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Buying Tips

Tips to buying your home

Buying your first home is both exciting and nerve-wracking. It is a major decision that takes planning and research, and careful budgeting. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Are you ready to buy?
  • Struggling to get into the property market?
  • How much can you afford? 
  • Finding the right property 
  • Steps to buying a property

1. Are you ready to buy?

You are ready to become a homeowner if you have the following things in place:

  • A regular savings habit - A history of regular savings in your bank account and a solid track record of employment will make it easier for you to get a home loan. 
  • Pre-approval for a loan - Compare a few different loans before you decide. Ask your lender for a key facts sheet on each home loan so you can compare more easily. Once you choose the loan and have been pre-approved you'll know what the repayments will be and how much you can afford to spend on a property. 
  • Some additional savings - These will act as a buffer if interest rates rise and your repayments increase. Alternatively choose a loan that allows extra repayments so you can build a buffer early on. 
  • A deposit 

In an ideal world the following would be the best way to go when purchasing your home. o The bigger the better when you're saving for a home.

  • The bigger your deposit, the lower your loan to value ratio (LVR).
  • This is the amount of the loan divided by the purchase price (or appraised value) of the property. 
  • If your LVR is higher than 80%, you will need to pay lender's mortgage insurance, and the lender could charge you a higher interest rate. 
  • Avoid these extra costs by saving a bigger deposit to lower your LVR. 

However, there are many factors that make it difficult to save for a big deposit and that’s where Out of the Square Real Estate excels, we are the “Deposit Assistance Specialists”

Find out how we can assist you with your deposit

Struggling to get into the property market?

2. Widen your property search

  • Not everyone can afford to live in their ideal location. If you're trying to get a foot in the market consider moving out of your comfort zone into an area you may not have considered before. 
  • Areas further out from cities or towns can be good value for money and offer a great first step into the market. 

3. Consider a smaller property

If you really want to live in a particular area you may have to start small and work your way up. Consider an apartment or a smaller house that you can add to over time.

4. Compromise on finishes

Properties that are dated or in need of renovation can be a cheaper option for home buyers. Look for a home that is structurally sound and then clean it to your standard. Add a lick of paint here and there to improve the look and renovate as your budget allows.

5. Consider an investment property rather than living in the home

Investment properties outside capital cities or in smaller towns or rural areas can have decent rental yields, making up for much lower capital gains. The benefit of a positively geared property is that a tenant repays your loan while you build equity. This allows you to sell the property later and use the proceeds as a deposit on a property closer to where you want to live.

6. How much can you afford?

  • A good way to find out how much you can afford to spend on a property is to review your household budget. If you don't already have one, use our budget planner to: 
  • Take what you're currently saving toward a deposit and add in what you pay in rent, to work out how much you can afford to repay 
  • Work out how much you can comfortably afford to borrow without stretching your budget too far, making sure you have a buffer 
  • Include all the costs that come with home ownership: up-front costs like stamp duty and legal fees and lender's mortgage insurance, as well as ongoing costs like land and water rates, house and contents insurance, and repairs 

7. Stamp duty calculators

One of the bigger upfront costs you may have to pay is stamp duty or transfer duty on your property. Find out how much you will need to pay using calculators on the websites below. If you are a first-home buyer, check what stamp duty concessions you are entitled to in your state.

ACT -  Revenue Office: Calculators

NSW - Office of State Revenue: Calculator - for land and property transfers

NT - Department of Treasury and Finance: Stamp duty calculators

QLD - Office of State Revenue: Transfer duty calculator

SA - RevenueSA calculator: Stamp duty on conveyances

TAS - Department of Treasury and Finance: Property transfer duty calculator

VIC - State Revenue Office: Our calculators

WA - Department of Treasury and Finance: Calculators

8. Finding the right property

  • There's no point looking for a waterfront mansion if you can only afford a boatshed. Once you've set your price range, identify the suburbs that have properties in that range - it will save you a lot of legwork. 
  • Then comes the fun part: finding the house or unit you want. Take your time and consider things like proximity to schools, transport and amenities, and the condition of the property. Does it need major repairs? 
  • Before you buy, arrange for building and pest inspections, and have the contract checked by a conveyancer or solicitor before you sign. Make sure the person inspecting your future home is qualified to do so, such as a licensed builder, architect or surveyor. 
  • In some states you can also have inspections during the 'cooling-off period', or the 5 days after you sign the contract, as long as you don't buy at auction - where there is no cooling-off period. If you withdraw during the period you will lose part of your deposit. 

Steps to buying a property

The process for buying a property is slightly different in each state and territory. For detailed information visit the fair trading office for your state.

ACT - Office of Regulatory Services, Fair Trading

NSW - Department of Fair Trading

NT - Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

QLD - Office of Fair Trading

SA - Government of South Australia

TAS - Consumer Affairs & Fair Trading

VIC - Consumer Affairs Victoria, Fair Trading

WA - Department of Commerce

Buying a home for the first time can feel like a giant leap into the unknown, but there are plenty of things you can do to make sure you don't fall into a financial abyss. Keep to your budget, put some money aside for emergencies, and take your time to find a place that feels like home.