8 things savvy first-home buyers do before they buy property

Tips

Your home is probably one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Take the following steps to maximise the chances of it being a great investment.


When it comes to buying a property, it’s fair to say it’s going to be one of the biggest purchases you ever make.

It’s one of the most complex, too.

Objectively, it makes complete sense to bide your time and gain as much knowledge and insight as you can, before you sign on the dotted line.

Peter van der Westhuyzen, Head of Institutional and Direct at Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group, says, “The biggest pitfall when buying property is not doing your research. People rush in and buy, and are left to deal with the consequences.

“You need to take a step back and make sure it’s a logical, well-researched and considered decision, not an emotional one, and not a rushed one.”

With that in mind, here are eight things you need to know before you start your property search.


1. Carefully consider the types of property you can really afford

Before you start looking at property or even suburbs, make sure you know how much you can afford. That doesn’t mean the maximum you can borrow, it means the maximum you’re prepared to pay each month.

Home loan repayments – plus the associated costs of owning a home – impact your monthly budget far more than rental payments do.

Plan your budget with your home loan repayments in mind (use our calculator to get an estimate) and live on your new budget for three months – remembering to put away a sum every month for maintenance.

That way you can ensure your mortgage doesn’t become a millstone, and you are able to live your life the way you want to.

Don’t forget, when you purchase property there are a number of other upfront costs to cover too, including stamp duty – so make sure you factor those in.

After that, apply for pre-approval, so you can look at property with intent, rather than hope.

2. Research the local area. Then do some more research

There’s no such thing as being too informed when it comes to buying property, so take your time to know as much as you can about the suburbs you’ve identified as having potential.

Research property prices and trends in the local area – CoreLogic, Domain and Realestate.com.au are great places to start.

Talk to real estate agents and your mortgage broker to get a sense of what’s happening in the local area. Make sure you understand how properties are valued and how that differs from what the list price may be.


3. Take the time to sniff out any issues with the property

Once you’ve found a property you’re interested in, you need to make sure it has no nasty hidden surprises. Smell for mould, and animal-related odours. Knock on walls to see if they sound hollow. Open the dryer and the dishwasher – you never know if pests are living in there.

Does the toilet flush properly? Does the heating/air-conditioning work? Is the flue functioning above the fireplace? Is the water pressure okay? Do the appliances work? Does the studio out the back have council approval?

Ask questions, and don’t be afraid of asking more.


4. Work with experienced professionals

With such a big purchase, it makes sense to surround yourself with experts. Hire the most thorough, licensed home inspector you can find to pinpoint any issues that could potentially end up becoming costly repairs.

Work with a mortgage broker to ensure your finance is structured to meet your needs, and talk to a financial adviser about the realities of home ownership. To avoid conflict, make sure your lawyer is not also representing the seller.


5. Use your head, not your heart

Many good things in life come from following your heart. Property ownership is rarely one of them. Don't be afraid to walk away if the deal isn’t right. There will be other properties. Remember that this is a financial transaction and your terms must be met.


6. Negotiate as much as you can

As a buyer, you should feel in control and as though you have nothing to lose through robust negotiation. Ensure you negotiate as hard as you can. While an extra $10,000 or $20,000 may not seem much in the grand scheme of things, when you’re dealing with a six or seven figure deal, it all adds up.


7. Don't let yourself feel pressured

Always remember, real estate agents are expert salespeople, and they are working for the vendor. It’s usually in their interests to get a quick sale at the highest possible price. To achieve this they may put pressure on you to make an offer ‘before someone else snatches it up’. If you feel rushed at all, back away. You’re less likely to make a decision you regret if you take the time to consider it properly and objectively.


8. The search can take longer than you think

Don't operate on someone else's timeline and don't make commitments that will make things challenging if your property hunt takes a few months longer than you anticipated. If you're renting, stay on a month-to-month agreement so that you are able to move without penalty.

When you’re ready to discuss your home loan options and pre-approval, call one of our specialists on 13 62 27.

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