Looking for and buying your first home is an emotional time, with moments of excitement often followed by frustration and disappointment.
So to help you experience more of the good and less of the bad on the way to your own place, we’ve put together these ten house-hunting tips for first home buyers.
1. Get your finances in order first
Before you start looking you'll need to be ready to buy. If, like most first home buyers, you'll be borrowing money to purchase your home, you'll need to have saved for a deposit and received pre-approval from a lender for your loan amount. Then the fun begins - you can start house hunting.
2. Essentials vs nice to haves
What are you looking for and what does your home need to have? Sure a sauna and spa might be great, but are they essentials? Write a list of your must haves - number of bedrooms, bathrooms, proximity to work, shops and schools, car parking, size of the yard, storage and anything else you really need, and ensure you're looking at homes that match these criteria.
3. Jump online
Online resources like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au are great for researching properties from the comfort of your current home. Look in the areas you'd like to live in and see what your money will buy. If you can't afford what you want, you might need to compromise on the location and start looking further afield.
4. Engage an agent
There's no need to do it alone. Once you know where you'd like to live and the sort of home you'd like to live in, a real estate agent can make the dream a reality faster. Choose a real estate agent you trust and who knows the area well as they'll often have property listings of homes you won't find online. And they'll let you know when a property that suits your needs comes onto the market.
5. Make a short list
Make a list of the homes that tick all your boxes and you'd like to inspect. Some may have open times, others may be only be open by appointment. On inspection day, plan your opens in advance so you won't miss the homes that tick the boxes.
6. Be open at opens
At open inspections, don't be afraid to ask the agent questions. As well as giving yourself more information, you'll show the agent that you're interested in the home.
7. Don't get emotional
It's easy to get caught up in the pretty little cottage that's already too small for your needs and requires renovating, so make decisions with your head first, then your heart. A home isn't just a financial investment, it's an investment in your lifestyle and your future. Think about how each home will meet your current needs and your needs down the track.
8. Focus on what can't be changed
Does a home tick all your boxes but have old carpet? Things like carpet and wall colours can be changed, so don't be put off by the things that are cosmetic rather than structural. Focus on the things that can't or are difficult to change, like the location, layout, size of the home and yard, and structural integrity of the home itself. It's far easier to paint an existing bedroom than to build an extra one.
9. Inspect again
After visiting a home, you'll know whether it's a contender or not. You'll want to see it again. The second time you visit you'll be less excited and more thorough. You'll notice things you may have overlooked the first time, like storage, the condition of the heating and cooling, and other details.
10. Home sweet home
Once you have your head and heart set on a home, check what other similar properties in the area have sold for. If you like a home, there's a good chance other first home buyers and even investors will like it too. If it's an auction, it's a good idea to take someone with you who's not as emotionally invested in the home, to act as the voice of reason. If it's a property for sale, make an offer that you feel may be considered; and good luck.