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How to buy your first home… from a first-home buyer

By Rick Schafer

Except for having your children come into the world (or fur baby in my case), there really are few feelings of exhilaration, joy and pride than when your first house purchase settles. A leap in the air is an understatement and picking up the keys is just as wonderful.

But much like a 110-metre hurdle race at the Olympics – there are a few obstacles you must overcome before you can dip your head for victory at the finish line.

BROKER

So, you’ve decided it’s time for you to buy your first home? Congratulations! The very first thing you should do, before hitting the REA and Domain portals, is to sit down with your broker and go through exactly what you can and can’t afford.

I worked from day one through to day of settlement with Loan Market and it’s safe to say my purchase wouldn’t have happened without their expert guidance.

There’s something comforting knowing exactly what you can and can’t afford. And it’s more important to know what you can’t afford because that leads to disappointment down the track.

Your broker will guide you every step of the way but be prepared to be told that the first option for finance has turned you down, that’s exactly what happened to me!

A big-four bank wasn’t happy with my postcode to lend at 95 per cent LVR and I thought that was my dream over. But nope, after a reassuring chat with my broker, I was approved by bank number two within a week.

Buying a house and everything that goes with it is a stressful experience and going with a broker helps dramatically mitigate the financial stress of things. Oh, did I mention that you don’t pay them a cent for their wonderful work?!

‘THE’ HOUSE

It’s easy to get swept up in the hysteria of buying your first home, and actually, you’ll find your brain making compromises with yourself to make it happen sooner rather than later.

You should have a solid list ready. What do you definitely want? What can you compromise on? What is an absolute no-go? You’ll find as you meander through the process you’ll say to yourself ‘I can live with that’ – but try to ignore that voice.

When my partner and I were looking, we had seen a few different places, but sat on top of our ‘definitely want’ list was a dog.

We went to see a new-build and got seduced. It was going to look wonderful when built, had all bells-and-whistles appliances, but what did it lack? A yard.

Before we knew it, we had thrown away the fur baby and were all-in on this shiny new townhouse that had a big balcony but no grass, to the point where we put down a refundable deposit.

We continued the look and found another townhouse, literally three roads away and it had the yard, and what we really wanted started to come back to us. To do justice to ourselves, we had to check it out.

We fell in love and had an offer in that night. And the rest, as they say, is history.

NEGOTIATION

Just kidding. Be prepared for negotiation from the vendor, because, at the end of the day, they want the best price possible for their home.

There will usually be a figure ‘A’ and a figure ‘B’ and there will be a figure ‘C’ that both parties end up agreeing on, somewhere in the middle.

Building and Pest in an absolute MUST when it comes to buying any existing property. The report goes into incredible detail and will give you an exact idea of building stability, quality, structural analysis and any week that needs doing.

Mine came back with a few minors and this actually aided me in negotiating a full bond clean because of the extra work I would have to carry out.

Once the offer has been accepted…

CONVEYANCER

Hire a trusted conveyancer to go through the contract to make sure everything is as it should be and there are no skeletons to knock you out of the race.

And they may end up saving your whole purchase…

For me, settlement hit a snag on settlement day, believe me when I saw this is not what you want.

Turns out my bank forgot to send me a form so my funds could not be released. This was at 3.15pm on a Thursday – and if settlement didn’t happen on Friday – the whole deal and my deposit was in jeopardy.

Fear not, the conveyancer came up with an ingenious back-up plan, to have the funds placed in their already approved trust account. Voila! Settlement on the Friday happened without a hitch.

The other positive of a conveyancer is they prompt you throughout the journey for when payment like Stamp Duty needs to be made. A house purchase shouldn’t be made without one!

HOUSEKEEPING

So, you own your home! Woohoo! Now comes the part where you have to leave your home to move into the one you have purchased.

If you are having to break lease, make sure this is done well in advance because that way, you have the best possible chance for the property to be re-leased and that keeps your costs to a minimum.

Then it’s a matter of take your pick from the following list… do you need a bond clean on your current property? Do you need a removal team? If any jobs are required from building and pest, do you need tradespeople? Do you need air-conditioning installed?

These are all things that need to be considered before you move in and things that should be taken care of, if needed, to make moving day as painless as possible.

The key thing to remember is, nothing in the world worth having comes easy, so be prepared for there to be lots of logistics and paperwork.

Is the 110-metre hurdle race simple? No. But is it worth it? Absolutely! You get to stand on your own metaphorical podium, and instead of a gold medal, it’s a key to unlock your dream home.

Source: raywhite.com

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