For the better part of a century, the great Australian dream has been attributed to home ownership. In fact, according to a poll by the Australian National University, 74% still believe home ownership plays a pinnacle role in the Australian way of life.

But for first home buyers today, purchasing a house is about more than having a home among the gum trees, a sheep or two and a kangaroo, a clothesline out the back and a veranda out the front. It’s often about affordability, proximity and value for money.

If you’re a home buyer hoping to snap up your first property in 2018, the good news is that if you’re looking in regional Queensland, the market is less competitive to our major city counterparts. Toowoomba has a medium house price of around $350,000, Dalby $254,000, Chinchilla $221,000 and St George $220,000.

The bad news? Lending requirements mean that you will have to dig deeper for the deposit. For example, based on a $300,000 loan you will need a $15,000 deposit and that’s if you’re planning to take out mortgage insurance. Alternatively, you will need $60,000 to avoid it and if you’re after a bigger property, well you might be up for an even bigger deposit. Anything upwards of 100 hectares may require a commercial loan, so check with your lender on the details.

So, when you’re all cashed up and ready to make a purchase, where do you start and what do you need to know? We have put pen to paper to give you a few tips.


1. Assess your needs

Working out where to enter the market can be a tough decision and it helps to map things out from a needs-based perspective first. How many rooms do you need? Will one bathroom suffice or do you need two? What about garages? And of course, what suburbs could be suitable? Working out whether you need to be close to work or schools, public transport or other landmarks will help you to narrow your search. Generally, if location isn’t essential it is often cheaper to look on the outskirts of town rather than in the centre of the hustle and bustle.


2. Do the numbers

So you’ve got your deposit, now how much can you afford to spend? When working out a budget and factoring in home loan repayments, it pays to be conservative. You need to consider what might happen if interest rates rise down the track. Will you still be able to afford it?

You also need to think about other fees you will have to cover. Taxes and government fees, a building and pest inspection, insurance, legal fees and moving costs are just some to consider. It can be worthwhile at this stage to talk to a lender or broker and a financial planner to understand what your budget is likely to stretch to.


3. Check out the market

Did you know that the average person is likely to enjoy around 4,162 Saturday mornings in their lifetime? Now that you’re on the hunt for your first home, a number of these are going to be swallowed up by open house inspections. Don’t be sad, investing time into market research is important and a crucial step in purchasing your first home.

When you hit your local open house inspection list, take the opportunity to chat to the Real Estate Agents. Remember, they are knowledgeable about the local market and might be able to give you some words of advice. You can also ask them to keep in contact about new listings that are relevant to what you are looking for.

If you find a home you are interested in, take a friend or family member with you for a second and impartial opinion. Often, it is easy to become emotionally attached to a property and having a fresh set of eyes helps.

Finally, take advantage of online resources such as for additional property information. Find out the estimated worth, sales history and compare recent, nearby sales.


4. Get purchase-ready

Whether you have found the perfect home or not, it helps to get pre-approval so when you do find what you are looking for, you don’t miss out. When choosing a lender, it pays to look around and compare. Sometimes, mortgage brokers can offer better deals than directly through your bank or lender.

When choosing the right mortgage, make sure you understand what you are signing up for. Is it a variable loan or fixed rate? Are you paying off the interest or are you on interest only for a set time frame? If you have a question, ask it and make sure you read the loan fine print.


5. Stick to your budget

Whether you are buying at auction or through a private treaty, remember what your budget is. Don’t be distracted by bigger or newer features if you can’t afford it. If your budget is $350,000 and you spend $370,000, on a variable rate of 4.17% over 30 years, that’s an extra $100 per month.

If you don’t think you can trust yourself with sticking to a budget then take a support person with you. If it’s an auction, ask them to bid on your behalf and stop should the price exceed your budget.


Do you need help with financing your first home? Our Financial Planning team can help with everything from budgeting to lending. Contact us for your free consultation on (07) 4632 1966.