Wednesday, 27 May, 2020

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The top things to remember when buying your first home

Buying your first home is a real rollercoaster ride. Picture by Damian Shaw

Buying your first property is a true whirlwind of emotions, ranging from complete panic to sheer relief and joy.

Having just been through the process with my girlfriend Emily, there was so much to learn and so many unexpected lessons that I wish I knew about before starting the 18- month long journey.

Having decided we were ready to buy back in late 2017, the easiest part of the whole process was attending open homes.

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While it does take up a lot of your Saturday and there is plenty of running around and killing time, you really get a sense of what properties suit your needs and the features that you aren’t willing to sacrifice.

Getting finance approved early on is very important. Source: Istock

Be prepared to be inundated with agent phone calls on the following Monday though, with each and every one keen to get your opinion to see whether there is something else they can interest you in.

Of course all of the searching means little without finance, which is required to make any offers on a property. We used a mortgage broker to help us through the various stages, which involved gathering plenty of information on our earnings and spending habits.

The process can take a little while to complete, but once it was all sorted and our finance was approved, we had a clear idea of what we could afford and the properties to look at.

After a few more months of continued searching, we both finally decided on an apartment we liked and were willing to submit an offer on.

Preparation is key. Picture by Damian Shaw

It is really hard to gauge where to start your negotiations, as no one other than professionals who deal with it every day have much of an idea when it comes to buying property.

The majority of people only go through the whole process around three times in their life, so any parental advice we sought out was purely guess work.

As a general rule and if you are the first to put in an offer, as we were, we tried to go as low as possible without wanting it to seem insulting. Our initial offer was quickly rejected, but over the next few days we were able to get to a point where everyone was happy.

It’s easy to forget when negotiating that the agent isn’t on your side. While they certainly seem to make things easier and are as friendly as possible, they are trying to get the highest price for their clients.

It was important that I kept reminding myself that every dollar mattered and not to bid against myself if no one else was interested.

We looked at plenty of apartments to get a better understanding of what we liked. Source: Istock

After four days of nervous negotiating, our offer was finally accepted, which is when the real fun began. The next week was all about getting through the cooling-off period, securing a solicitor to go over the contract and strata report, while also ensuring that we could get unconditional finance approved.

It’s a stressful time but it’s important that you really weigh up whether this is the right decision and don’t get caught up in the excitement of being so close to locking down your first home.

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An important word of advice to remember is that a lot of banks have daily limits, so the easiest way to pay the 10 per cent deposit, we found, is with a bank cheque.

With everything sorted, we had a three-month settlement period to get through, which is the perfect time to get a strong grasp of all the bank documents and save some extra money. We also needed to inspect the property beforehand to check everything was still there and in working order.

Upon settlement, it’s crucial you have sufficient funds in your account to pay for any fees, something which could have saved myself a day of stress trying to transfer extra money into our account.


At the end of the day, I think its really important you relax and enjoy the journey. It isn’t everyday that you get to buy your first home.