Buying a property can be exciting and daunting at the same time. You have finally found what you think is the right home but are not sure what to do next. Now, it’s time for Property Market Research to find out if it’s going to be a good buy.
Most people will tell you that property is all about location, location, location. But in reality, it is way more complex than that. So I have put together my own step-by-step process for preparing, researching and negotiating a home in Brisbane.
Most importantly, we’ll answer the question: How much should you pay for a property?
We’ll take you through 12 steps on how to research a property online, with lots of free tools to help secure your home—as well as some bonus negotiation strategies and templates to use with real estate agents.
Table of Contents
Let’s use a real-life example.
A good mate of mine wants to buy 82 Charlotte Street Paddington, and he sent me this email.
1. Work out your property criteria
It’s easy to get excited about seeing new properties and even easier to quickly fall in love with a particular aspect of a home, like a kitchen or outdoor area, but it’s important to remain objective to make sure the property checks all of your boxes.
Property can be a largely emotional purchase, so you need to consider a few things before falling head over heels in love with a property:
- What is your “why” for buying this property? Is it to live in, or are you going to rent it out in the short term, what is the property’s main purpose?
- Do you want a detached house or a unit? If you’re buying a detached home, you can renovate, remodel, or even knock the whole thing down and rebuild a new home. You are a bit more limited with a townhouse or apartment, but you can still do some renovations to improve the interior of the property you buy.
- What size are you looking for? Do you want a single-storey or a two-storey home? How many bedrooms? How many bathrooms? Simon has 2 children so he definitely needs a minimum of 3 bedrooms. 82 Charlotte Street has 3 bedrooms.
- What style are you looking for? Do you want something modern or something with a little bit of heritage?
- What are the must-haves?The must-haves are the things that are essential. For example, if you have children or work from home, you’re probably going to want at least 3 bedrooms.
- What are the nice-to-haves? The nice-to-haves are the aspects of the property that would make it nicer to live in, but aren’t really essential. For example, a window seat.
- What are the deal breakers? The deal-breakers are the things that would make this property a hard ‘No’, no matter how good it is otherwise.
- Do you plan on staying in the property for a few years? Your first home is not likely to be your forever home, it is just your first step towards your future mansion!
- Can you afford repairs and upkeep on the property? If it is an older Queenslander-style property, have you budgeted for ongoing repairs and maintenance? Will it need a new kitchen and bathroom in the short term?
- If you bought the property, who would buy it from you in a few years? I like to start with the end in mind, when buying a property, I always think about who I will sell it to in a few years. If it’s going to be a very narrow market like retirees, is this going to harm the growth potential of the property?
Simon will use this checklist to determine whether 82 Charlotte Street is the best fit for him.
We recommend spending some time thinking about these things and creating what we call a “buyer brief”. A Buyer Brief is a document that spells out all of the different aspects of your ideal home. Preparing a Buyer Brief will make sure that you don’t miss any important things during your property search.
We have created a worksheet that will help you to create your buyer brief.
You can download a template of the buyer brief here: Download my buyer brief
2. Research your suburb & surrounding area
Even if you are familiar with a local area, it’s still worth taking into consideration the following:
- What street is the property on?
Buying a property on a good street is just as important as buying in a good suburb. Some streets can be too close to noise – such as train lines, schools, or main roads.
How long will it take to get to work?
Most property inspections are done on Saturdays when the traffic is much different from during the week when there are commuters going to work and kids being dropped at school.
Before buying a property, I check it out at least one morning before work around 8 am and again one evening around 5-5.30 pm to see if it is affected by rat runners racing down your street or traffic noise you wouldn’t otherwise notice on a quiet Saturday morning.
If you live interstate or can’t get the time off work to do this, you can use Google Maps to factor in the extra time it takes to battle the traffic.
As you can see from comparing a drive into the city from Paddington at 9 am on a Monday versus a Saturday, it can take around 6-10 minutes extra, adding 50% onto your commute time.
Simon will have to decide whether or not he is willing to spend those extra minutes on the road during the week.
What is the suburb’s Walk Score?
WalkScore is a great tool to give you an idea of the local transportation situation and parks. WalkScore also has my personal favourite tool, Travel Time Map, which uses maps to show how far you can get from your potential new home by walking for 20 minutes, driving for 10 minutes, etc.
