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Your first home buyer checklist

5 key steps to finding your first home

When you start hunting for your first home, it can feel like you’ve landed on another planet.

Strange word combinations like ‘stamp duty’ and ‘credit score’ pop up in conversations. And there are multiple legal terms like ‘contingency’ to get your head around. Of course, there’s also the pressure of making one of the biggest personal and financial decisions you’ll ever make!

To eliminate the confusion and stress, we’ve put together a first home buyer checklist. These steps will provide a general understanding of what lies ahead to help you stay in control throughout the process.  

1. Research the market

Start by writing a list of the key criteria you’d like your home to have, such as:

  • Location (close to shops, schools, parks, etc)
  • Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Parking
  • Type of property (apartment, townhouse, house)

Conduct some research on similar housing in the areas you’re looking at. Start by speaking to a local real estate agent. Find out the pricing of properties recently sold and uncover market trends to find out if prices are increasing or decreasing.

2. Determine how much you can afford

After getting an understanding of what the market is like, work out how much you can afford for a home loan.

Most banks offer an online calculator to assist with the process, but we suggest lining up a meeting your bank directly or a mortgage broker. They’ll provide advice on your borrowing capability, plus your monthly or fortnightly repayment capacity. You need to consider future ongoing costs as well, including groceries, electricity and water bills, etc.

3. Understand other upfront costs

While you may have saved enough for a deposit, there are a bunch of other upfront costs you need to be aware of. These include:

  • Government fees and charges
  • Legal and conveyancing fees
  • Pest and building inspections
  • Moving costs

As a first home buyer in Australia, you might be eligible for the First Home Owners Grant to offset the stamp duty (house tax). The criteria differ from state to state, so it’s best to ask your bank or mortgage broker for assistance with your application.

4. Get pre-approved

Before jumping into house-hunting mode, ensure your home loan is pre-approved and ready to go.

Valid for 3-6 months, a pre-approved loan is arranged after your lender reviews your income, expenses, and credit report and agrees to lend a set amount of money for your mortgage.

In preparation, you’ll need to collect items such as:

  • Group certificates
  • Pay slips
  • Statements of debts
  • 100 points of identification (driver’s licence, passport etc), and
  • Evidence of your deposit

Your lender will advise of anything else required.

5. Start looking for your first home

After completing the first four steps, it’s time for the fun part. Finding your first home!

Get in touch with your local real estate agent and talk about your key criteria. Ask them to sign you up to Listing Loop so you can be the first to know about suitable just listed properties. Once you’re registered, you’ll be instantly alerted when there’s a new property that matches what you’re looking for, or you can log into your Listing Loop dashboard anytime to see your property matches.  

If you have any questions about how Listing Loop works, ask your real estate agent or check out our FAQs here.