It’s every Aussie’s dream to own their own home, so we’ve laid out 10 steps to buying your first house and living the great Australian dream. Get amongst it.
The decision to buy a new house is never an easy one and will probably be one of the most life-changing, and possibly exciting, decisions you’ll ever make. But before you dive straight in and sign the dotted line, there are many factors to carefully consider.
Whether you’re a first home buyer or someone looking to add a new investment property to their portfolio, it’s always best to do your own research first. As a new homeowner myself, I had no idea what was ahead of me at the time, all I knew is that I was ready mentally, to move out and be independent.
That’s why I’ve put together this simple 10 step guide to prepare you for the journey ahead and to help navigate buying a new home. From finding the best interest rates and who to talk to, to choosing a suburb you can call home, to getting pre-approval and handover, we help you move into your new home with some much needed clarity.
Are you ready to commit?
Purchasing a home is a huge financial commitment, so you need to be ready. You may be fed up with living at home, sick and tired of paying rent, or have a little one on the way and need space, but we all need to ask ourselves the same question — ‘am I truly ready?’.
If you’re experiencing cold feet or caught up in emotional hype because all your friends are moving out, then it’s a possibility that you might not be ready to take the leap at this point in time. First things first, assess whether you have job security required to make this work. Most lenders will be looking for at least 12 months plus, this will give them more confidence to get the ball rolling.
It’s important to note that if you have children, the banks will take this into account when devising the amount you can borrow. In some cases, the amount you can borrow can decline up as much as up to 50k per child.
With all this in mind, it’s time to consider your finances and how much you can borrow.
Evaluate your finances or speak to a broker
The main question that most will come across is ‘how much can I borrow’? I know I’ve got a decent sized deposit ready, but does that affect how much I can borrow? This amount is determined by a lot of factors, including current debts, assets, as well as spendings, subscriptions and memberships.
Taking out a mortgage is a huge financial commitment and to get a good idea of where you currently stand, it’s best to have a conversation with either your broker, accountant or the bank. I personally went to a recommended finance broker and they were extremely helpful, calculating exactly how much I could borrow while factoring everything else in.
Knowing how much you can borrow will make it far easier for when you start searching for a property, especially when the first thing real estate agents ask is ‘do you know how much you can borrow?’
To increase your chances of getting a higher loan:
- Make sure all credit cards and loans are paid off
- Reduce the limit on your cards
- Minimise taking out any loans
What are the costs involved?
We’ve taken the following costs from a previous article we wrote, About to Build a New Home? Here’s What You Need to Know.
- A deposit 5% – 20%
- Legal assistance or conveyancer to help complete the transfer of property sale ~$1000 to $3000
- Stamp duty, government imposed tax on purchase of a home, varies by state Calculate Stamp Duty
- Building inspection, pest inspection and report to confirm structural integrity and to identify any defects in the property ~$300 to $700
- Mortgage establishment fees may apply when you sign up with a lender ~$600
- Building insurance is a must for houses for the moment it is transferred over to your name ~$800 – $1000+
- Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) for deposits less than 20% ~$1500+
This is only the beginning. Other costs to consider are those that are ongoing, such as mortgage repayments, utilities, internet, council rates, strata fees, home and contents insurance, moving costs and so on. We recommend keeping at least $10,000+ in the bank as a safety net rather than sinking all your pennies into one basket.
Searching for the best interest rates and mortgages
If you got a 20% deposit ready to go, great! Now you can shop around to find the best interest rates on a home loan and lender. There are 2 common ways to go about this section: 1. You go through a finance broker, they will have their own list of lenders and home loans available with access to interest rates. Or 2: You do all your own research from bank to bank to find out which is best suited to you.
I personally went with option 1, which made the process a whole lot easier. My broker not only calculated how much I could borrow, but explained every single component there is to know about finances. From interest rates, fixed and variable, to no ongoing or establishment fees, and offset accounts, she made sure I got the best deal suited to my situation.
5 things to consider when hunting for the best home loan:
- Keep an eye out for the lowest interest rates. 2020 home loan rates are currently as low as 2.59% from certain lenders.
- Term of the loan (how long it will take to pay off. Usually 25-30 years)
- If you can or can’t withdraw funds you have already deposited
- Can you make additional repayments on top of required ones, and if so are there any conditions?
- How often is the interest calculated?
Getting home loan pre-approval
Also known as conditional approval or approval in principle, is what you’d secure before you went searching for a home to get an idea of how much you can spend overall. This ties back into point number 2, evaluating your finances. Make sure to provide your lender or broker with all your financial details including credit card reports, savings, income, spendings and investments. A pre-approval is then granted with the amount you can borrow, which you can now go looking for a property!
