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OWNING YOUR HOME A First Timer’s Guide

First home buying has evolved over the years. No longer a traditional follow-on from marriage, home buying nowadays is as much about investing as it is about finding a place to live. Buying with your partner is common, but so is buying a house with family, or close friends, or on your own (if you can afford it). Moving into the house, renting it out, taking in boarders –  these are all possibilities.

While home buying might sound like a good idea, the truth is many of us hesitate. Taking that first step can be a tad intimidating. Anything new involves a learning curve, but with house purchasing, if you prep as much as you can, the experience will be less overwhelming. And let’s face it – kind of awesome.

Having an idea of the mortgage you can realistically pay is a good start. In the moment it might seem totally viable to live on baked beans for the first few years, but life can throw a curveball sometimes, so try to give yourself a little financial leeway.

Research assistance, grants or concessions that may be applicable, but be specific; don’t just assume you qualify. Make sure money you’re counting on actually applies to your situation (sometimes what you intend on doing with the house post-purchase impacts eligibility).

And it sounds simple, but what might be obvious to the experienced buyer can throw first timers for a loop. Sales tax, for example; remember to include that in the budget!

Lifestyle considerations are paramount: library, swimming pool, schools, shopping centres, sporting centres, public transport, close to the city, close to the beach… everyone has different preferences. (Sometimes it’s only after you move that you realise there were a few things you may-be should have checked first.)

Then there’s the old house versus new house versus building dilemma. If you build, you’ll need to rent while you’re waiting, but you do get to incorporate the elements you love (a dream for those tired of cooking in a questionable kitchen). Buying a fixer-upper is fun if you have the skills, or have put aside the budget to pay a professional.

The funniest part of shopping for a house is the way blind optimism/property passion takes over; you fall in love with a place and become convinced you’ll somehow work out the whole roofing issue with a few spare weekends and a good home repair YouTube channel.

At this point, the web is your new best friend. There are so many helpful guides and top tips online, not to mention other people’s blogs of their purchasing experiences. You can also find great information about smart home devices that make modern living easier and more convenient. Read up! If your heart is set on a certain suburb, keep in mind local real estate types are always in the know… Say hello to your (other) new bestie.

When you do discover the (potentially) perfect place, check if anyone’s planning to build something nearby that will impact market value. Also look into how the suburb is performing. (And remember, there are some inspections definitely worth paying for.)

Being open to compromise is another key factor; we’ve all seen an episode of Escape To The Country where the TV crew ‘s dragged to numerous locations because the potential buyers are fixated on half a dozen specific elements (Trust me, you’ll survive without wooden beams in the second lounge).

Just be warned an obsession with tile samples is probably in your future, and expect to fill your friend’s Instagram feeds with endless shots of your garden’s first flower. The new place will consume you for a while – enjoy every minute of it!

GILLIAN O’MEAGHER

 

 

 

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