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Top tips for first home buyers in Australia

Read the best tips for buying your first home, or compare your loan options right now.

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Buying your first property can be an overwhelming process. Read on to take the fear out of buying your first home, or compare home loan options in the table below.

Nine tips for first home buyers

Boost your confidence and your home loan know-how with the following nine tips:

1. Make sure you're actually eligible for a home loan

Before you dig too deeply into the process, check that you actually qualify for a home loan. Contact several lenders to get an idea of how much money you can borrow. This will give you a realistic understanding of what (and where) you can actually buy. Try out Finder's home loan eligibility calculator to get a better idea.

2. Research all your home loan options

The home loan market is complex and competitive. You need to compare as many loans as possible to make sure you're getting the right rate and features. You also need to know what types of home loans are available. From variable to fixed rate loans, interest-only and investment loans, there are many different types of mortgages. Finding the type of loan that matches your needs is crucial.

3. Sort out your debt

If you're already in debt you might find it harder to get a home loan approved, or you may not be able to borrow quite as much. Focus on paying off any large debts you may have before you apply for a home loan, especially high-interest debts. Consider combining several debts into one if you can. But note that some debts, such as university HECS debt, are far less troubling than, say, credit card debt.

4. Get a good-sized deposit together

The bigger your deposit the more you can borrow. And you can apply for loans with lower interest rates. While it's possible to take out a loan with a 5 or 10% deposit, you will have to pay lenders mortgage insurance if you have less than a 20% deposit.

The ultimate home loan deposit savings guide

5. Crunch all your costs (and calculate your concessions)

Home buying incurs many surprise expenses. Budget for removalist costs, stamp duty, application and registration fees and pest inspection reports. You should also see if you're eligible for a first homeowners grant or stamp duty concessions. If you're eligible, you'll save thousands of dollars.

6. Position yourself for success

If you've fallen in love with a particular property, other buyers probably have too. Having all your paperwork and deposit together, plus pre-approval puts you in a much better position to snap up your dream home when you find it.

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7. Caveat emptor (home buyers, beware!)

Imagine buying a car without checking the mileage or the brakes, and then having it break down as soon as you buy it. A home is likely the largest purchase you'll ever make, and ultimately you as the buyer are responsible for making sure you're getting a quality property for the price you're paying. Get building and pest inspections so you're not stuck with a collapsing, termite-infested disaster. Examine the quality of the property's fittings and construction as best you can. And if there are obvious repairs needed (and you're OK with that) make sure you get a quote for repairs and factor that into your budget.

8. Get expert help

There are professionals who can help you with every step of the home buying process. Buyers agents can help you with the whole buying process, while a mortgage broker can navigate the loan market if you can't. Make sure you have a licensed conveyancer look over your contract thoroughly.

9. Figure out your home buying strategy

If you want the ease of moving into a home which is already landscaped and liveable then you may consider buying an established home. Buying a home which has already been built has the advantage of being in an established area with established streets, footpaths, nearby parks and, importantly, shops and transport. You could even buy an older home and carry out some improvements.

Next time you check an online property listing, look carefully at things that should be square (like paintings, chairs and tiles) or circular (like clocks and light fittings).

Other ploys to watch out for are:

  • Hosing down old concrete to make it look new.
  • Covering dead gardens with chip bark.
  • Nailing brush screens to crappy fences.
  • Photoshopping powerlines out and blue skies in.

If you would prefer to put your own stamp on your home from the beginning then you might want to build your first home from the ground up. Choosing the block and the neighbourhood, the street and the orientation, choosing the plan and the builder, then choosing everything from the doorknobs to the paint colours, the pavers to the curtains and everything in between. If you are building your own home, you will need to apply for a construction loan to draw down on funds.

Watch: How much should you save to buy a house?

