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AU It's Game of Homes for buyers

Property Here - Saturday, June 15, 2013

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GAME of Thrones, a fantasy TV series with a cult following that includes Prime Minister Julia Gillard, features gruesome battles for castles, shocking twists and more than one beheading.

Most of us can't emulate the PM and quote one of the show's fictional languages, but we can draw parallels with what happens in real estate.

Let's call it Game of Homes.
Buyers battle for the best properties at tense auctions, price moves can shock us, and while you won't lose your head, your mind may go missing if you're not careful.

Here are some lessons from Game of Thrones/Homes, and how we can use them.

1. Expect the unexpected. Game of Thrones revels in killing off its main favourite characters. Viewers now must watch the show expecting that the worst will happen. It's the same with property. If you plan for the worst scenarios you can imagine with interest rates and house prices, you won't be shocked if they happen.

2. Be sneaky. You don't have to revert to double-crossing and assassination, but have a strategy to benefit from others' weaknesses. Buying in a downturn is one example, seeking properties where the vendors are forced sellers is another. Finance and investment is a world of pain and gain always aim to experience the latter.

3. Use trusted advisers. Whether you're a dwarf, a mother of dragons or a simple residential real estate investor, it's vital to seek advice from people you trust. Family members and friends can be a good sounding board but it's usually a good idea to have an accountant, conveyancer, quantity surveyor and financial adviser in your corner too.

4. Weigh up location versus risk. You're not capturing castles, but you are capturing the potential for long-term growth. It may pain you to read that house prices in some mining towns are near $1 million and you missed out, but remember that other areas can suffer savage falls if a mine closes, gets cut back or a future project gets cancelled.

Real estate agents often say the strongest and most reliable financial returns from property come for those who target areas near capital cities and nice beaches. But, just like the TV show, there are always surprises to throw you.

Playing the Game of Homes requires patience, planning and an eye for opportunity. Just don't lose your head.

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