Buy­ing your first Australian home or apart­ment is an ex­cit­ing step in your life, but it also re­quires a lot of care­ful plan­ning.

You’ll need to save for a de­posit, re­search what you want in a home, ar­range your first home loan pre-ap­proval, go to in­spec­tions to find your per­fect prop­erty, bid or ne­go­ti­ate an ac­cept­able price, then go through a num­ber of checks be­fore you can fi­nally be­come a home owner.

To help you keep track of the most im­por­tant things you need to know, we’ve put to­gether this helpful lit­tle list.

1. Save for a de­posit

The first step to buy­ing a prop­erty is sav­ing for a de­posit. As a gen­eral rule, you will re­quire at least 10 per cent of the pur­chase price up-front be­fore you are able to buy a home, so de­cide what price range to aim for and cre­ate a sav­ings plan. In cer­tain cases, it’s pos­si­ble to pur­chase with a lower de­posit. How­ever, the size of your de­posit could im­pact how much you can bor­row, whether you need to take out lenders mort­gage in­sur­ance, and even your in­ter­est rate. The more you can save, the bet­ter chance you’ll have at se­cur­ing a home loan with con­di­tions that bet­ter suit you. There are fees you may have to pay on top of the fi­nal sale price, in­clud­ing set­tle­ment, le­gal fees and any other gov­ern­ment fees and charges which may ap­ply.

2. Find the right home loan

Once you have your de­posit sorted, you’ll need to start or­gan­is­ing your first home loan. It’s worth tak­ing the time to do some pre­lim­i­nary bud­get­ing first, and work out how much you’ll be able to af­ford in re­pay­ments based on your in­come and liv­ing costs. Mort­gage bro­kers can pro­vide advice

on a loan that might suit your cir­cum­stances.

They can also ne­go­ti­ate deals with lenders that might not be avail­able pub­licly, and man­age the buy­ing process for you through to the set­tle­ment of your con­tract.

It’s best to look for a mort­gage bro­ker who comes per­son­ally rec­om­mended or is well es­tab­lished lo­cally and can help you shop around for the best deal.

3. Start looking at houses

Once you’re pre-ap­proved for your first home loan, you can shop around for a home that matches what you want and need within your bud­get. Con­sider the con­di­tion of the prop­erty when mak­ing your choice, as well as the prox­im­ity to the ameni­ties you might need, such as schools and pub­lic trans­port. If you’re think­ing about us­ing the prop­erty as an in­vest­ment, you should also be looking at ren­tal prices in the area to gauge whether you’ll have to make up a por­tion of the re­pay­ments af­ter col­lect­ing rent.

4. Or­gan­ise con­tracts and build­ing in­spec­tions

Once you’ve found your ideal home, make sure to get your con­tract checked by a con­veyancer or so­lic­i­tor. In most cases, your so­lic­i­tor or con­veyancer can also help you to ar­range prop­erty in­spec­tions to ad­dress any safety con­cerns and check that any le­gal and reg­u­la­tory build­ing re­quire­ments are in good order, be­fore you make your fi­nal pur­chase. You, your so­lic­i­tor or con­veyancer should con­sider get­ting a builder or sur­veyor to per­form a build­ing and pest in­spec­tion. If you’re buy­ing an apart­ment, it’s also worth do­ing a strata check to make sure there are no ma­jor build­ing im­prove­ments com­ing up that you will have to pay for.

5. Buy your house

If the prop­erty passes these tests and you’re sat­is­fied with your choice, you’re ready to ei­ther make an of­fer or bid at the auc­tion. If suc­cess­ful, you will need to pay the agreed de­posit amount. The pe­riod of set­tle­ment — when all the pa­per­work has been com­pleted and you get the keys to your new place — can vary greatly, and should be agreed prior to pur­chase. Again, your lawyer or con­veyancer will be able to handle this process, as there are other le­gal checks to go through dur­ing the ex­change pe­riod. A mort­gage bro­ker can guide you through what the next steps will be, while ex­plain­ing any ques­tions you have about the home loan process. As set­tle­ment ap­proaches, you can re­quest one fi­nal prop­erty in­spec­tion to en­sure ev­ery­thing is as it should be. This is es­pe­cially rec­om­mended if the seller had promised to do any re­pairs or re­move rub­bish. Once ev­ery­thing is in good order, you can col­lect the keys and open the door to your new home!

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