Aside from deciding to spend your lives together, buying a home is one of the biggest decisions you and your partner will make. Finding that perfect home can be a lot of work, real couples share how to find a home you’ll both love.
Decide what you want
Sit down and talk about what each of you wants in a home. “We just bought a two-bedroom apartment in Abbotsford in Melbourne,” says Matt from Victoria. “It’s a bit further from the happening spots, but not too far and we were able to get a two-bedroom, rather than one.”
Talk it out and discuss what you’re willing to compromise and what’s not negotiable. Remember to take everything into consideration – your commute to work, schools and the recreational facilities you’d like to have close by.
Discuss your lifestyle
Before you meet with your broker, have a chat with your partner about your lifestyle. Look at everything you spend, add it all up and think about whether you’re willing to forgo any of it for the sake of a mortgage. Some things you may not want to give up (food for instance!), while other things might be worth compromising on so you can buy the home you want.
“We have two kids and a third on the way, so we had to consider the cost of child care when it came to taking out a home loan,” says Chris from Mosman Park, WA. “We opted to buy in the suburb close to our parents so they could help out with the kids, so we could afford to put more money back into our repayments and savings.”
Meet your broker
When you meet your broker, do it together. Show up well prepared with all the paperwork you need. Be open about your finances and the kind of lifestyle you lead. When it comes to how much you’d like to borrow your broker can help you figure out what you can afford. Plus, they’ll take into account all the fees and taxes you need to pay, too, so you’re well prepared financially when the time comes to buy.
“Avoid paying lenders’ mortgage insurance by having a 20 per cent deposit saved,” says Kylie from Hawthorn, Queensland. “We didn’t want to overstretch ourselves, so basing our maximum price range off our deposit amount helped keep us focused and on-budget throughout our search.”
Get to know the area
Once you’ve got an idea for how much you can afford, start looking around the area you’d like to buy in. Check out websites such as domain.com.au or realestate.com.au so you can see what’s available. “Agree on a narrow location area first and become an expert in that area so you know the price and available stock,” says Fergus from Seaforth, NSW. While you’re at it, get a feel for the neighbourhood by refueling at a local café, talking to locals and visiting at different times.
Make a Saturday plan
Looking online is important, but at some point you need to start visiting properties themselves. “If we do too many open homes in the one day or weekend they all blur together so we usually do only two or three at most,” says Emily who’s looking to buy in the Weston Creek/Phillip area of Canberra. “Put together a ‘hit list’ of houses that you’re interested in and proceed from there.” Use Google maps to help you plot the properties and decide the best order to see them in.
Follow up on price
When you visit an open home, the real estate agent will be able to give you a price guide for the property. But be sure to follow up with the agent after the sale date to find out what the property actually went for. Some agents will email out the results, so enquire about any email lists you can subscribe to that reveal the sale prices.
“I found an agent who sent out a weekly email on Saturday afternoon of all the auctions in his area for the day. It’s good to know exactly what they go for,” says Jill from Beecroft, NSW.
Become auction pros
If you’re not familiar with auctions, try visiting a few to see how they go. Talk between the two of you to decide who will be the better bidder and decide on a maximum that you will not go over. “To clinch the deal, set your limit and hire a bidder or get someone who has no emotional attachment to bid on your behalf,” says Nazemin, who bought near Wollongong in NSW. Worse than missing out on a home is buying one you can’t afford, which will create financial strain on your relationship and lifestyle.
Have your contacts ready
As you get closer to being ready to buy – now that you know the neighbourhood and how much you can afford – it’s a good idea to get your ducks in a row! That means getting your loan pre-approved and having a contact ready to go for any last-minute pest and building inspections.
“Always do your numbers,” says Chris from North Manly on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “And get pre-approval on a home loan, if you can.”
What are your tips for house hunting with your partner? Share your experiences in the comments below.