10 October 2019

4 things first home buyers need to know

Adrian Atelj

Planning on buying your first home? That’s great! But it can be stressful getting your head around everything you need to know. You don’t want to overlook anything when you’re putting so much into this decision. Read on for some tips that will help you navigate the buying process.

1. How to secure a loan The first step to getting your loan is seeking pre-approval for your buying budget. It’s important to understand that every lender is different. They will all place certain requirements on you but specific conditions vary between institutions.

Getting finance has become more difficult since the banking royal commission. Lenders are scrutinising personal expenses like never before, so don’t be surprised if they question your Netflix subscription or how many coffees you drink per day!

First time buying is hard enough, so we at homes.com.au recommend getting a mortgage broker to help secure your finance. Brokers can match your financial situation to lenders that are more likely to approve you.

You should also ask family and friends about their experiences with lenders; and use websites that can help you compare mortgage interest rates, like Compare the Market.

2. Are you eligible for government help? The federal government and many state governments offer a range of benefits to support first home buyers. These include First Home Owner Grants (FHOG) and stamp duty exemptions and concessions up to certain buying price points.

“First home buying becomes a lot more affordable if you take advantage of grants and stamp duty concessions in your state,” said homes.com.au Founder & Managing Director, Pat Carbone.

“For example, in NSW, first timers pay no stamp duty if they’re buying a new or established property under $650,000; and concessional duty up to $800,000.

“Those buying land to build their first home get a $10,000 FHOG if they buy under $750,000, or $600,000 if they’re buying an apartment off-the-plan.”

The specific benefits available vary according to the policy of the day. To understand current policies, you’ll need to do your research. Have a look at the Housing and Property section of the federal government website and the Buying a Home section of MoneySmart.

3. Always get professional advice Professional advice is invaluable for all property buyers. While it might be tempting to avoid the cost of advice, it’s a drop in the bucket when you consider the money you’re investing in your first home.

Always get a strata report, building inspection and pest inspection before committing to buying. Inspectors will check both the interiors and exteriors of your property from top to bottom to prevent any rude shocks down the track.

When it comes to the final stages, make sure a solicitor with property expertise or a qualified conveyancer reviews your contract before you sign it. They can also advise you on every aspect of transferring the legal title of the property you’re buying over to you.

4. Other sources of information about the property On top of professional advice, you can also do your own research on the property you’re interested in buying.

Look for environmental hazards that could place the property at risk and drive up insurance costs, like bushfire and flood zones. Check with the local council for zoning regulations and proposed developments that could impact the property.

If it’s in an apartment complex, read the strata by-laws and visit the area at different times of the day to assess neighbourhood noise and parking conditions.


You can never do too much preparation when buying your first home. Remember, you are investing in your financial future with this first purchase, so it’s important to get it right.

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