Are you ready to take the plunge and buy your first home? The first homebuyers grant (FHOG) gives you $7,000 to get you started, but there are other things you can do to help – or hinder – your progress.
Know your budget
Once you begin looking at classifieds and viewing open homes, you can easily get carried away – especially once you’ve fallen in love with a property that’s priced $45,000 above your budget. Use the Your Mortgage Income and Expenditure Worksheet to help you draw up a realistic budget, so you know what you can afford before you begin home shopping.
Lots of research
From location and price to the quality of the property, “there’s a whole raft of things you should be looking at,” says Fiona Herbert, from Leap Frog Loansprocess. Be realistic about what you can afford, and aim to view at least a dozen properties in your chosen area, so you have a good scope for comparison.
Seek out the experts
You’re going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, so you don’t want to make decisions lightly. Experienced, qualified experts such a real estate agents, valuers and finance brokers can guide you and offer advice along the way. “The more property transactions they’ve handled, the more experienced they’ll be,” advises Jo Chivers, director of Property Bloom.
Ask the important questions
Don’t save all of your questions for the experts – have a serious conversation with yourself and your partner too, so you can make sure you’re going in with both eyes wide open. “Ask yourself [questions like]: how much money do I need? Is this the best place for my money?” Herbert says. It’s better to face the tough questions before you’re locked into a 30-year mortgage.
Bite off more than you can chew
First homebuyers are often guided by budget and as a result, they may be tempted to buy a cheap “fixer upper” property that they can renovate. If you’ve got the skills to handle the job that’s fine, but it’s not a good idea to embark on major renovations if you don’t have the know-how or experience, as mistakes can be costly to rectify.
Get carried away
Choosing your first home can be an emotional experience, but you “must take the emotion out of it,” advises Herbert. Yes, the kitchen is beautiful and it has a walk-in wardrobe – but if the property is priced $60,000 above your budget, that doesn’t matter. The stress of meeting the extra mortgage repayments each month will more than offset the joy a big kitchen brings, so be guided by your head, not your heart.
Skip the building and pest inspection
When you’re buying your first home every cent counts, but you don’t want to scrimp on this. A building and pest inspection will cost around $500, and it will turn up any current and potential flaws and faults – such as structural damage or termite infestations – that could cost you thousands to fix. Think of it as an investment in your own peace of mind.