Buying a home is one of the most significant purchases you'll make in your life, even more so as prices in the regions continue to spiral.
Depending where you live, you might be subject to strict time or density limits when inspecting a prospective home during the pandemic. For example, buyers are currently limited to 15-minute, pre-booked appointments under COVID-19 restrictions in the ACT, adding further pressure to the decision.
With such short inspection windows available, buyer's agent Claire Corby of Capital Buyers Agency said it pays to know what you're looking for.
Here, she shares advice for buyers looking to maximise their viewing opportunity while restrictions are in place.
DO: Make a priority list
First things first, ask the real estate agent for a copy of the pest and building report in the lead up to your appointment.
"Make a list of anything that's noted on there that you want to look closely at," Ms Corby said.
"For instance, if there's mentions of cracking or water damage in particular rooms, you want to pay close attention to that so you can see for yourself what the extent of the damage is and what likely repairs might be required."
Ms Corby said the most important rooms are often the most expensive, so pay close attention to kitchens and bathrooms.
Under current restrictions, buyers are asked to avoid opening cupboards and doors themselves.
"You can ask the agent to make sure all of those cupboards are open so you can see what kind of storage the home has," Ms Corby said.
DON'T: Be late
"You've got to be punctual, there's only a certain number of time slots that an agent can allocate to buyers and if you're lucky enough to score one make sure you are there on time because every minute counts," she said.
Ms Corby advises her clients to arrive at least five minutes early.
"You might find that if you're a couple of minutes late you're actually shortening your own inspection time," she said.
DO: Take photos
The first few moments can be overwhelming, Ms Corby said, so don't forget to spend a few minutes taking in the space.
"Also ask the agent beforehand if it's okay if you take a couple of photos ... just to jog your memory of what it looks like as you were standing there because if you're looking at a few [properties] they can start to blend," she said.
DO: Ask the agent to turn off the lights
One of the most important aspects of a home, and something you can't tell from a photo online, is how much natural light a property gets.
Ms Corby said don't be afraid to ask the real estate agent to turn the light switches off.
"It's a common approach for the agent to turn on every single light like a Christmas tree but no one lives in a home like that during the day," she said.
"When you're standing in the home, open up the compass app [on your smart phone] and get a feeling for where north is and make sure you can see for yourself how the sunlight will track through the home over the course of the day."
DON'T: Rely solely on styling and staging furniture
Professional styling and staging is often used to create an inviting space for buyers and to demonstrate the scale of each room.
However it's important to take your own measurements too as cleverly placed furniture can help make a space look bigger than it is, Ms Corby said.
"Consider where your furniture will be placed. For instance, they might have styled the room with just a double bed and some very small bedside tables and the room looks quite big, but when you measure it up it might only just fit your bed plus one bedside table," she said.
DO: Check the noise levels
The other advantage of inspecting a home in person is the ability to scope out the noise levels surrounding the property.
Ms Corby said take note of how close the neighbours are and where their outdoor spaces are located in proximity to the home.
She said if you can, walk by the property at different times of the day too.
"It can't hurt if you're in the area having your weekend stroll," Ms Corby said.
"[The noise levels] might be quite different on a Tuesday at midday than it is on a Saturday at 7pm."