Buying your first home can be an overwhelming process, with so much information to take in and processes. Here are the top 10 things all first home buyers should know.
- Study The House Buying Process
The first thing you need to make sure you know is how the fundamentals of the house buying process works. Research how the transaction works, what clauses are common in contracts, and what conditions generally apply, such as a cooling off period. Knowing how the property transaction is supposed to work will put you in a stronger position to be able to navigate your purchase, know what questions to ask, and what may raise alarm bells.
The next thing to make sure you have in order is your financing. Before you can put an offer in on a house, you will need to have financing confirmed. This means taling to a financial planner or your accountant to know how much you can afford to borrow, and getting pre-approval on your loan from a bank or financial institution. Having pre-approval is not necessarily necessary in order to put an offer in on a property, but it can give you the edge over other offers if the property is popular. You should also seek advice from a financial planner as to whether the particular property fits within the best strategy for you. They may also have other advice, such as whether you may be eligible to apply for the first home owner’s grant.
- Have a Large Deposit
As a first home buyer, it is important to have a large deposit. Having a healthy deposit means that you will pay less interest on the loan overall, you will have more equity available to you in the future should you need it, and you avoid costs like mortgage insurance.
- Go Through the Contract with a Fine-Toothed Comb
Yes, you will have lawyers and agents in place to handle all the details, but it is important that you are familiar with all the small details in your purchase contract. In particular, you want to make sure that there are “get-out” clauses written into the contract. This means that if something unexpected comes up during the purchase of the property, such as the discovery of major structural or pest issues with the house, you will be protected.
- Look Into The FHOG
As a first home buyer, you should look into the FHOG (first home owner’s grant) to see if you are eligible, and if this would be a good option for you. The availability of this grant varies depending on which state you are living in, but you may be eligible for $10,000 – $15,000 to help you to buy your first home. Criteria also differs between states, but generally these grants are available for those who are building a new home or buying an existing one for the first time, and are planning on living in it for at least the first 12 months.
- Seriously Consider Your Budget
Be cautious about the amount of money you are looking to borrow. Just because a bank is willing to lend you a certain amount of money, doesn’t mean you should borrow all of it. Taking out a large mortgage can put you under a significant amount of financial stress. Seek financial advice and carefully consider your budget to make sure you are not overstretching yourself by borrowing too much.
- Hire a Buyer’s Agent
Although it is not necessary to hire a buyer’s agent in order to buy a house, this can be highly beneficial. We are very familiar with seller’s agents, who are hired by vendors to sell a property, but buyer’s agents have the mandate to look out for the needs of a buyer.
- See Your Property as an Investment
Even if you are buying a house as a PPR (“principal place of residence”, that is, you are planning to live in it), this doesn’t mean it can’t be an investment. Even your PPR can be an effective investment property for you if you buy in an area which has strong potential for capital growth. You can then leverage this investment in the future to buy additional investment properties, or invest in a larger PPR.
- Look to The Future
Buying a house is a big decision, so you want to make sure you make the right choice to set yourself up for the future. You should see the decision as a step towards your next purchase. Consult with a financial planner who will be able to tell you if you should focus more on cash flow, or on building up equity.
- Look Into “Sinking Funds”
As a first home buyer with low equity, sinking funds could be a great option to increase your equity and improve your financial position. For example, by buying into strata units you could use sinking fund money (assuming the body corporate agrees) to improve the value of the property through renovations and so on. This will then increase the equity of your property which you can leverage for future purchases.