Checking Local Infrastructure Before Buying a Property

The imminent purchase of a property can be exciting — so exciting that there is a temptation to ‘throw caution to the wind’, get wrapped up in the possibilities of what lies before you and fail to do all the necessary research to ascertain that the property you are buying represents good value and will allow you to do all that you wish. Sometimes there are reasons why a property is offered at a cheap price, and buyers need to not only be aware but also careful in committing to a purchase.

What are the important details that need to be considered prior to buying a property?

When buying any property, there are a number of factors that are not only relevant for consideration but should influence the ultimate decision you make of whether or not to purchase. These factors include:

  • Sales history in the area and the values of properties of a similar type
  • Median prices, the extent to which real estate in the area has enjoyed growth and the rental return that can reasonably be expected
  • Council zoning and planning

These are all definitely important features, but one that is quite commonly overlooked when buying a residential or investment property in Sydney (as well as other cities and non-metropolitan locations), is the need to check local infrastructure.

Why is checking local infrastructure so important?

The need to carefully and thoroughly check local infrastructure is particularly important when buying a property that may be on the council’s register of unmaintained roads. Without such a check being done, a buyer would really have no idea if the road leading to a property they were interested in purchasing was on the council’s unmaintained roads register.

Tony Perrett, the Deputy Mayor of Gympie, has emphasised that gazetted roads are able to be legally accessed by anyone and can be classified as maintained or unmaintained.

It is absolutely vital that a potential buyer knows the category in which the property they are interested fits. Cr Perrett described the situation of a buyer finding a site on which they want to build a home and live and then asking the council to build a road to provide access to the property. He emphasised the need for people to consider whether land is comparatively cheap because there is no access.

In such circumstances, some buyers are so keen to live in a particular location that they opt to pay the majority of the costs for the road to be upgraded to council standard and thereby placed on the maintained list of roads kept by the council. Although a portion of the cost of having the road upgraded may be paid by the council, the bulk of the cost is paid by the owner of the property.

Buyer beware

The due diligence of buyers is required when purchasing any property and steps need to be taken to ascertain that high costs will not be incurred as a result of problems with local infrastructure.

For example, in Gympie, a number of ratepayers contacted the local newspaper — the Gympie Times — regarding the state of a road in need of significant repairs after heavy rain. The road concerned was on the council’s maintained list, but was only a maintained road up to a certain point, thereafter becoming an unmaintained road. Although the council placed a sign at the relevant point to advise that the road was unmaintained, it is understood that the heavy rain had washed away the sign or been removed.

All buyers need to check local infrastructure before buying a home in which they live or an investment property. Sydney and other large Australian cities are more likely to have developed infrastructure, but the appropriate checks should be undertaken so that situations, such as that which occurred in Gympie, can be avoided.

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