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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.

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
Suncorp Back to Basics Home Loan - Better Together Special Offer $150k+ LVR<=90% Incl. LMI (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.78%
2.79%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000. Refinance to an eligible Suncorp loan and get a cashback of $2,000 or $3,000, depending on your loan amount. Other conditions apply.
HSBC Home Value Loan - Promotional Offer (Owner Occupier P&I)
2.65%
2.66%
$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.
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 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.
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.
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%
Enjoy a competitive rate with no application fee for this package loan. $2,000 cashback for eligible refinancers borrowing $250,000 or more.
CUA Fixed Rate Home Loan - 3 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
3.99%
$600
$0 p.a.
95%
Pay no ongoing fees and lock in your rate for 3 years to organise your budget. Eligible new home buyers with low deposits can apply for the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme with this lender and avoid LMI costs.
Newcastle Permanent Building Society Fixed Rate Home Loan - 1 Year Fixed (Owner Occupier, P&I)
2.49%
4.12%
$595
$0 p.a.
90%
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
2.64%
2.66%
$500 (waived for loans above $150,000)
$0 p.a.
80%
Refinancers borrowing $200,000 or more can get can get up to $3,000 cashback (Other terms, conditions and exclusions apply). Buyers and refinancers can get this competitive variable interest rate. A low variable interest rate for home buyers and refinancers. Application fee waived for loans above $150,000.
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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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