bid. There is a reserve price, which is the lowest the home can sell for in the bidding - the highest offer above reserve wins the property.
If bids do not reach the reserve the home "passes in", and the highest bidder may negotiate with the vendor. There are no conditions or cooling-off periods when you buy NT property at auction, so it is very important to be prepared and have a 10 per cent deposit ready on the day.
At tender, there is no listed or reserve price. Rather, you make an offer of your own estimation, accompanied by a deposit of about 10 per cent. The vendor then decides whether to accept it - they do not have to approve any offers.
Buying off-the-plan is a process wherein you buy a property, often a unit or apartment, that is part of a yet-to-be-built development. Prices can be lower than with other methods, but the building time can blow out significantly.
Clearly, there are many ways to purchase property in the Northern Territory - you'll need to find the one that suits you.
Financing a property purchase in NT: how much can you afford?
First of all, you need to work out your borrowing power for buying NT property. You will need a deposit, which is normally 10 to 20 per cent of the total purchase price, otherwise you may have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance.
Your capacity to make home loan repayments is also going to fuel your purchasing power. When sorting out finance for buying NT property, speak to LJ Hooker Home Loans - they can help you work out a budget, and give you a clearer idea of how much you can feasibly borrow.
You may also wish to get pre-approval, which will give you a concrete figure on how much you can spend. This is particularly important if you are buying at auction in NT.
Hidden costs of buying NT property
In addition to the price of the NT property you want to buy, there are many other hidden costs you need to factor into your budget:
- Stamp duty ($16,514 on a $400,000 purchase but this scales with price - for example, on a $500,000 home it is $23,928);
- Local council rates (at least $1,000 per year for the bulk of Darwin City Council postcodes);
- Legal and conveyancing fees (between ($1,500 and $3,000 depending on how much paperwork is required - usually includes title search and conveyancing);
- Loan establishment fees (usually $1,000 but these may be waived under certain circumstances);
- Pest and building inspections ($400 to $600);
- Moving costs ($500 to $3,500 depending on the distance);
- A fidelity fund certificate if you are building property (5 per cent of your building contract cost);
- Lenders Mortgage Insurance (allow for up to $10,000 if your deposit is less than 20 per cent of total price); and,
- Building insurance and home and contents insurance (depends on your insurer).
There can be rebates if you are a senior or if the property is going to be your principal place of residence - the NT government has more information on this.
Finding NT property to buy
When you need to find the right NT property to buy, you are going to have to conduct some extensive market research. Fortunately, the internet can provide you with the bulk of what you need:
- Domain.com.au, realestate.com.au and ljhooker.com.au have extensive and up-to-date listings, giving you a clear idea of entry price points and what kind of properties are available.
- Australian Property Monitors, Residex, SQM Research and CoreLogic RP Data can give more generic market information, including median values, total listings, and updates on property market trends.
- LJ Hooker Open Market report gives a regional snapshot of the property market, and your local LJ Hooker office can provide in-depth local market reports.
This gives you and understanding of how local markets work, and may also shape your NT property search with regards to whether you want to buy a house, unit, granny flat or something else altogether.
Where to look
Once you have an idea of what you want and what you can afford, it can be a great time to join forces with a buyers' agent. LJ Hooker has dedicated and professional teams that can scour the market for you, finding you exactly what you need, which saves you time and relieves stress.
It also gets you a highly qualified professional with in-depth market knowledge working directly for you - what more could you want?
The importance of inspections
The building inspection is a crucial part of your home buying process in NT. This is where any faults or defects can be identified, so you know exactly what you are buying. You may even be able to secure a lower price or get the vendor to conduct renovations if any issues are found.
No home purchase is complete without the full inspection - it will inform exactly what goes into the contract of sale.
The NT buying process
In a private treaty sale, negotiations ensue between you and the vendor or their agent. When you both reach a satisfactory figure, you exchange contracts of sale, which include any conditions - for example, the transaction going ahead only once finance is approved or the home passes an inspection.
You also have four business days to cool off from the sale, but doing so may still incur a fee. You should also provide a deposit of 10 per cent of the purchase price when contracts are exchanged, which is held in a trust account until settlement.
With no cooling-off period and no conditions, you must pay the deposit and organise contracts of sale on the day of the auction - if it passes reserve. You may still negotiate with the vendor if the sale does fall through.
This is where pre-approval for a home loan is crucial.
Contracts of sale
This is the most important document in the NT buying process. Your contract of sale includes details of the buyer, seller, agents, conveyancers and solicitors involved in the process. It also outlines the particulars of the sale, title details, the building condition report, where deposits will be held, and special details of the sale - for example, if you want to move in early.
It is highly recommended to use a solicitor or conveyancer to go over all of the paperwork, as this can be very complicated. Once contracts are exchanged and signed, the settlement process begins.
Settlement of NT property
Settlement of your NT property purchase normally takes between 30 and 90 days. This is when inspections can occur, final finance approvals are given, and all documents are prepared. The final day is the settlement date, upon which the home is officially transferred to you, the remainder of the property price is paid, and you can move into your new home.
Congratulations, you have just bought NT property!