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Purchasing your first home is a huge milestone and, as it is likely to be the single largest investment you make in your lifetime, it can be a daunting one. On the other hand though, it is undoubtedly an exciting, memorable and life changing experience.

For Perth Wildcats captain and recent first homebuyer, Damian Martin, it was exactly that. As part of our new My First Home series, we caught up with Damian to ask him a few questions and find out more about his experience.

Tell us about buying your first home - when did you make the move?

The one we are in right now actually is our first home – we moved in last September (2018).

After 12 years of renting, having our second baby on the way was the incentive we needed to look seriously at buying a home.

How did you find ‘the one’?

We had rented around Hillarys and that area for some time but we ended up widening our search to other suburbs. It can be impossible to find the right house if you are only sticking to one or two suburbs. After about four weeks of searching, we ended up buying our house in Edgewater.

We had put an offer on another property, they’d come back with a counter offer and we realised we weren’t going to get it. While we were disappointed at the time, it turned out to be the best thing that happened to us. Shortly after, we found another one, put an offer on and this time it really was the right one.

What did it feel like to move into your first home?

It was brilliant. Before we moved in, we drove past a number of times daydreaming about what it would be like. Now we are in, it is all the little things we really appreciate… like being able to hang a painting without asking permission.

What do you love the most about it?

The best part is the pride of owning your own home, I love the feeling of driving home every day to something that is ours. I only wish we had done it sooner.

Renting when you have kids can be hard, managing all the inspections (which can feel a lot more often than quarterly!) and having someone come through the house – it’s challenging when you have a pregnant wife and a little one at home as well.

Even though I really don’t have a green thumb, now that I’ve bought a home and take pride in its appearance I don’t mind doing the gardening here and working on our own place.

How did you find the home buying process?

We enjoyed the whole process, even though it was stressful at times.

I see the other side of it now as well, when I am selling houses as a real estate agent. It’s a great feeling sitting with sellers as they’re signing off on an offer and seeing how happy it makes them, then calling the buyer. I can hear the smiles on the other end of the phone when I am telling someone that their offer has been being accepted. I was really looking forward to being on the other end of that.

For first homebuyers too, it is not just the excitement of purchasing a house, it is also about moving onto the next step in your life.

Going through it myself, even with real estate experience, I was surprised by what seemed to be long timeframes. It can be stressful when you are waiting for that final tick of approval. I was calling daily for updates on the process – and for us it actually happened relatively quickly!

Then after that waiting there was the sheer relief once the process was finished.

What would you say to someone thinking of buying their first home right now?

I wish we had done it sooner, so if you are able to do it, go for it. It is well worth it.

Of course, first thing's first... get your finances in order. You don’t want to put yourself in a stressful position where you are living just to work.

We were pretty fortunate it was a pretty smooth experience going through P&N to get our loan. In saying that, that weight of getting pre-approval, approval, final approval and settlement and it can be a stressful time of your life, but also a very exciting one. We were lucky it was as smooth as it could be thanks to a great mortgage broker.

So for others, it might also pay to consider a broker and think beyond the big banks or the bank you might have been with your whole life. Reach out, be open and honest about your finances and go with someone who you are confident will do what’s best for you and your family. For us that was P&N Bank.

Overall though, enjoy the buying experience - it is the greatest asset you will ever buy.

What were the must have features when you were looking for your new home?

My wife was pregnant with our second baby, so we wanted to make sure there would be room for us all and possibly even more kids down the track. Obviously the right number of bedrooms and bathrooms is important, but also the schools in the area. My wife in particular loves the idea of getting up and going for a walk around a park or along the ocean. It has worked out well ending up in Edgewater, with Lake Edgewater down the road. So the suburb ticked all the boxes and worked out really well.

And you have recently done some renovations to your new home?

It’s been really fun. We had no idea what we are doing but are really happy with the end result. We did what we were capable of and then had someone come into fix it up and got the professionals in for the plastering and the floor boards and we are really happy with how it scrubbed up.

Perth Wildcats teammates Jesse Wagstaff and Greg Hire live very close by, did being near them and their families have any impact on your decision as to where to buy?

It certainly made it easier and it was really the icing on the cake. Greg and Jesse both have two children similar ages to our daughters, so that idea of all six of them growing up, being friends, going to the same school and being within walking distance is a nice dream to have. Hopefully it comes to fruition, I love the idea of them all growing up being best friends. It is really nice knowing our wives, while we are away in particular, have that extra company only a short stroll away. It goes a long way to us feeling better when we are on the road.

Do you have a man cave in your new house to display your Championship rings and memorabilia?

I actually don’t. My wife brought out something from the Olympic Games and hung it up, but I took it down straight away. When I was renting I used to think I couldn’t wait to have a pool room and get out all these bits of memorabilia, most of it wasn’t my own, but just things I have accrued over time from different people I have admired. But now I own a home and I don’t even see it, it is tucked away in a cupboard. It is funny that you buy your own home and put your own touches on it, but I realised those things weren’t of importance for me.

Instead of a man cave and memorabilia, kids toys probably take up a bit of room?

There is more pink in the house than I ever would have wanted. The girls love it and keep playing with it. The grandparents keep buying things for them. There is only so much you can throw out before a new shipment of toys gets brought in. Everywhere you walk there are Barbies, teddies and dresses. It is funny how things change over the course of a few years.

You are originally from New South Wales, do you see your family settling in WA after you retire from basketball?

Perth is home now and that was why we invested in property. Edgewater is hopefully a growing community, it has got a lot of things going for it with the university, the parklands and Joondalup City has got everything you need. It is home for life after basketball and whatever it may entail – whether that is two or three children, them getting ready for school and me going into real estate outside of basketball.

What inspires you and keeps you motivated in your basketball career?

Stealing a quote from one of our assistant coaches – you should play basketball for rings and relationships (NBL grand final winners receive a ‘championship ring’). I am as determined as ever to win as many championships as possible in however many seasons I have left. The mateships you develop through team sport are incredible – it doesn’t matter if you are playing under eights at the local gym or playing professionally for the Perth Wildcats. Getting up and going to training, seeing some of your best mates each day, it is a great job, the best job in the world and I have thoroughly enjoyed it over the past ten years and hopefully there are a few more to go.

Who is the most inspiring person in your life away from basketball and sport?

I’ve got to say my wife. I might go from basketball in the morning to real estate in the afternoon, but that compares to nothing of what she goes through on a daily basis. Whether it is the sleep deprivation, the dirty nappies, whatever it may be, the amount of love and affection she gives the kids regardless of what has just happened a moment before. They may have been drawing on walls or being naughty. A parent’s job is the toughest in the world, especially when I am away. My wife is definitely the most inspirational person and also my parents are two people I admire as well.

Are you thinking about getting into your first home but aren’t sure where to start? Find out how to get your first home loan.