For many Australians, the path to home ownership can feel a bit like a marathon! Even if you might be weeks, months (or maybe even years) away from being ready to own a new property, there are some simple and quick actions you can start today to help you on your path to becoming a homeowner.
And since they’re all free, there’s nothing to stop you from getting started right now!
1. Find the right property agent for you
If you’re ultimately not sure where to start just yet, it’s never too early to plant some seeds in the home buying process – everyone needs to start somewhere! Look for a property agent who is patient, transparent and willing to work with you while you figure out your financial situation.
Once you have a good rapport and working relationship with a real estate agent, you’ll know you can rely on them throughout property searching, home loan application, making offers and closing on a property that fits your wants and needs.
2. Talk to a home loan lender
While you’re getting set up with a property agent who’s comfortable being with you throughout the home buying journey, it’s also good practice to reach out to a mortgage lender for home loan pre-approval. Home loan pre-qualification in an incredibly helpful step for understanding exactly how much you can feasibly afford to borrow, and you’ll be able to manage your expectations on loan amount prior to getting the home buying process started.
Home loan lenders can walk you through the details of your finances, including what you’ll be able to reasonably afford, how much you’ll need to be saving for a down payment, and what you’re looking at when it comes to closing costs. If need be, you can also reach out to a qualified financial advisor or councillor for assistance getting your finances ready for buying a new home.
3. Set your property goals and stick to them
Once you’ve got a solid understanding of what properties you might be able to afford in the future, how much money you need to save, and how much debt you need to pay off, it’s never too early to start “window shopping” with your real estate agent!
Set the neighbourhood criteria, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and of course your budget – to see what type of new home you can ultimately get in your preferred area. It’s also a good idea taking the time to look at nearby facilities, access to public transport, infrastructure, schools, parks, shopping centres and anything else that checks off your wishlist items.
4. Don’t get too attached to the house hunting process
While window shopping can be a great way to set your property goals and get a feel for the neighbourhood, spending every weekend cruising open houses or getting very attached to any one property isn’t always going to help you make the best decision.
Some future buyers may want to attend one or two open houses every so often (to get a feel for the market), but it can be easy to over-extend and see 10 to 20 properties a month – resulting in prospective buyers starting to feel overwhelmed and discouraged by the whole process. The biggest benefit of working with a good real estate agent is that window shopping is a great way to save time, view apartments and homes virtually, and your agent will save you the legwork in finding properties that are the best match to what you’re looking for.
If one house really catches your eye, meets your goals and fits the budget, it doesn’t hurt to view in person to get a better understanding of the market!
5. Ignore the listing prices, and focus on the final sales price
Keeping an eye on any sweeping trends, prices and sentiment in the Aussie housing market is key because some homes (particularly within city metro areas, or suburbs with a history of high property prices) aren’t listed anywhere near what their actual selling price will be, which can give potential buyers the wrong idea about what they can actually get while keeping to their budget.
A reliable real estate agent will help to track closed sales in an area for a prospective buyer, because while list price is one thing, and sold price is often another outcome altogether. Some homes and apartments can be deliberately priced lower to gain traction and ultimately result in a bidding war at the time of auction, so it’s always good practice to know what they can actually be expected to sell for as data points to use for when you’re getting ready to start actively looking and submitting offers.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as legal, financial or investment advice and should not be construed or relied on as such. Before making any commitment of a legal or financial nature you should seek advice from a qualified and registered Australian legal practitioner or financial or investment advisor.