The First Home Buyer’s Survival Guide

So, you’re buying your first home…How hard can it be? Make life easier on yourself with this list of top tips for stepping smoothly onto the property ladder.

Money, money money
It sounds obvious, but there’s no point in spending weeks house-hunting and then finding out you can’t afford to buy! Start by building a deposit and clearing your debts – a lender is more likely to approve your home loan if you show you can save and manage your finances. Plus a bigger deposit means you can potentially borrow more.

No surprises!
A $50,000 deposit and a $500,000 home loan doesn’t mean you can afford a $550,000 house… not when you factor in other costs like Stamp Duty, removalists, pest inspections, legal fees and so on. Research all the costs for a better idea of what you really have to spend.

Hands up for hand outs
If someone’s going to give you money towards your home, don’t be backward in coming forward. Look into all the possible grants and incentives offered by the government that could pump up your budget, like the First Home Owners Grant.

Train, train, train
You wouldn’t run a marathon if your daily exercise is walking between the sofa and the fridge, so don’t jump into the homebuying arena without training first. Half an hour a day online, reading magazines or listening to podcasts about how the property market is working will have you in peak condition to succeed as a buyer.

Think outside the box
When you’re looking at a property, don’t get hung up on what’s inside it – it’s easy to lose yourself on plans for remodelling the kitchen when you should be thinking bigger picture. What’s the suburb like? The neighbours? The transport? Thoroughly research the area where you want to buy before you start mentally renovating bathrooms.

Perfectly unreasonable
Don’t look for the ideal home on your first go. Concentrate on the best you can find for what you can afford. If you can’t get the big yard and the garage and second bathroom, be prepared to compromise. Once you own and have built up some equity, then you can look to upgrade.

Don’t panic!
Don’t buy because you think you’re going to miss out, because you get swept up in an auction, because you feel pressured by agents or because you’re just tired of looking. Patience always pays off in the end.

You can’t make lemonade from this lemon
When you buy a home, you’re buying “as is” – if you didn’t notice it has rising damp, cracks in the walls and subsidence, you can’t complain after you’ve bought it. Avoid hundreds of thousands in maintenance by hiring a building inspector to ferret out all those problems before you agree a price. Similarly, a good solicitor will weed out any issues in the contract that could cost you big later.