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