Buying Your First Home: Tips and Techniques

After reading an article in the Herald Sun entitled ‘Double shot at buying property‘, it appears that ‘partnering up to break into the property market is becoming even more popular as the proportion of single buyers dwindles’. I must have missed the memo that states single buyers are dwindling; I can’t say that I know of any single people who have recently purchased property. My university friends and other young adults that I know are already struggling with the costs of everyday living, and I can’t imagine any one of us being in a position to buy a home of our own in the near future.

Image borrowed from www.worldpropertychannel.com

Image borrowed from www.worldpropertychannel.com

Nevertheless, I believe that there are ways in which this apparently insurmountable problem can be tackled. As the article explains, ‘while saving a deposit is a tough challenge, first-home buyers should try to build up a deposit of at least 20 per cent so they can avoid hefty costs, including paying lender’s mortgage insurance, which could be thousands of dollars’. Well, that’s a good place to start—while you are living at home, SAVE, SAVE, SAVE! But what else do you need to know and how do you go about buying your first property?

 Surf the net

Facts show that 80 per cent of house sales and searches begin on the Internet. That’s handy, seeing as the whole of Australia now has a smart phone! Picking a specific area or suburb will also make searching for your first home easier by limiting the number of available options. Once you have a house in mind, use Google Maps to find out about nearby amenities, such as that all-important pub, or the primary school you may need in time.

Look at houses within your budget

Only look for houses you know you will be able to afford, from the initial selling price to the electricity, gas and water bills. There is no point in purchasing a massive property when you will not be able to handle all the payments that will inevitably come flying in at a later date.

Make an informed choice

Studies suggest that your memory improves after you eat complex carbohydrates. Prior to a day of house hunting, have a big bowl of pasta and lay off the soft drinks. The average number of properties that a buyer will look at in a single day is seven; any more than that and you can expect your brain to be fried! Don’t anticipate seeing twenty or thirty houses in one day—not only is it physically impossible, you won’t remember important details about any of them.

Keep a record of each viewing

Bring a digital camera and take photos of each house so that you can remind yourself of the pluses and minuses of each property at the end of a long day of house hunting. Make a note of their most appealing features. Do you like the location? Is it close to public transport? Is there parking readily available? Do you need a parking permit? Immediately after leaving a house, jot down a few thoughts and rate it out of ten.

View your top choices a second time

After spending a few days exploring your options, you will get a feel for the top two or three homes that meet your requirements—ask to see these houses again. At the second viewing, you may see them through different eyes and notice things that you overlooked the first time. It’s a good idea to take a family member or a friend with you this time, as another pair of eyes may be able to offer further insights.

Be patient

Ideally, buying your first home would be nice and quick—you fall in love with the first house you walk into, then after a 90-day settlement you have moved in. In reality, this scenario is highly unlikely, and it could take anywhere from days to years to complete. After all, a house isn’t like that dress you bought on sale and can return while the tags are still attached within 14 days of purchase; it is a huge financial investment and requires careful consideration.

Make an offer

Once you’ve found your dream home, make an offer within the asking price and be prepared to negotiate with the vendors. This could potentially save you a few thousand dollars. Next, head to the estate agent and sign on the dotted line. Finally, buy a bottle of champagne, start collecting boxes and get packing—moving day will come around before you know it.

Happy house hunting!

By Brittany Grimble

Hi I’m Britt :) Just finished second year of media and communications at Swinburne at Hawthorn. Just discovered the wonders of Twitter, and have become addicted. Avid Collingwood supporter; yet I still do have all my teeth.

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