How to buy your first home the right way
Buying your first property can be an overwhelming process. First time borrowers can face uncertainty over how to apply for a home loan, how to get approved, the grants they might be eligible for and where they should look to buy. On top of that, the home buying process can be filled with steps you never knew existed and jargon you've never hear before.
This guide will ensure you're more confident when buying your first property, and ready to take on that real estate agent.
Eight tips for first home buyers
Boost your confidence and your home loan know-how with the following eight 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 the interest rates of as many loans as possible to make sure you're not getting a rate that's far higher than average. 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. The general rule of thumb is a 20% deposit is a reasonable deposit size.
- 5. Crunch all your costs (and calculate your concessions). Repayments are one thing, but home buying incurs so many surprise expenses. Budget for removalist costs, stamp duty, application and registration fees and pest inspection reports. It's a scary exercise, but you should also see if you're eligible for a first homeowners grant or stamp duty concessions. If you're buying your first home in NSW and it costs less than $650,000, for example, you won't have to pay any stamp duty. This saves you many 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 breakdown as soon as you buy it. Now imagine it's a house and you've spent possibly a million dollars on a total wreck. 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 that need doing (and you're OK with that) make sure you get a quote for repairs and factor that in to 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.
First home buyer scenarios
Here are some more tips for first home buyers depending on the type of property you buy or the strategy you employ:
Auction advice from The Block 2016 winning auctioneer Damien Cooley
Episode 19 of the finder.com.au Money Podcast spoke to Taj Singh from First Home Buyers Australia about first home buyer tips
- Download the episode here by right clicking this link and clicking 'save link as'
- Stream the episode on a separate page here
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