As with any large investment, research and preparation is key to make the process as seamless, risk-free and enjoyable as possible.
The following tips can help make your first home purchase a happy experience, without the hiccups.
Get finance pre-approval
Pre-approval takes the guesswork out of the financial side of purchasing a home. It gives you an accurate figure of how much the bank is willing to lend you, based on the serviceability that your income can manage. It also considers any other existing assets and liabilities you might have.
Gaining pre-approval means you don’t put forward offers you can’t afford, and you also reduce your risk of losing a holding deposit from finance falling through.
Pre-approval also prevents you from straying from your budget. It sets a firm ceiling on what you can spend, making you less vulnerable to overextending yourself in a bidding war.
Do your suburb research
Buyers often have multiple suburbs in mind when searching for a home but it’s important to know them well, including home values, schooling options, strengths and weaknesses.
A specific suburb might seem to offer better value in terms of house prices, but it’s important to look into the details. You might find that its local school options aren’t up to your standards, or perhaps its public transport is troublesome.
In these cases, sometimes it's a matter of weighing up whether you value location and convenience or the size and features of a home more.
Stand your ground in negotiations
The idea of owning a home can be very exciting to first-time buyers, and that's why they should remain extra diligent in negotiations.
Set firm boundaries before embarking on your search and be ready to step back and let properties go when they transcend your budget.
Get clear on any downfalls or vulnerabilities you see in the property and communicate these to the agent - that way it’s clear what you’re willing to spend and why.
Do your due diligence
Doing your due diligence means you protect yourself from any unexpected and unwelcome surprises. There are experts you can engage to help you on this one. Pest and building reports help you to gain a thorough understanding of any building defects or major issues of the home which will require attention and money to rectify.
These reports give advice on the severity of issues, which you can then use to decide if you’re willing to go ahead with the property purchase.
For townhouses and apartments, it’s important to get your hands on a strata report. There are strata specialists who can help to gather and decipher any strata information, read through meeting minutes and provide their educated advice. They often have experience reading and creating hundreds of strata reports, so are well equipped to advise against problematic purchases.
Get in touch with a well recommended conveyancer
When you’ve never experienced the home buying process before, it can be very confusing. That’s why a good conveyancer is absolutely essential in aiding and protecting your best interests.
Most real estate agents will be able to recommend a good conveyancer as they often know the best local conveyancers who are regularly used in the area.
A good conveyancer can not only take care of the legalities of a purchase but can alter and enter clauses specific to your circumstances, advise you of next steps and of your own obligations.
The guidance they provide on the overall process is invaluable and can make the difference between an overwhelming experience and a positive experience.
Get building and contents insurance prior to settlement
Proof of building and contents insurance is often required by your bank prior to settlement.
Many first-home buyers don’t realise this and get caught out rushing to purchase a policy on settlement day, robbing themselves of the opportunity to shop around properly.
It's important to do your research on policies well in advance and have this in place for settlement day to avoid doing a rush job on insurance. Being organised on this one means that your policy will cover everything you need it to, and you’ll be able to shop around for the best deal.
Research and preparation is key when purchasing your first property. It can help to ensure you get your money’s worth of value, and that you're 100 percent happy with your new home.