Choosing the suburb and property type
Every individual will have their own preferred location. It’s important to remain calm and have a clear idea of what you’re looking for and where you want to live. It can be easy to get swept up in all the hype and emotion when stepping into display villages, especially with real estate agents breathing down your neck if they think you’re a potential buyer.
Consider making a list of non-negotiables and top priorities that you would like. Here’s what I used when I was searching for a property and suburb —
- Location: This is a huge factor. For me, I had to be closer to work, nearby public transport (I’m now 2 minutes away from a train station), and not too far away from family and friends.
- Accessibility: Access to public transport, supermarkets, servos
- Infrastructure: Is there any established infrastructure or plans to develop (I had to have NBN fibre to the node)
- Suburb: Is it a safe and friendly community? Perth’s Safest Neighbourhoods 2019.
Buying an investment property?
Buying an investment property has slightly different factors to consider. Decide whether you plan to renovate and flip it or if you plan on leasing out the property. There is a different set of criteria for either one, which is necessary to consider when choosing the type of property to invest in. Keep an eye out for the following:
- Suburbs with higher rental yields than property price
- Research most recent sale prices of homes in the area for an idea of price
- Are there any upcoming developments or zoning changes and what impact will they have? (For example, they increased the lanes on the freeway and main road near my home which has helped reduce congestion heading into the city in the morning.)
- Is there a strong rental demand?
- Are there any schools, shops, servos, hospitals or public transport nearby?
- How many bedrooms, bathrooms and parking spots?
- Is there an internet connection?
- How much will maintenance costs be?
Real estate agent or buyer’s agent?
Real estate agents can be very helpful in providing information on what’s for sale, average sale price, what the suburb is like, how the property market is performing as well as general tips and queries.
A buyer’s agent is handy if you’re looking to buy from an auction, but can also help to find suitable properties, complete background checks on properties as well as do all the talking and negotiating with sellers for you. This takes a huge load of stress off your shoulders.
Inspect the property
Whether you’re building a new home or purchasing an established, you will need to complete an inspection of the property. Click here for a complete Final Inspection Checklist to bring with you.
If you’re 100% satisfied with how things look and you want to go ahead with purchasing the property, we recommend hiring an independent and qualified building inspector to make an assessment if you’re purchasing an established home.
In most cases, for newly built homes, a final inspection will be accompanied by the builder, however, you can still opt to hire an independent inspector. They will look for structural defects, pest infestations, faulty plumbing, drain issues, wiring and more.
Preparing for settlement
By this point, you should have a property in mind that you want to purchase. A licensed conveyancer can help with all the contracts and legality side of things. The next step is to get a property valuation to find out what is the right price to offer. Then it’s time to make an offer!
Starting with 10% less asking price is a good place to start. You don’t want to insult the seller with a low ball ask, that said, consider speaking to your real estate agent or buyer’s agent who may be able to provide advice on how much to offer.
Once you’ve reached a figure, reach out to the agent and let them know how much you’re willing to spend and your deposit amount. The next step will be the exchange of contracts and payment of deposit. Neither you or the seller will be legally bound to the sale until the contract of sale has been officially signed and swapped.
New home build
For new home’s, you’ll be liaising with a real estate agent and going through the contract of sale together, making sure both parties are aware of what’s included, special conditions such as ‘subject to finance’ and settlement date. You’ll also need a conveyancer or solicitor who will help with legally transferring the property title from one party to another. The costs are mentioned above in point 3.
For both scenarios, you will need to make sure you have purchased home and contents insurance before settlement. A settlement date will be listed, and once the balance, purchase price and stamp duty is paid, it’s settlement time! Settlement is the day where your money will be transferred to the seller and the property will finally be yours.
Congratulations! It’s time to move in
This calls for a time of celebration!! Pop some champers, have a glass of red or a couple of cold ones and soak up this moment because you’ve just accomplished one of life’s biggest goals of purchasing a home!
Before you move in, you’ll want to make sure you’ve organised all your utilities otherwise how else will you get to enjoy a relaxing hot shower!
As well as employ the help of removalists or a couple of strong family members to help you move. Don’t forget to change the address on all your accounts and organise mail for redirections.
Thinking of renovating a few things before officially moving in? Window shutters and security screens for your entry ways are usually on top of the list, as well as a new garage door if the current one is not looking real sturdy anymore.
Talk to our team for advice on how to pick the right garage door for your house and needs.