How first-home buyers can avoid costly mistakes

Whether it’s a new apartment or an old one – or even a house in the outer suburbs – finding an affordable home isn’t easy for anyone starting out. And in all the excitement of house hunting, it’s all too easy to make mistakes. The following tips are designed to put first-home buyers on the path to achievable and manageable property acquisition:

Gain pre-approval

Just knowing you qualify for a home loan is not enough. Before you start looking at properties, go to lenders and find out how much they are willing to lend you. This will help you focus your attention on houses you can afford, so you can avoid the disappointment of finding your dream home and then learning you can’t have it.

Understand your mortgage options

Getting a home loan is relatively easier today than it was in the past when you had to save for years for your deposit. But it’s also riskier and can be more expensive. A no-deposit loan comes with the added cost of mortgage insurance. Would you be better off making a deposit and saving on the ongoing cost of mortgage insurance? Get advice from a variety of lenders and discuss all your options with them.

Don’t borrow beyond your means

Many first-home buyers make the grievous mistake of borrowing beyond their capabilities. This can stretch your finances to the limit and will not allow you to make improvements to your property when you move in. Worse still, you might not be able to afford to enjoy life in your new home. If you face unforeseen financial problems, it could mean having to sell your house before you have substantial equity in it.

Be proactive

Too many first-home buyers rely solely on the expertise of their local real estate agencies. You should take a proactive approach and do independent research. You can easily find auction results in your local paper and online. Narrow your searches down to the suburbs and even streets where you want to buy and you can find out what properties are selling for. When a vendor’s agent, who will always be acting on their client’s behalf, gives you a price, you will be in a position to make a realistic counter-offer. If you buy at auction, you will avoid paying too much.

Get a pre-purchase inspection report

Some of the best real estate deals are older homes that need minor or cosmetic repairs and renovations. Some of the worst deals are older homes that need costly major repairs. Those major repair jobs are usually hidden from view. Saving a few dollars by not getting a pre-purchase inspection report from an independent building inspector can cost you thousands of dollars after you move into your home. To be on the safe side, have a pest inspection carried out as well.

Don’t underestimate additional costs

When you buy a home, you pay more than just the cost of the house. Some additional costs include:

home insurancemoving costsinspection reportsstamp dutycouncil ratestransfer fees.

Know your costs and budget ahead of time and you won’t be losing sleep when you move into your new home.

Remove emotion from the equation

Buying your first home is an emotional experience, so it’s too easy to let your emotions blind you. Take your cue from lenders to home renovators, who think of only one thing when they buy a house: “What will my return on investment be?” If a professional doesn’t think a house offers a good return on their investment, they walk away. So should you.

(Source: Rob Schneider)