Everything you need to know as a first home buyer

There’s a lot that goes into buying a home (not just money wise), and when it’s your first time it can be overwhelming. The best way to minimise the stress involved is to be organised, so we’ve put together this helpful checklist to guide you through the entire journey.


Before you buy

What? Why?
Know what you’re entitled to If the government wants to help you buy a house, let them! There’s many grants and concessions available to first home buyers. Check them out here: https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/first-home-owner
Get pre-approval from your bank Having pre-approval, conditional loan approval or approval-in-principle (three words, one meaning) lets you know what you can afford so you don’t let your house dreams go too wild. It also tells real estate agents and vendors that you are not wasting their time.
Have your deposit ready Technically you can apply for a house with as little as 5% deposit if you have sufficient income to support the loan, but anything less than 20% means you’ll need to pay for lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI). LMI is a non-refundable premium added by banks to your home loan to protect them against any loss they may incur if you cannot repay your loan.
Be prepared for the other costs too! Sometimes we can be so focused on saving for a deposit that we forget the other costs involved in purchasing a home. This may include Land Transfer Duty (also known as Stamp Duty), conveyancing fees ($1200 with Waters Lawyers), building and pest inspections, Mortgage Registration Fee ($119.70), land titles office registration costs, council and utility rates, household bills, and of course, furniture and removalists!

During the purchase

What? Why?
Become best buddies with your conveyancer Your conveyancer is your key to a smooth purchase, and the sooner you get them onboard the better. Having them on your side from the moment you find your perfect home means everything will be done perfectly from the start – no backtracking required! Check out this link to find out more about what a conveyancer does and how they can help you: https://waterslawyers.com.au/everything-you-need-to-know-about-conveyancing
Make an offer Found your dream home? Woohoo – time to try and make it yours! Offers are usually made in writing through the real estate agent managing the property.
Exchange contracts Read all documentation carefully. Then read it again, and then maybe one more time to be safe. Then get your conveyancer (a.k.a. best buddy) to check it all, too. Only when you’re happy with the documentation, arrange the payment of the deposit.
Provide your deposit That money you’ve worked so hard for is about to make your dream a reality! Your real estate agent will let you know how to pay the deposit.
Negotiate a settlement period Settlement signifies the date when the buyer (you!) pays the remaining balance of the purchase. It is typically between 30 and 90 days, and it’s important that this date suits both you and the seller.

Preparing for settlement

What? Why?
Do a final check Especially if the settlement is a longer one, check that all items that come with the property are in good working order as stated on the contract of sale.
Give notice to your current landlord if you are renting Don’t get too caught up in the excitement of buying your first home that you forget you need to stop those rental payments. Check your rental contract for more details about how much notice you need to provide.
Finalise the full home loan contract with the lender Remember this signifies the settlement of the home, so make sure this is ready to go on the day.

Completing settlement

Pay stamp duty and land transfer fees
Finalise property settlement
Finalise the full home loan contract with the vendor
Receive transferred title deeds and documents

Moving in

What? Why?
Arrange electricity and/or gas Electricity can simply be moved from your current home to your new one by going through your energy provider. Not sure if your current provider is the best one for you? Check out your options here: https://compare.energy.vic.gov.au
Arrange water The water will automatically be turned on when you move in with an updated meter reading. Your conveyancer will set this all up for you.
Get the keys (woohoo!) You may also want to change the locks to feel more secure, especially if your new home was previously a rental. This is when you’ll begin making payments as part of your home loan, as well as council rates and utilities.
Make it home You may want to paint or change the carpet before you move in, but otherwise it’s time to bring in the furniture!
Consider income protection insurance and home and contents insurance Sometimes in life the unexpected happens. To protect yourself in the case of illness or job loss, income insurance ensures you can still meet your home loan repayments.
Review your home loan This is something that you should do often. It may help to reduce the length of the loan if you make additional repayments or switch banks.
Relax/celebrate (or both!) You’re a homeowner now – that’s a huge achievement! Time to pop the bubbly…

Have anymore questions? We’re more than happy to help! Contact our reception on (03) 5996 1600 and ask to speak to our conveyancing team.

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