Buying a first home is a very personal decision, because everyone’s tastes and needs are different.
Nonetheless, there are a few things you should always consider when looking for a property, particularly after the COVID-19 crisis has made some properties more affordable for first homebuyers.
“First home buyers who still have a steady income will be in a strong position to take advantage of lower house prices,” says James Kirkland, Director of Sales at fixed-fee real estate agency Upside.
Kirkland expects house and apartment prices to fall when some of the assistance measures such as the JobKeeper supplement and the mortgage repayment freezes come to an end and more properties come onto the market. Sydney and Melbourne, the two cities with the largest numbers of COVID-19 cases, are likely to be hardest hit, he says.
And there’s another opportunity for first home buyers. Many of us are likely to keep working from home for at least some of the week even after the COVID-19 crisis has passed. If you’re going to be doing more work from home in future you might be able to move to regional areas or further away from the city centre where you get more for your money.
“For first home buyers that could open up a greater opportunity to perhaps live in a house as opposed to an apartment,” says Kirkland.
Don’t overlook the ugly duckling
Some first homebuyers can be put off by cosmetic features of a house which might make it less attractive but can be fixed relatively cheaply and easily. Those houses that aren’t immediately appealing are often cheaper than those which looked more polished.
“I see first home buyers going in and trying to buy something brand new and maybe overlooking a property that looks a bit ugly but you know for $10,000 or $20,000 and a paint job, it’s pretty amazing what a place could look like,” says Kirkland.
By the same token, don’t be fooled by a nice new paint job that might obscure bigger problems with the property and don’t be taken in by shiny new fittings. It’s always a good idea to have a thorough building inspection done or order a strata report if you are considering an apartment purchase.
Draw up a checklist
It’s a good idea to draw up a checklist of the key features you need in a property to ensure that you don’t let your emotions take over your decision making and end up with a property that doesn’t have some of your “must haves”.
“Then when you have those parameters set, you can let your imagination and your emotions run free within that perimeter and make sure that those things are ticked,” says uno Home Loans mortgage broker Jay Ahluwalia.
Now home or forever home?
When you’re looking for a property, consider if this is a ‘now home’, a property purely to get your foot in the door of the property market, or a ‘forever home’, which you can envisage yourself living in for many years.
It’s an important question. If you are buying a ‘now house’, you want to think a little more like an investor and consider what its resale value or likely weekly rent will be if you plan to hold onto it as an investment property.
“You should consider what your lifestyle will be like in a few years’ time, not just right now,” says Ahluwalia.
For instance, a young couple might be planning to start a family, so you want to get a property with enough room for children and near good kindergartens and/or primary schools. Alternatively, you might have aging parents and might eventually want them to move in so you can care for them, which will require an extra room or a downstairs room like a study that can be converted into a bedroom.
Thinking long term is also important when it comes to your mortgage. Making sure you’re on the great rate makes good financial sense, but many just ‘set and forget’.
At uno, we adopt a more active approach to managing your home loan, always alerting you to when there is a better rate and you could be saving money. We do this through with the help of our loanScore tool. It takes 2 mins to fill out your mortgage info and then we do the rest and send you updates so you can take action as and when you need to – plus it’s FREE.
Click here to check it out our loanScore Tool.
This information in this article is general only and does not take into account your individual circumstances. It should not be relied upon to make any financial decisions. uno can’t make a recommendation until we complete an assessment of your requirements and objectives and your financial position. Interest rates, and other product information included in this article, are subject to change at any time at the complete discretion of each lender.