With a Walk Score of 94 out of 100, 82 Charlotte Street looks like a solid buy. This location is considered a “Walker’s Paradise”, so daily errands do not require a car. There are also lots of cafes and restaurants nearby. This means it could be a good property for renters in the future.
City of Brisbane
Median house price (2022)
Median house price (2 bed, 2022)
Median house price (3 bed, 2022)
Median house price (4 bed, 2022)
Median unit price (1 bed, 2022)
Median unit price (2 bed, 2022)
Another tool I like using at this stage is Microburbs.
This gives you some really powerful data that can help understand the property and the local area quickly, including demographic data that has been extracted directly from the Census. It provides lots of different data such as:
- Hip Score: Stats on how many people are commuters & data from the Census to give you an idea of who your future rental tenants might be.
- Family Score: Stats on local schools, daycare and universities.
- Lifestyle Score: Stats on local cafes, pubs, gyms and pools.
- Community Score: Stats on long-term residents and other community activities in the area.
3. Research rental income per week
Even if you intend to make this property your home, it’s worth knowing what you could rent it out for in the future. This gives you more options and also helps you understand if it could also be sold as an investment property in the future.
The fundamentals for a strong rental market include:
- Low Vacancy Rates. The vacancy rate is the number of rental properties on the market that are vacant. Paddington’s Vacancy Rate is trending lower currently at 0.5%, which is a very good sign.
- Stable Weekly Rental. Stable weekly rent shows whether the market is in growth or decline. Paddington’s average Weekly Rent for a 3 Bedroom house is picking up with a 15% increase in the quarter.
- Good Rental Yields. The rental yield is calculated as the gross annual rental divided by the property’s value. So for 82 Charlotte Street, you might get $788 per week rent on a $1.45M value which is equal to a 2.8% rental yield. This is in line with the other rental yields in Paddington for 3-bedroom houses.
- Supply & Demand in balance. If there is too much supply and not enough demand, prices tend to soften. Whereas if there is too much demand and not enough supply, the prices increase. The number of houses for sale in Paddington has remained fairly stable since 2012 compared to the number of units which has increased. With a limited supply of new homes being built, you would expect the rental market to remain very stable over the next few years.
Overall the rental market in Paddington looks reasonable, To find out how much rental you might get per week, you can either ask the real estate agent for a rental appraisal or have a look yourself.
4. Calculate (potential) rental income
Working out potential rental per week is not an exact science. Below are some methods property managers use to determine the rental potential. While they can be subjective, you can at least work out a broad idea of what rental to expect per week.
Method 1: Researching rental income using RealEstate.com.au
- Have a look on RealEstate.com.au under Rent.
- Filter for your target suburb
- Match your property characteristics such as a 3-bedroom house, yard, pool etc, and you will see the rental range.
In the example of 82 Charlotte Street the rental ranges from $780 to $820 per week.
23 Armstrong Terrace Paddington
Asking $820 per week
57 Beck Street Paddington
Asking $780 per week
18 Sorrel Street Paddington
Asking $800 per week
Method 2: Researching rental income with RentPrice:
- Jump onto RentPrice
- Again, filter for your target suburb
- Match your properties characteristics.
The good thing is this site also shows sold prices on properties that are a few years old which can give you a good insight into what has happened in the suburb over the past few years.
So overall for 82 Charlotte Street you could estimate around $750-$800 in rent.
5. Research similar sales in Brisbane
Price will always be a limiting factor when buying property, and that’s especially true for first-home buyers. It’s likely that you’re going to have a strict budget based on how much deposit you’ve saved up and how much the bank is willing to lend you.
If you don’t know what your budget is, you can use an online calculator to help you figure out your maximum borrowing capacity. Once you’ve figured out your borrowing capacity, it’s time to research similar sales in Brisbane, i.e. the property market.
This is the most important part of the process, especially in today’s market, where real estate agents aren’t putting prices on properties and are ‘leaving it to the market to decide’. In other words, they are hoping someone is going to overpay.
The fundamentals of a strong property market include:
- Few days on market. Days on market indicate how long it takes from when a property is initially listed until it is sold. Longer days on market mean it is harder to sell the property. In Paddington, the days on market have been relatively stable since 2000. Paddington also has fewer days on market: 33 days compared to 38 days in Queensland.
- Stable weekly asking property prices. Weekly asking price is another indicator of market health and shows the trend of asking prices in your local market. In Paddington, this has increased sharply over the last year. Bear in mind that this report uses median house prices so it might not be a completely accurate indicator as Paddington often has property sales over $3M which can cause the numbers to be thrown out.
