Tips & Guides

Four things you’ll want to know before buying your first home

Buying your first home is thrilling and empowering, but it’s also a huge responsibility. There’s few things you should know before you get started.


Congratulations! The fact that you’re here means you might be on the cusp of a huge life milestone. Buying your first home is thrilling and empowering, but it’s also a huge responsibility. It is possible to have fun and be practical with your first home buying journey, but there’s few things you should know before you get started.

Scope out your intentions early

The best way to avoid disappointment in the future is plotting out your expectations in advance. What will your family look like in five years? Are you planning on staying put for a long time, or upgrade in a few years if you’ve built enough equity?

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This scoping out process should be fairly easy; we’re not staring into the crystal ball here, we’re simply considering what might be possible in the near future. Is there a possibility of kids in the next 10 years? Are you likely to adopt a big dog that needs lots of outdoor space? Do you see yourself living overseas one day? Which household amenities are absolutely essential to your lifestyle? Be casual and liberal with your predictions, and write them down against a timeline of the next 15-20 years – this can actually be pretty fun with a partner.

Look beyond the superficial

Most of us have used a home inspection as an excuse to fantasize about renovations. And looking through the paint and into the potential of what a house can be is an important part of analysing your first home. The key is to be creative and practical.

Remember that repainting a room, replacing a door or getting a new mailbox can be fairly inexpensive if you can do it yourself. There are actually plenty of ways to make your home feel more yours, that don’t require replacing floorboards and kitchen sets. If you are committed to a house, but you know it’s going to need some work – and the work is going to cost money – be sure to put aside a realistic budget for renovation costs.

Don’t convince yourself to spend more than you can afford

Trust me. It’s absolutely understandable to get swept up in the moment, especially during such a critical and exciting point in your life. Consider you find ‘The One’, the house of your dreams, and it’s just 10% more than your maximum budget. Well… you could always, of course, stop eating takeout once a week, cancel the gym membership you don’t use, and start taking public transport instead of driving to work. It might seem doable and even worth it, but be very careful about tying yourself down to an enormous asset that demands great discipline in your spending habits. Consider how much you are really willing to sacrifice in order to increase your budget, and don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re scrambling to afford your mortgage every month. No house is worth jeopardising your future financial security.

Price tags don’t tell the full story

Just because you have a maximum budget of $600K, let’s say, does not mean you should be looking at $600K houses. Remember that buying a house can come with a lot of additional financial baggage – insurance, stamp duty, council rates, lender’s mortgage insurance, renovation costs etc. These will vary depending on your situation, budget and the local laws of the place you’re moving to, so do your research and itemise your budget accordingly. This will give you a better idea of the kinds of prices you should be looking out for.

 

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