Save and research
- Work out a budget so you know how much you can afford to repay every week
- Know how much you can borrow and how much your repayments will be. Make sure you factor in rate rises.
- Add your extra costs such as stamp duty, (you may get stamp duty discounts as a first home buyer), conveyancing fees, inspection fees and rates. If you’re in the defence forces you get an exemption from the first home buyer grant residential requirements.
- Figure out your priorities, for example do you want an apartment or townhouse close to the city or town centre, or would you prefer to have a freestanding home in a cheaper area? Are schools in the area or other amenities important to you?
Consider your options: a rent-vestor rents where they want to live and buys property in a less desirable location. You could also consider buying with a family member or friend but make sure you have a legal agreement in place for what happens if someone wants or needs to sell their share. Also be aware that you’re liable for the full mortgage if your partner doesn’t pay their share.
- A deposit of 20% is ideal as you won’t have to pay lender’s mortgage insurance.
- Set up a savings account or term deposit or use the First Home Super Saver Scheme for up to $30,000 of savings. Use the Super Saver Estimator to see how much you can save over time.
- Work out a budget so you’re setting aside money every week. You can also figure out how long it will take you to reach your savings goal of a deposit.
- If you’re struggling with affordability, consider the HomesVic shared equity initiative.
- Check weekly auction results.
- Attend property auctions. This is important to get a realistic picture of how much properties are going for compared to the advertised price.
- Is private sale an option in your area or will you have to bid at auction? Know your rights and responsibilities for whichever is likely.
You should research and make decisions on the following:
- buyer’s agent, mortgage broker or financial adviser
- which loan to get, including rates and lenders fees
- which solicitor or conveyancer to use
- which accredited inspectors to use, for example building inspectors, pest inspectors if you’re buying in a termite prone area
Get ready to buy
- Talk to your boss if necessary about flexible work arrangements to attend inspections or make appointments.
- Short-list a couple of suitable properties and inspect them. Consider bringing someone along to give you reassurance and an unemotional second opinion.
- Test travel times to work to make sure the location works.
- If you plan to buy at auction, arrange a pre-approved loan. You cannot make the contract of sale subject to finance without the vendor's agreement if you buy at auction.
- Get a statement of information from agents. Ask the agent about any items that appear to be fixtures of the property but could instead be items (personal chattels), which the seller may remove at settlement.
- Get a building inspection and pest inspection if one isn’t available and you’ve decided it’s important. If buying at auction, make sure you get the inspection report before the auction, as you cannot put conditions on the contract of sale at an auction without the vendor's agreement. If it’s a private sale see if you can make the purchase subject to a building inspection.
- Gather documentation required to apply for home loan and apply for pre-approval. This includes proof of identity, payslips or a tax return to demonstrate repayment capacity, savings account statements or evidence of a deposit.
- Make sure your deposit is available, so you can pay when required by the agent.
- Develop a strategy for bidding at auction or for making an offer for a private sale.
- understand your cooling-off rights.
Buy a home
Your first offer may not be successful. The lost time and money from inspections can be frustrating. Try to think about the journey as a cycle rather than a linear process. Each offer gives you more knowledge to refine your search.
- Exchange the contracts and read them carefully.
- Get your legal practitioner or conveyancer to check the section 32 vendor’s statement and the contract of sale. and documentation for settlement. Another option is buying a kit to do your own conveyancing.
- Arrange payment of deposit on exchange of contracts.
- Negotiate a settlement period that suits you and the current owner.
- Gather all the required documentation.
- Provide your deposit.
- Give notice with your current landlord if you’re renting
- Check all items you believe come with the property are in good working order and stated on the contract of sale.
- Finalise the full home loan contract with the lender.
- Complete the final inspection. Check everything off in the due diligence checklist provided by the estate agent.
- Get mortgage insurance if your deposit is under 20%.
- Consider income protection insurance to protect yourself in the event of illness or unemployment so you can continue to meet your mortgage repayments.
Settlement and moving in
- Pay stamp duty and land transfer fees.
- Finalise property settlement.
- Sign full home loan contract with vendor.
- Receive transferred title deeds and documents.
- Get home and contents insurance.
- Switch off or move your energy provider. You can check the best energy provider for you at Victorian Energy Compare.
- Water is always turned on at your property. When the previous occupant moves out of a property the water provider takes a final water meter read and closes their account. This means that when you move in the provider sets up your new account as soon as they are informed by your solicitor or conveyancer. If you want to double check or you did your own conveyancing find out who services your area.
- Switch off or move your home phone and internet if connecting.
- You may want to change the locks to increase security, particularly if the home has been rented out before.
- You may also want to paint or change the carpet before moving your furniture in.
- If you need to hire movers choose someone who’s a member of the Australian Furniture Removers Association. AFRA, the national industry body, provides professional training for members, requires them to carry insurance and to follow a code of conduct
- The payments begin. At a minimum these will include mortgage repayments, council rates and utilities
- You should regularly review your mortgage. You may be able to reduce your mortgage length by making extra repayments or switching banks. You’ll probably also want to buy furniture for your new place so find the right balance for you between enjoying your new home and minimising your debt.
Reviewed 27 February 2019