Find out when to stand firm and when to compromise as you hunt for that first home
You’re just starting out on the property ladder so you’re unlikely to be buying a first home that ticks all the boxes on your wish list. So what are the things you shouldn’t compromise on to make sure your first home is good enough?
While you may not have the budget to buy in your ideal suburb, it’s important to find a neighbourhood that delivers enough convenience and lifestyle to make it desirable. A two-hour commute to work is going to take the shine off being a home owner in no time. And if you currently rely on pedal power or public transport to get around, consider the personal and environmental cost if moving to a new location means owning a car. Or if you’re a dedicated walker, investigate your prospective neighbourhood’s walkability score to determine how easy it is to get around without a car.
There’s no harm in buying a renovator’s delight, if it just needs a basic face lift and you’ve got the budget to take care of it. But steer clear of any fixer-uppers needing major electrical, plumbing, structural or roofing work. Take one of these on and you could find yourself struggling to pay rent while you scrape together enough money to make your first home fit to live in.
If you’re buying an apartment, beware of any problems and repairs that are a shared responsibility. If there isn’t enough in the strata maintenance fund to cover the costs, they could affect the value and comfort of your property.
3. Zoning and development
Do your homework and make sure there aren’t any council restrictions or development plans that could impact the local area or your particular building. And these include major infrastructure projects. A new road nearby might make your commute easier, but it will also bring more traffic and noise to the area, which is a problem if you value peace and quiet or have concerns about road safety for your kids.
When you’ve found a property you really want, it can be tempting to stretch your budget to the limit and just sign that contract. But be sure to stop and think about how your lifestyle might change with a big financial commitment to your home loan. You may enjoy life more in the future with a manageable mortgage and enough left over for holidays or going out with friends.
Speaking to an Aussie broker can help you discover what you can afford to borrow and discuss how to balance repayments with your other financial and lifestyle goals.
5. Professional help
When it comes to taking the plunge into property, it just doesn’t make sense to compromise on getting advice. Your mortgage broker, building inspector and conveyancer are there to step you through the process and help you avoid expensive and stressful mistakes. Ask friends and family for referrals and work with a dream team you can trust to act in your best interests.
What are your first property must-haves? Share your thoughts in the comments below.