If you’re looking to buy your very first home there’s a lot on your mind. Here’s a cheat sheet to remind you of some of the factors you should be considering.
Some of the more important issues include location, price, amenities, changing needs, reading the market, and the question of buying new, renovated or unrenovated.
If you’re falling in love with a property, it’s time to stop and think about these bigger picture questions.
The most important thing to consider so far as location is concerned is proximity to the things that matter most in your life – your job, friends, family and places you visit regularly.
Many first home buyers have limited finances, as they’re in the early stages of a career or they may be trying to buy a property on a single income.
You’ll need to consider transportation costs as well as mortgage repayments when budgeting to buy a home. For example, will living a long way from your job mean that you have to buy a second car? How would that impact your household budget.
Finally, look closely at the lifestyle implications. There’s no point buying miles from cafes if great coffee and cafe atmosphere is important to you.
The basic premise is to buy the best house you can afford. If you can afford it today, it should be even easier in the future as your income increases (assuming interest rates remain fairly stable).
The best way to calculate what you can afford is to approach your bank and find out what they can do for you. At the same time, get a second opinion by asking a mortgage broker to find you a good deal. It’s a competitive market and there are lots of great options out there if you ask around and do your homework.
Transport: For those who work out of home, proximity to reliable transport is important. To be only a short walk from the bus, tram, ferry or train station is not only convenient, but a great selling point to highlight if you live in one of the major capital cities of Australia.
If you’re intending to drive to work every day, proximity to transport may not be as important, but it’s still handy (and better for the planet).
Shops: We don’t just mean the butcher or supermarket, though they’re pretty important. Cafes and restaurants play a larger role in our lives today than they did 20 years ago.
Being able to walk to King St, Newtown (Sydney), Lygon St, Carlton (Melbourne) or The Parade, Norwood (Adelaide) are big draw cards. You might also want to be near a farmers market if you prefer to buy local. Know what’s important to you and determine if it’s nearby.
Health: Even if you’re fighting fit, it’s a comfort to know there’s a doctor or a hospital handy when you need it. If health is a concern for you or a member of your family, it’s even more important to have medical assistance reasonably accessible.
Schools: If you already have children or are planning to have a family, proximity to schools is very important as this is a trip you will have to make over a thousand times.
Ideally, you would like to be walking distance to the children’s school. If you have teenage children, then living in the zone of a highly sought-after school is vital. People pay a premium to live in an area which allows their children to go to a school with a good reputation.
If you’ve found the perfect location and don’t imagine moving for a long time, consider whether you can accommodate the changes in life.
Is there a room to extend, put in another bedroom, living area, bathroom? If you’re planning kids, is there enough room for them to play and grow?
Is there car parking for more than one car? Is a unit sufficient or will you need to buy a house with some land?
While it’s impossible to know everything that life will serve up, it’s important to think about how your first home will fit into your future hopes and plans, especially if you’ve found one that’s a keeper.
Reading the market
An easy way to tell if it is a good time to buy is when it’s a less than great time to sell.
The upside of falling prices and a lack of confidence is that there are usually bargains to be had for buyers. A slowing or underwhelming market is often the perfect time to take your first step onto the housing ladder.
New, renovated or unrenovated?
There’s no right or wrong answer on this one. It boils down to your budget, tastes, ambitions and tolerance for things like repairs.
If you’re looking to buy a new home and don’t have unlimited funds, this generally means you’ll be buying a new house on the outskirts of the metropolitan area or a small apartment in the city.
The nice thing about buying a renovated home is that the hard work has been done for you, and you can get straight down to moving in and enjoying your new place. The downside is that you’ll generally pay a premium for somebody else’s handy work.
An unrenovated property provides you with a great opportunity to add value in the short term and put your own stamp on your home. But you need to be honest about your renovation skills.
Many a bank account and relationship have been strained by renovations that go over budget and more commonly, over time. If immediate peace and enjoyment matters more, you may want to opt for a renovated property.
These are just some of the things you should be thinking about, and they’ll be others that speak directly to your circumstances.
If you need further assistance please don't hesitate to speak to one of our property experts.
Best of luck with your journey!