- Supply & Demand in balance. As we covered above, if there is too much supply and not enough demand, prices tend to soften. The number of houses for sale in Paddington has remained fairly stable since 2012, meaning supply and demand of houses is in balance. On the other hand, the number of units has increased, which may cause the price of units to soften.
- Demand to Supply Ratio Score (DSR). DSR uses a few more data points to estimate the demand-to-supply ratio, a simple predictor of capital growth potential. The DSR Score in Paddington is 54/100 (anything over 50 is good), and, as DSR Data explains, ’this is a healthy market for investors wanting to apply some value-adding strategy. Buyers are sometimes able to get away with lowball offers. Expect growth to marginally exceed the national average’.
Overall the property market in Paddington looks good, and with a limited supply of new homes being built, you would expect the property market to remain strong over the next few years.
6. Determine the property’s value
As with rental, working out your future home’s value is not an exact science.
Ultimately the property is going to be worth the highest amount someone is willing to pay, but you can at least get an indication using the same techniques real estate agents use to price properties.
To determine a home’s value, you need to look at recent sales of similar properties with these characteristics:
- The sales within 2 km of the home, in the same suburb
- The same property type (unit/house/townhouse/land)
- The same number of bedrooms, bathrooms and car parks.
- The same or similar land size
- The sales that occurred within the last 6 months
- Property is in a similar condition/has a similar level of improvements (i.e. both have a pool, renovated kitchen, etc)
The last point is where your research can get a bit subjective but try to take a step back and look at it as an external investor would.
There are online methods you can use to research property value.
Method 1: Researching property values using SoldPrice (best method)
- Go to SoldPrice website, click “Home Sold Price”
- Enter your suburb
- Set Search filters criteria. In our case, a minimum of 3 bedrooms, a minimum of 300 sq/m land and a property type is a house.
- Review and shortlist results
- Add commentary to your results
3 1 1
Similar, smaller land
3 1 1
Similar, smaller land
3 1 1
Similar, smaller land
3 1 2
Similar, smaller land
Out of these, it seems 82 Charlotte Street could be worth somewhere in the range of $1,010,000 to $1,820,000.
Method 2: Researching property values using CoreLogic (ok method)
- Go to PropertyValue website,
- Enter the address in the box.
- The website will generate an automated value figure. In this case, it is $1,400,000 to $1,500,000. This is a high figure and will give you confidence in the estimate.
- You can also see other properties on the market at the bottom, to give you a sense of where your property sits.
On the market
Estimated value $1,6M – $1.8M
3 1 1
Estimated value $1.6M – $1.8M
4 2 2
Based on the sales it is unlikely the property would be worth in excess of $1.8M. So if you spent anything more than that, you would be spending too much. Other properties on the market support the price range of around $1,6M to $1,8M.
Method 3: Researching property values using RealEstateView (worst method)
- Go to RealEstateView website
- Enter the address in the box.
- It gives you an estimated value. Ignore this at the moment.
- Scroll down to 82 Charlotte Street Price Estimate and click Choose your comparable sales
Keep clicking replace comparable until you get 3 sales that match our criteria above (same suburb, same type of property etc).
3 2 1
Smaller yard but extra bathroom.
3 1 1
Slightly bigger yard
3 1 0
Not in Paddington
As you can see, only 1 of these sales meet our criteria above and wouldn’t be considered comparable. Therefore, the price estimate is completely wrong.
This is the same with using OnTheHouse to do property research. The price estimate compares properties sold in neighbouring suburbs which aren’t directly comparable.
7. Confirm the Property’s Value with our free RP Data Valuation
- Go to our Contact Page, input your details and in the message include the property address.
- We’ll complete a free RP Data electronic valuation for you (sample here), which will do all the work for you.
- The report includes location highlights, recent sales and properties on the market.
- Most importantly it includes an estimated value and estimated price range.
Estimated Value: $1.45M which is in line with our previous research.
Based on all the research above, 82 Charlotte Street Paddington will sell between a price range of around $915,000 to $985,000.
8. Research the history of your home
As a fun little bonus, I thought we’d include a way for you to research the history of your home.
Brisbane’s suburbs are littered with character homes that have lots and lots of history. Before you move in, you can learn a little bit more about what has happened in your home in the past by visiting the Queensland State Archives and tracing the history of your home.