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$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount Offer for Owner Occupiers, Variable P&I Rate
2.49%
2.49%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.59%
2.60%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online.
Greater Bank Great Rate Home Loan - Discounted 1 Year Fixed with Family Pledge Home Loan  Up to 110% LVR (Owner Occupier)
1.99%
3.52%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Requires a family member to act as guarantor.
Get one of the lowest rates on the market with this fixed rate mortgage and borrow more with help from a family guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT residents only.
homeloans.com.au Low Rate Home Loan with Offset - LVR 80% to 90% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.74%
2.76%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Save on interest with a free 100% offset account and buy your property with just a 10% deposit. This loan is not available for construction.
IMB Budget Home Loan - Special LVR  ≤90% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.78%
2.84%
$449
$0 p.a.
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. You can get an interest rate discount for a limited time with this competitive variable mortgage.
HSBC Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed Rate LVR 80% or below (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.09%
2.98%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Lock in a competitive fixed rate for 2 years and buy your home with a 20% deposit.
IMB Budget Home Loan - LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.61%
2.67%
$449
$0 p.a.
80%
A competitive variable rate for borrowers with 20% deposits saved. Available for NSW and ACT borrowers only.
Heritage Bank Discount Variable Home Loan - LVR ≤ 80% (Owner Occupier, P&I) New Customers Only
2.78%
2.83%
$600
$0 p.a.
80%
Family guarantee option available. Enjoy flexible repayments and a low minimum loan amount.
Greater Bank Great Rate Discount Variable with Family Pledge Home Loan - Up to 110% LVR
2.68%
2.69%
$0
$0 p.a.
110%
Pay no deposit or LMI and get a discounted rate with this family pledge loan. Requires a family member to act as guarantor. NSW, QLD and ACT only.
Yard Variable Home Loan - LVR 80% Special (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
2.42%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
A very low variable rate loan for home buyers with an optional offset account ($10 monthly fee). 20% deposit required.
Bankwest Complete Home Loan Package Variable - $200k to <$750k LVR ≤80% (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.73%
3.18%
$0
$395 p.a.
80%
A low variable rate loan with a 100% offset account and package discounts.
Hunter United Fixed Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.19%
2.71%
$350
$0 p.a.
90%
Lock in a competitive rate for two years. Available with a 10% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.39%
3.85%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
Westpac Flexi First Option Home Loan - Basic Variable Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.29%
2.72%
$0
$8 monthly ($96 p.a.)
95%
Up to $3,000 refinance cashback.
A flexible and competitive variable rate loan. Eligible borrowers refinancing $250,000 or more can get $2,000 cashback per property plus a bonus $1,000 for their first application. Other conditions apply.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.19%
3.10%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 2 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 5% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society  Premium Plus Package Fixed Rate - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
3.68%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
A two year fixed rate home loan with no application fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
UBank UHomeLoan - 1 Year Fixed Rate (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.14%
2.46%
$395
$0 p.a.
80%
Fix your mortgage for 1 year with a very competitive rate and no ongoing fees.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
4.12%
$595
$0 p.a.
90%
$2,000 refinance cashback
Investors can take advantage of a short term fixed rate with no ongoing fees. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
BankSA Basic Home Loan - Owner Occupier, P&I
2.54%
2.56%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Up to $4,000 refinance cashback
A competitive variable rate loan from BankSA. Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get a $4,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply).
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Premium Plus Package Home Loan - New Customer Offer Discount 1 ($150k+ Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.94%
3.34%
$0
$395 p.a.
95%
$2,000 refinance cashback
New borrowers or refinancers can get a discounted rate with this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
IMB Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (LVR 90% Owner Occupier, P&I, NSW and ACT borrowers only)
2.39%
3.08%
$449
$6 monthly ($72 p.a.)
90%
NSW and ACT customers only. 3 years fixed interest terms and free access to redraw facility online. Available with a 10% deposit.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Real Deal Home Loan - Special Offer 1 (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.59%
2.63%
$595
$0 p.a.
80%
$2,000 refinance cashback
$2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
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6 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    PeachMay 29, 2014

    the First Home Savings Account here is ancient, not updated since 2010. All the dollar limits have since been changed AND the whole scheme has subsequently been scrapped.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyMay 29, 2014Staff

      Hi Peach,

      Thank you for your feedback, we’ve now updated the page so it’s relevant for our users.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

  2. Default Gravatar
    JimMay 19, 2014

    Dear sir/madam

    I am buying an established property from a seller
    for $216,000 in fifteen months time to be paid in
    cash from my own savings. The seller is still paying for the mortgage. Could you please tell me
    how and to whom and in what manner should this money be paid?
    Should the payment be made before or after the documentation has been completed?

    Could you please give me an estimate of all other cost including the GST.

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ElizabethMay 20, 2014Staff

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your question.

      Usually, payment is made when the seller and the buyer exchange signed copies of the contract of sale. If you are using a solicitor to draw up the documents then they may be able to advise you how the money should be paid, as the payment terms may be specified in the contract.

      As for GST, the ATO has a GST Property Tool that can calculate the GST that will be payable in the sale.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  3. Default Gravatar
    phillipFebruary 2, 2014

    is the first home owner grant only for new homes

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyFebruary 3, 2014Staff

      Hi Philip,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes the FHOG is only for new homes.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

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