Feb '24

Tips to Try Before You Buy
Posted by
First National Real Estate

From sampling ice cream flavours at your local creamery to leaving the paint shop armed with test pots or signing up for a trial at the gym before committing to a membership, there are plenty of decisions in life – big and small – where trying before you buy makes sense. And for many reasons, it’s also a great idea to apply this tactic to homeownership.

Purchasing a home is a huge decision, and aside from the physical property itself, getting a feel for the surrounding community, amenities, and pockets of desirability within the neighbourhood is nearly impossible without spending a decent amount of time embedded within the area. And if they’re overlooked, you could end up falling out of love with your dream suburb. Here, we look at the benefits of trying before you buy and outline different approaches for dipping your toe into a neighbourhood without committing to purchase.

Why try before you buy?

The concept of ‘trying before buying’ generally involves renting in your chosen area before purchasing. It allows you to make a much more informed decision, helps you avoid getting swept up in the romanticism of a new property purchase, and ensures that you’ll be happy in your new home over the long term. Here are four key reasons to try before you buy: 
  • Get to know the neighbourhood

Shopping for a new home often involves a quick 30-minute open home, sometimes followed by a brief stroll around the neighbourhood. At an open home, your primary focus will be on the house itself, making it easy to overlook potentially deal-breaking factors like peak hour traffic, proximity to amenities, noise levels and the feel of the local community. By living in the neighbourhood before buying, you’ll have plenty of time to explore and understand if the community is a good fit for you.
  • Deeper understanding of market values

Browsing online can provide a wealth of factual information on sales history, capital values and suburb insights, making it a fantastic starting point. However, nothing beats being immersed in the neighbourhood. You’ll be able to verify if the listed price is reasonable based on the location and current local market trends and gain a deeper understanding of micro trends like desirable streets, upcoming development projects and walkability.
  • Compare the pair

If you’re weighing up multiple options, trying before buying can help your decision-making. You’ll be able to weigh up the pros and cons of each property based not only on the home itself but also on the enjoyment you’ll get from living in the area. You’ll feel more confident in your decision to purchase and are less likely to face any surprises or disappointments after the fact.
  • Consider rental offset

If you already own a home, consider renting it out while you dip your toe in a new neighbourhood. Engage a local property manager to take care of your home while you explore potentially greener pastures. This will allow you to explore your dream suburb while maintaining the security of your property to fall back on.

How to try before you buy

Traditionally, trying out your dream suburb involves renting a property and testing the waters. This can be done by:
  • Rent to own

This type of agreement generally involves leasing the property for a nominated price and time frame before purchasing the property outright on an agreed later date. In some cases, you have the option to terminate the agreement. Renting to own can make sense financially if you cannot afford the purchase initially. As far as options go, this is fairly serious, with the least amount of flexibility.
  • Short-term rental agreement or staycation

Simply finding a rental and staying there for 6 to 12 months allows you to assess if the area is for you without fully committing to something like a rent-to-own agreement. Similarly, on an even less committed note, going for a neighbourhood staycation is a great way to scope the scene without committing to a full-scale move.
If rent to own, renting, or a staycation is still too much commitment, we recommend carving time out of your schedule and making regular trips to the area. While you’re there, be sure to:
  • Frequent some hot spots

Whether it’s a local gym, garden, park, or shopping centre, frequenting local amenities will help you get a feel for the area and the people within it. Ensure you visit on weekdays and weekends for a more complete picture of the area over different time periods.
  • Pound the pavement

Walking a neighbourhood is one of the best ways to get familiar with a suburb. It’ll help you understand whether walking to amenities like schools, libraries, or shopping centres is possible. If a sense of community is a priority, you’ll quickly notice how many locals greet you as you stroll.
  • Get chatting

There’s nothing quite like hearing it first-hand from the locals. Strike up conversations for valuable insight into things you won’t always find online, like underlying issues, upcoming developments, community events and experiences with schooling in the area. Your local First National Real Estate agent is also on hand to provide you with local market insights and guidance – we have staff hailing all across the Border from Beechworth, Wodonga, Rutherglen, Leneva, Barnawartha, Albury, Thurgoona and Table Top, all ready to share on-the-ground expertise!

Trying before buying leads to intelligent, informed decision-making

Whether you rent, are a serial staycationer or are a frequent visitor, familiarising yourself with your dream suburb will help you confirm just that – that it is indeed your dream suburb.
For more assistance and local expertise, get in touch! No matter which part of the Border region you're interested in, we’ll provide insights, advice, and guidance in finding the perfect property for you.


The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial, or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial, or real estate decisions.

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