There are no small mistakes in real estate, just expensive lessons. While buying a property is a relatively straightforward process, if you don't go into it with your eyes open and prepared to do your homework, it can be a very stressful process.

In the latest issue of Your Mortgage magazine, author and buyer's agent Patrick Bright reveals practical tips on how you can avoid making costly mistakes when buying property. Here are five of Bright's top mistakes to avoid:

1. Not doing enough research
You need to select a maximum of three suburbs and see as many properties as you can in preferably a six to 12-week timeframe, as two to three months is a long time in real estate and prices can move quite substantially. As a general rule I'd advise you to inspect at least 100 properties within that timeframe and document all relevant features.

2. Thinking selling agents are there to help you, the 'buyer'
To put it bluntly, selling agents are not there to help you get a good deal. They're working for the seller, not the buyer. Selling agents will tell you what they want you to know about the property and they can be very persuasive, especially when they're using negotiation and influencing tactics.

3. Searching without finance approval
Don't embark on a house hunt without finance approval. The last thing you want to do is watch the home of your dreams slip through your fingers while someone else is exchanging contracts, especially while you're trying to arrange an interview with a mortgage broker or your local bank.

4. Overstretching your finances
We're currently seeing the heartache of thousands of people across Australia who have financially committed well beyond their means. Don't repeat their mistakes.

5. Ignoring inspections
Termite infestations, dodgy wiring, sub-standard renovations... there are many potential problems in any home that you're not likely to pick up by yourself. Most solicitors I speak with tell me that only about 30-40% of their clients obtain all the appropriate inspections. Avoid this mistake by getting all relevant inspections.

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