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The first-time buyer’s guide to home shopping

By Andrew Bell

When you are thinking about buying a home for the first time, one of the most notable feelings you are likely to have is one of simply being overwhelmed. There is so much to know about the borrowing and buying processes that you can easily feel like you don't know what you're doing.

However, countless Australians have successfully purchased a home for the first time and found the absolute right property, and you can certainly do the same as long as you know what steps to take. Those should include the following:

Maximise your cash and credit

First and foremost, you need to make sure you're prepared to buy a home in the first place, according to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. That means putting together potentially tens of thousands of dollars in savings for your deposit, and also working to make sure your credit rating is as strong as possible, so that you're more likely to be approved for a home loan. In addition, this kind of work will generally put you in better financial position overall because improving your credit often requires you to pay down credit card debt and other balances.

Shop around – for more than you might think

While you may know all about the work that goes into shopping for that just-right first home for you and your family, there's a lot of other shopping to do, as well. For instance, you will also be wise to apply for financing from a number of different financial institutions so that you can find the best deal possible given your financial situation.

You should also be willing to meet with a number of real estate agents to find one who is going to meet your needs and whose personality is a good match for yours. That way, you'll feel comfortable with the whole process.

Don't fall in love right away

One of the things that many first-time homeowners do is get too attached to the prospect of living in a home before they've signed on the dotted line, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation cautioned. There are many things that can end up derailing the buying process, so it's wise for owners not to set their hearts on having a bid accepted right away or getting through the closing process smoothly.

During the bidding process itself, someone could just come in with a better offer than you (and that's obviously true particularly when you're trying to buy via an auction). There could also be financial or legal complications that prevent you from being able to close the deal even after your bid is accepted. As such, to put it simply, you shouldn't start "moving in" mentally until the ink is dry.

Ask a million questions

Whenever you're going through the homebuying process, there are probably a lot of things you don't fully understand and need clarified. That's what your agent is there for. They should be able to answer whatever questions arise in a timely fashion and ensure you're going to be in a good position, so that you're comfortable with the entire process.

Crunch the numbers for ownership

The cost of buying a home is one thing – the cost of owning it is another, RateCity advised. Between taxes, insurance obligations, higher utility bills and more, you would be wise to ascertain from the current owner how much it costs to live comfortably in the home, and build that into your long-term financial planning.

When you're buying a home for the first time, you need experts on your side. At Ray White Surfers Paradise, we've guided countless buyers through the process for the first time, and would love to do the same for you. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

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