9. Research if your home has gone swimming (i.e. flooded in Brisbane)
Much less fun, but still very important is to research the flood history of your home to make sure it hasn’t gone underwater before.
Note: Real estate agents don’t need to notify you if the home was flooded in the past.
Whether or not your house has been flooded before drastically affects:
- The home’s resale value
- Whether or not the bank will give you a loan
- Most importantly it can cost you double or even triple the amount in insurance.
In the case of 82 Charlotte Street, it has a medium likelihood of being flooded— meaning a flood event is likely to affect the property during a single lifetime of around 70 years, with a 1% chance of a flood occurring in any year. Have a look at the sample flood report here, but as you can see the property is affected by Overland Flow Path.
Overland flow flooding usually occurs when the capacity of the underground pipe drainage system is exceeded and/or when the overland flow path is blocked. It is recommended you consult a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland to determine a property’s habitable floor level and flooding depth. Please refer to the Council’s planning scheme for further information.
Flooding in Brisbane is fairly common in suburbs around the river or in low-lying areas like Paddington, Rosalie, Milton and West End. It doesn’t mean the end of the world for your future home, but it does mean you should do some more research before going ahead.
Remember to also factor in a discount to the purchase price given that there is a likelihood of being flooded in the future.
10. Negotiate with the real estate agent
Once you have finished all the research above, you probably now know what property you want as well as what you are willing to pay for it. It is now time to put your offer to the real estate agent.
As we covered in our First Home Buyer Guide, a good real estate agent will work hard for the seller to get the best price. So, remember that the agent isn’t working for you as the buyer.
As harsh as it sounds, most real estate agents won’t waste time on buyers who are unsure or willing to commit.
But having done your property research to this point will set you apart from other buyers in the market.
You need to put your best foot forward by asking the right questions to identify potential issues on the property as well as any information that can help with your negotiations.
Here are a few points to consider when negotiating:
- The more the agent likes you, the more information they will give you. Be firm but respectful.
- Find out as much as you can about the vendor, other competing buyers, and the terms they are looking for.
- Asking questions allows you to position your offer strongly without focusing on price.
- Try not to give away too much about your position, especially the amount you have been pre-approved.
- Don’t be afraid to start low on your offer (see my template below)!
11. Make an offer on the property [step-by-step template]
Our First Home Buyer’s Guide has questions you can ask your real estate agent, as well as tips on how to make an offer on a property in Brisbane.
Generally, it is best to make an offer in writing to the real estate agent.
If I was buying 82 Charlotte Street, this is how I would be prepared:
- I would have my finance pre-approved and be ready to put in a sharp offer.
- I would submit an offer in writing of $1.3M subject to 7 days for finance and building and pest.
- I would mention to the real estate agent that:
- The property was bought for $857k in 2018: To which they will reply that substantial renovations have been completed
- The property is at risk of flooding and will cost more in insurance and associated risks going forward.
- I would list comparable sales in the suburb.
- Then I will wait for the agent to present my offer to the vendors and wait for their counteroffer.
- They might come back at $1.5M. I won’t meet them halfway. I will Increase my offer by 5% to $1.36M and see what they come back with.
- If they are unwilling to budge, I would move on to the next property. If their counteroffer is slightly above what I was hoping to spend, then I’d accept the offer and move forward. If their counteroffer is much higher than I’d like to spend, then I’d suggest another counteroffer.
When I bought my home, they were asking for offers over $750,000. I started with an offer of $690,000 and settled with the vendors at $705,000.
I actually beat another offer the vendors had of $710,000 because I had shorter finance and settlement terms.
So it’s important that you are organised and have your finances ready to make your offer as competitive as possible. Click here to get a free assessment.
12. Next steps, and settling your new home
Our team here at Hunter Galloway is here to help you buy a home in Brisbane. Nathan & Joshua Vecchio are Senior Mortgage brokers who specialise in making your home journey easy.
Unlike other mortgage brokers who are just one-person operators, we have an entire team of experts to help make your home loan journey as simple as possible.
If you want to get started, please get in touch here, and we can book a time that suits you. We can schedule either a phone call information session or a face-to-face meeting at no charge to you.
Further reading for Home Buyers…
- For our comprehensive guide for First Home Buyers, check out this page here.
- Looking at getting a loan, check out our Complete First Home Buyers guide.
- And don’t forget the costs of buying which we covered in detail here.