Career & Money

4 Things To Get Around When You’re About To Adult And Buy Your First Home

By Sophie Hart
26th May 2020

A woman sits on a rooftop couch cuddling a small fluffy dog.

Welcome to our Get Home Loan Comfy content series where we’ll help you win at adulting by showing you how your once-distant dream of owning a home is completely within reach. Thanks to Bankwest, we've teamed up with Property Journalist and Author, Nicole Haddow, to take you through the home buying journey so you feel comfortable and ready to sign that dotted line. And although COVID-19 may have thrown your home loan journey a little off course for now, we're hoping this series can help you jump into the property market when you're ready. 

From researching the property market to making an offer and preparing for settlement, let's dive into what actually goes down when you’re ready to buy a home. 

Get To Know The Property Market And Local Agents

To get a handle on the market and understand what a fair selling price might look like, Haddow recommends going to plenty of auctions and inspections before buying. 

“Once you’ve narrowed down your ideal suburb and dwelling type, you want to know what similar properties have sold for because often it ends up being different to the original listing price,” she explains. For example, the price guide might be $400,000 but the property might sell for $500,000 at auction. “As you get to know what’s happening in your local market, you’ll be better placed to feel confident in the price you offer,” she says.

Get to know your local real estate agents as they might be able to alert you to properties that are coming up for private sale or keep you in mind for suitable new listings.

Do Your Due Diligence And Tick Off Your Checklist 

Before you’re ready to make an offer on a property you’ll need to have a few things in order like the deposit, a solid savings history, plenty of research up your sleeve and you may already be ‘pre-approved’ to purchase up to a certain dollar amount by the bank.

“Pre-approval is when your financial provider gives you an approved amount of money to spend based on your loan application. You might be approved to spend $400,000, for example,” Haddow says. That way, when you go to an auction or want to make an offer on your dream property, you know your limit.

Beyond knowing how much you can spend, Haddow urges that you will need to have done your due diligence and know everything about a property that could affect its value before you buy. That means checking heritage overlays, body corporate figures if you’re buying an apartment, and flood and fire risks. You might also organise a building inspection or contact the council to see if you should be concerned about any future development in your area. Research is key.  

Hunt Down Your Dream Digs And Make An Offer

When it comes to actually making an offer it will depend on whether you are bidding at auction or making an offer through a private sale. If you bid at auction and you’re the highest bidder, that’s effectively your offer. By contrast, if you bid at auction and you have the highest bid, but it doesn’t meet the vendor’s expectations, you have the first opportunity to negotiate. They may or may not accept your offer. 

“In my case, I made an offer in a private sale. I put my nominated price in writing to the agent and she passed that on to the vendor—the property owner. Then we negotiated until we agreed on a figure,” explains Haddow.

Your first offer might be accepted by the vendor right away, but it’s much more common to enter negotiations and even drop a small holding deposit to show them you’re serious. The seller is also free to negotiate with anyone else interested in the property and if there is another serious buyer, they might ask you to increase your offer if the other buyer has made a bid. If the vendor accepts the other buyer’s offer, your holding deposit is fully refundable. 

Get Prepped For Settlement Day

After scouring the market for months and attending inspection after inspection, your offer on a dream property has finally been accepted, and your bank has fully approved your finance. You’ve popped the champagne, snapped a celebratory Instagram post then suddenly settlement day rolls around. But what does that actually mean and how can you prepare for it? 

Settlement is the legal process for the sale and it makes the transfer of ownership from the seller to the purchaser official. The process involves the buyer, vendor, mortgage broker (if there is one), and both parties legal representatives. But Haddow explains settlement isn’t a quick process, “There can be a fair bit of time between pre-approval and settlement which might be anywhere from 30 to 120 days,” she says. The length of your settlement is largely determined by how long it will take your bank to sign off on your pre-approved mortgage. 

On settlement day, documents will be signed and exchanged between parties to ensure all of the financials and titles are correct. There will be a transfer of land and title, the mortgage goes into the buyer’s name, and all relevant documents are registered with the relevant government and council bodies. 

Although you’ve paid your deposit, there will be additional fees to pay at settlement like land title transfer, stamp duty, and lenders mortgage insurance if applicable. Be sure to have that money ready to go at settlement and also set aside extra cash for post-settlement. For Haddow, she didn’t have much leftover. “It really came down to the wire! This caused additional stress when it came time to move because I had to pay removalists, solicitor fees, set up my utilities, and start paying my mortgage. I wish I’d had a buffer to help me in the first few months of homeownership,” she confesses.

The best thing to do when it comes to buying your dream home? Educate yourself and do your due diligence so you feel empowered to enter the property market and buy your first home. And remember, no matter your mortgages goals, Bankwest can help get you there. 

Editor's note: This article is proudly sponsored by Bankwest and endorsed by Urban List. Thank you for supporting the sponsors who make Urban List possible. Click here for more information on our editorial policy.

The information contained in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. To the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accepts no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this publication.

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