So you’re ready to buy your very first home, look at you go. With a very grown-up decision comes a lot of grown-up responsibilities, some of which you may not have considered prior to this point.
If you’re truly ready to take the property plunge, here are 12 things you should know.
1. Do you have a 20% deposit?
Yeah look, I know this is incredibly obvious, but worth covering regardless. While it’s possible to get a loan without one, a 20 per cent deposit or more will give you greater loan options and probably wipe out the requirement for Lender’s Mortgage Insurance. Save as much as you can.
2. Shop around for a loan
Again, obvious, but you should look around for the best possible loan you can get your hands on. Consider factors like fixed vs variable interest rates, additional costs, weekly repayment amount, and literally everything else.
And while we’re on that point, make sure your mortgage broker is good at their job, because they’ll be helping you through all of that stuff.
3. Think ahead when choosing a place
Consider what you want out of a house and any plans you have for the future. If you’re thinking about popping out a kid or two, you’ll wanna make sure the place you buy has enough room and is appropriate for raising kids or getting a dog. You’ll also need to consider schools in the area and things like how much of a pain it’s going to be to get to work in the mornings.
Also, will your pet like it? Just sayin’, they have to live there too. Might be worth asking what they reckon.
4. Do a lot of research into the area
As mentioned above, amenities are important, but you’ll also wanna look into things like what your neighbours might be like. For example, moving into an area with a lot of young sharehouses may mean a greater chance of frequent parties in the area.
If you can, have a chat with a few people in the area and get their take on what it’s like to live there. If they look dead behind the eyes, run.
If you don’t have a garage or a permanent spot to park, you’ll wanna ensure that there’s enough street parking. Take it from me, having to park your car two streets away from your front door with a boot full of groceries is utterly maddening.
5. Check the property like a maniac
When looking at a potential home, be sure to check absolutely everything you can. In particular, be on the lookout for mould, cracks, and other defects to make sure you won’t be hit with repair or renovation costs when you move in.
Even if you look like a total weirdo, it’s worth trading a little bit of your dignity for peace of mind, and if you can, get a property report and go through it with a lawyer.
You should also be wary of any extra costs. If you’re buying a unit, for example, you’ll probably have to pay quarterly strata fees. This point also extends to any extra costs associated with your home loan, so, you know, think hard about every single thing before you sign your life away. If any extra bills come up, pay them easily with BPAY.
6. Is there enough room for activities?
I’m sure we all know how vitally important this is.
7. Look into the First Home Owner Grant in your state
You might be eligible for a government grant if you meet the criteria, which will be a big help when it comes time to start laying some actual money down.
The conditions differ from state to state, but there’s a handy resource right here if you’re keen to know more.
8. Get ready to live that budget life
This goes without saying, but be prepared to stick to a pretty strict budget for a little while to ensure your finances are in check. Hell, if you’ve managed to save up the hefty deposit, you’re probably already acutely aware of this.
9. Be realistic
It’s important to live within your means, and even though the bank might be glad to lend you more money, higher repayments can really make your life difficult.
What I’m saying is, don’t sell out too much of your lifestyle for a house, because you’ll eventually regret it.
10. You’ll be the landlord for a change
Hell yeah, you can do whatever you want to the place. Paint the walls hot pink and put up posters of Keanu Reeves if you bloody want to, no one’s gonna stop you.
11. Take your utilities into consideration
This can be a little tricky, but try and have an idea of what utilities are gonna cost you in your new home. Will you need to fork out for a more expensive internet connection in the area? Are you moving somewhere which requires a lot of heating or cooling? Are you gonna be using a lot of power for whatever reason?
If you’re moving to, say, the Blue Mountains, your heating bill in winter is likely gonna be huge. These bills will play a part in what you’ll be able to afford.
It’s also a really good idea to set up automatic payments to avoid late fees on those bills because unexpected costs can throw your entire budget out of whack. You can do this with BPAY, which is convenient because it’s also an easy way to pay your bills anyway.
12. You might have to look outside of where you actually want to live
Depending on how much money you can get from the bank, you may have to expand your scope a little further than you initially intended, particularly if you live in Sydney or Melbourne.
I know, it’s a bummer, but think of it as a stepping stone on the way to your dream home.
I know there’s a lot to digest before embarking on the journey to your very first home, but it’s worth taking your time with it all. Think hard about the decisions you make and examine all the costs as close as you can because it could save you a lot of bloody money.
Best of luck, legends.
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