More than two thirds of Aussies aspire to own their dream home. But what do you do if you’re ready to buy and you can’t quite afford the dream?
We show you how a little imagination and a keen eye for potential can help turn your first home (or your next home) into your dream home.
For most first timers, buying a home is a practical decision that usually depends on what you earn, what you spend, and how much deposit you’ve saved up.
Financial details like loan repayments, stamp duty, and insurance dominate the discussion and before long the excitement of buying your first place is replaced by the realisation that what you’d love to buy and what you can actually afford, are two very different things.
But with a little imagination, you can transform your first home into your dream home. All you need is a vision of what that might look like, and a sharp eye for potential.
What’s your dream home? And what does potential look like?
Our home is one of the main ways we express who we are. For many of us, it’s more important than expressing ourselves through our job, our hairstyle, the clothes we wear, or the car we drive.
So when you’re shopping around for a potential dream home, it helps to know what you think yours might look like. Then you need to ask yourself ‘can I really have it all?’ Start by making a list of your ‘must-haves’ as well as the ‘nice to haves’ which are the things that you could compromise. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.
Size and Layout
Do you love a home office or are you happy propping your laptop on a coffee table in the lounge? Maybe you like the privacy of a closed door or you prefer an open plan arrangement. Perhaps you don’t want to spend all weekend cleaning rooms you never use so you want to keep things small. A layout that doesn’t work for you could soon turn your dream home into a living nightmare.
Knocking down internal walls can be a great way of turning small rooms into bigger ones without breaking the bank. Needless to say, it’s essential to check that any wall you plan to knock down isn’t the only thing holding the roof up.
As a rule of thumb, extending up tends to cost more than extending out. If you’re thinking ahead to future renovations, it’s worth considering if the lot size will be big enough to add a ground floor extension when the time comes. If you’ve already compromised on windows then adding an upper storey could be a way to bring more light into your home, but you’ll need the advice of a builder or engineer to know if the house could take the extra weight.
Age and Style
While newer homes are less likely to need work or renovation, keep in mind that the old-style home of your dreams could have more costly problems than you realise. If there are structural issues or it’s going to take a new extension to turn it into the home of your dreams, you need to be prepared for added cost and disruption.
Older homes tend to have bigger backyards than newer constructions which is great if you want the potential of a big stylish entertaining area. But they also have older technology so you could end up having to refurbish the plumbing and electrics before you get a chance to lovingly restore traditional features. If authenticity is your thing, finding the right materials to replace or repair period features can also be challenging and costly.
New fixtures and fittings, wallpaper or a coat of paint can make a big difference without breaking the bank. You could also try mixing new furniture with second hand or pre-loved pieces as small and personal touches can have a big impact.
If you love living within walking distance of your favourite coffee shop or restaurant, you may need to compromise elsewhere to get a foothold in the suburb of your dreams. “The worst house in the best street” might be a real estate agent cliché but it could be a good way to find something with potential in the right location. And perhaps an apartment may provide a more affordable entry point to your preferred location.
While there’s not a lot you can do about location once you’ve signed the contract, if you buy in an up-and-coming area you could still end up in a location you’ll love. Look for public transport expansion plans, retail development plans, coffee shops and restaurants opening their doors and other people in your age group moving in to an area. And don’t count out looking at suburbs adjacent to your favourite locations– there could already be similarities, and possibly more homes with potential.
New floors, lighting, doors and even windows could all help transform your next home into the home of your dreams. Think about the kind of features that will really make you happy in your home.
If you want the place to be flooded with natural light then the size, number and positioning of windows will be an important factor. Replacing old ones is an easier and cheaper renovation than making them bigger or putting in more.
Turning a bare backyard into an ‘entertainer’s delight’ might take a bit of time and money but if the space is there you may be able to do it at a pace you can afford.
Perhaps traditional wood floors are your thing. Check under carpets for original floorboards you might be able to update. If it’s tile floor everywhere it could be a bigger job to lift them and replace with wood.
If a kitchen or bathroom needs a full renovation then make sure the plumbing works with any new layout you might have in mind. You need specialist trades people to move plumbing, which adds cost and might not always be possible in an older home.
While your next home might not be your dream home, look a little deeper and you may find it has the potential to be so. Talk to Aussie today and let one of our brokers help you realise that potential sooner rather than later.