- Step 1: Determine a budget
- Step 2: Compare home loans
- Step 3: Research your house
- Step 4: Make an offer
- Step 5: Finalise settlement
Buying a house is incredibly exciting! But if you’re a first home buyer, it can also be overwhelming and stressful, especially since there are so many things you need to take into consideration—from working out how much you can borrow and finding the best home loan, to making an offer and preparing for property settlement. That’s why we’ve put together this first home buyers guide and checklist to help you navigate the process. Read on to learn how to buy your first house or speak to our conveyancers if you have any questions.
How do I buy my first house in NSW? A first home buyers guide
Step 1: Determine a budget
As a first home buyer, the very first step you need to take is to organise your finances. That’s why we’ve broken down the process in our first home buyers guide to help you.
What can you afford to borrow?
Before you start looking at houses, you need to know how much you can reasonably afford to borrow. This will depend on your income, any debts and how much you have already saved. There are a number of calculators you can use to get an rough number, but it’s always recommended that you speak to a mortgage broker or bank to get an accurate estimate.
When you apply for a home loan, lenders will typically want a deposit of at least 20% of the purchase price. There are situations where you may be able to buy a home with a lower deposit, but you need to be mindful of Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). LMI essentially protects the bank in the case you default on the loan. How it’s calculated depends on the lender, so we recommend speaking to your mortgage broker if you have a deposit less than 20%.
It’s also possible to buy a home without a deposit by having your parents act as a guarantor. This is known as a guarantor loan.
Government schemes & grants
As a first home buyer, you may be eligible for government assistance through a grant or scheme. These include:
- First Home Loan Deposit Scheme
- First Home Buyer Assistance Scheme (FHBAS)
- First Home Owners Grant (FHOG)
- Family Home Guarantee (FHG)
- First Home Super Saver scheme (FHSS)
However it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain eligibility criteria that you must meet when applying for any government scheme or grant. We recommend speaking to your conveyancer or mortgage broker to find a grant that is best suited to your financial situation.
Be aware of extra costs
When you buy a house, there are a number of additional costs that you need to consider, such as:
- Stamp duty
- Council and water rates
- Strata fees (if the property is in a strata group)
- Building and pest inspections
- Moving and connection costs
- Government fees
- Mortgage registration fees
Learn more: costs of buying a house
Step 2: Compare home loans
Now you know how much you can borrow, the next step in our first home buyers guide is to compare home loans. This will involve looking at all the different banks and their current interest rates, which can either be done by yourself or via a mortgage broker. You’ll also need to decide upon a variable or fixed term loan.
Variable rate home loans: this is a home loan with an interest rate that may change over time. You can make extra repayments to pay the loan off faster.
Fixed rate home loans: this is a loan that offers a fixed interest rate for a set period (max 5 years). You might not be able to make additional repayments and there may be an annual fee.
You can combine your variable and fixed rate home loan. So you could opt for a fixed term loan for the first 5 years, and then have a variable rate thereafter.
Step 3: Research your house
The next step is to research your future home. Take the time to look at what you want in a house. Do you need 2 or 3 bedrooms? Do you want a backyard? Would you prefer a house, unit or apartment?
Then you’ll need to research different suburbs. You might want to look at whether the suburb has everything you need (such as schools, parks, child care) or what your commute to work would be like.
Consider how you will buy your home
Another thing to take into consideration is how you plan to buy your home. Will you be buying off the plan or buying privately? Are you comfortable going to an auction? Keep in mind that when you buy a house at auction, there are no cooling off rights and the contract of sale is usually signed then and there.
Learn more: private sale vs auction
Step 4: Make an offer
Once you’ve found your dream home, it’s time to seal the deal. If you’re not buying a house at an auction, you’ll need to make an offer on the home to the sales agent in writing. If the vendor accepts your offer, the sales agent will notify you and draft up the contract of sale. It’s always advised that you have a conveyancer or property lawyer review the contract so they can look at any special conditions of sale.
As soon as you sign the contract, the sales agent will serve you a Form 1. Your cooling off period then starts, and you have 5 business days (in NSW) to organise a building and pest inspection or change your mind if you no longer wish to buy the property. Once the cooling off period is over, you will need to pay a deposit to secure the contract.
Step 5: Finalise settlement
The property settlement process in NSW typically takes 1 to 3 months after the contract of sale has been signed. During this period, all the relevant paperwork is prepared by your conveyancer and finance is approved. Then before you know it, settlement day arrives and you get ownership of your very own home.
Owen Hodge is here to help
We hope this first home buyers guide has provided you with some useful information and guidance! If you have any questions about the process of buying a house, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced conveyancers or property lawyers. Call us on 1800 770 780 to schedule an initial consultation.
First home buyer guide FAQs
Most lenders will require you to have a deposit of 20%. You can get a home loan for a smaller deposit, but you will have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). You also need to ensure you have enough saved to cover the additional costs of buying a house (such as stamp duty, conveyancing fees, mortgage registration fees etc.).
As a first home buyer you don’t pay stamp duty for the property up to $650k due to the First Home Concession Rate. Then you get a discount for properties valued between $650,000 and $800,000. If the property is worth more than that you pay full stamp duty rates.
To be eligible, a first home buyer must:
- be at least 18 years of age, and be an individual, not a company or trust
- be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, or if buying with someone else, then at least one must be so
- be buying or building a home to live in, that is, it cannot be an investment property
- not have previously owned or co-owned a home in Australia
- not have previously received any form of first home owner grant
- move into the property within 12 months and live in it for at least 6 consecutive months.