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BSB 806 015

First Home Buyer Checklist

We’ve developed a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the key milestones when buying your first home. The guide is broken down into four steps for your convenience, so you can check in regardless of what stage you're at.

1: Getting your finances organised

2: Finding your first home

3: From contracts to settlement

4: It’s time to move in


1: Getting your finances organised

First things first – set up a budget. Get into good spending and savings habits now. This will help you save your deposit faster and help you prepare to meet loan repayments and expenses when you’re a homeowner. You might cut your spending by taking a packed lunch to work a few days a week or skipping the café bought coffee. If you need help creating a budget, you can speak to a one of our team to arrange a savings plan.

Time to get saving. Start by creating a separate account for your home loan deposit savings. Once that's organised, you can set realistic goals of how much you can afford to put in each week, fortnight or month. You’ll want to keep doing what you love most, such as going out for dinner or heading to the gym, so find that happy medium that will help you achieve both. Find out our top five tips to help you save for a house deposit in this article.

Find out how much can you afford to borrow. Make sure this is a commitment you can afford longer term by working through the numbers now. Find out how much you can borrow for your first home with our handy Home Loan Borrowing Power Calculator.

Young woman wearing glasses, a blazer, and hoop earrings, sitting at a table with a laptop in front of her. She's looking at the laptop with a focused, satisfied look on her face.

Work out how much you'll need for a deposit. The bigger your deposit, the better. As a general rule, you’ll need between 5% and 20% of the property purchase price as a deposit to be eligible for a home loan. You'll also need to think about whether you'll need Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI), or if you have parents who can assist as guarantors. Read our article on how much you will need to save for a home loan deposit to find out more.

Look into government grants and guarantees. There are a range of government grants and schemes that are open to eligible first home buyers that can save you thousands. Take the time to find out if you qualify for the WA Government’s first home owner grant or concessional first home owner rate of duty, or the Australian Government’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.

Know the costs involved. There are some costs you’ll need to consider when buying your first home. These can include things such as stamp duty, moving expenses and settlement fees. Make sure you're aware of these so you don’t end up not borrowing enough, or looking at homes outside your budget. We’ve pulled together a comprehensive list of home buying costs to help guide you.

Check out your home loan options. Will you get a fixed rate or variable home loan, or opt for a split rate so you can have the best of both worlds? Weigh up the pros and cons of each loan type, then decide which option suits you the best.

Contact the experts! There are professionals who can help you through every step of the home buying journey, whether that’s a mortgage broker or through a bank. P&N can support you through the lending process, with mobile lenders that can visit you at home, your workplace, or even via video chat, and lending specialists in our branches.

2: Finding your first home (the exciting part)

Do your research. Now that you know how much you can afford, it’s time to do some research on the housing market. Get a better idea of the growth areas, what’s on offer, and how long homes are on the market for before selling. We’ve pulled together some expert advice to help you on your way.

What type of property are you looking for? Do you want to buy new, established, or off the plan? Are you thinking of building or buying something you can renovate? Would you like a house, townhouse, villa, or apartment? This is a great time to chat to family and friends that have purchased property before so you can get advice or guidance on what might suit you best.

Create your suburb wish list. You’ll want to think about the schools in the area, proximity to public transport and shops, as well as general affordability and the safety of the area. You can get a free property profile report for any property in WA from our website, or visit the Domain website for local property insights.

Now for the fun part – home opens! By visiting multiple home opens you can get a good feel for the properties you’re looking at and decide if they meet your needs. There's no better place to imagine how you'll arrange your bedroom or where your plants will go than when you're standing in your potential new home!

Preparation is key. Get a home loan pre-approval so you’re ready to put an offer on the table when you find your perfect home. In fast moving markets, real estate agents may request pre-approval for you to make an offer. The reason for this is that it gives confidence to the seller when they're looking at multiple offers.  Read more on what’s involved in getting a home loan pre-approval.

Heterosexual couple, both brunette, sitting on a couch with a professional blonde woman. The blonde has folders on her lap and appears to be showing the couple some information.

3: From contracts to settlement

It’s time to make an offer. Once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Most properties are sold through an offer and acceptance (O&A) process, where you make a formal offer in writing and the owner/seller can either accept, reject, or make a counteroffer (so be ready to negotiate!). Find out more about the offer & acceptance process.

Sold! Now settlement begins. If the seller choose to accept your offer, you will go through the settlement process. This is the part where the seller passes ownership to the buyer. It’s also when your finance approval will take place and you’ll pay the balance of the sale price. You can either appoint a settlement agent, or the real estate agent can choose one for you. The settlement agent will prepare the legal documents and provide advice for the property transaction. Settlement usually takes between 30 to 90 days and depends on the O&A agreement between the seller and real estate agent.

Remember those costs? As we mentioned earlier, there are a range of costs, such as pro-rata council and water rates, valuations, mortgage registration and Landgate fees that will be included in the settlement and finance process. This is also the time to arrange building and pest inspections and make sure everything is in order before you finalise the sale. Check out our comprehensive list of home buying costs for more information.

Sign your loan contract. Your settlement agent will work with your lender to arrange the final costs involved and your total loan amount. At this stage you’ll need to sign your loan contract.

Protect your biggest asset. You’ll want to make sure you protect your property and things with home and contents insurance. If you’re buying a unit or strata dwelling, the building insurance may be included in your rates. To estimate how much cover you’ll need, use our Home Contents Value Calculator and Building Insurance Value Calculator.

Signed, sealed, and delivered. When you reach final settlement, your mortgage will be held at the bank and lodged with Landgate. This is the last official step in making your dream of being a home owner a reality – congratulations!

Visit the WA Consumer Protection website for a rundown of real estate contracts and what to expect during this phase of the home buying journey.

4: It’s time to move in (the really exciting part!)

Connecting now… Before you move in, contact the relevant providers to connect the utilities you use. This may include water, electricity, gas, a telephone line, and you can't forget about Wi-Fi! It'll feel more at home if everything is in working order when you move in, even if it does mean watching Netflix on your phone on a mattress on the floor!

The fun begins - furnishing your new home. To save on costs, you can look for sales, second-hand pieces or hand-me-downs from family or friends. And remember, you don’t need to rush into buying everything straight away (as tempting as it is). Take the time to settle in and see what works for you and your new home before making any big purchases.

I like to move it, move it. Our big tip? Do as much of the move as you can yourself to save some money. You might be able to get your mates to help you move with the promise of a BBQ at the end of the day! And if that doesn't work, you can look at hiring a moving truck or booking in professional removalists.

Change your address. There’s a bit of paperwork required to change your address. You can redirect your mail through Australia Post, don't forget to update key forms of identity, like Medicare and your driver's licence. You’ll also want to update all your service providers with your new address, such as mobile phone or car and health insurance providers. It wouldn’t hurt to also let your friends and family know you’ve moved house – especially if they’re bringing housewarming gifts!

"Are you free to babysit?" Moving day can be long and tiring, and you want to make sure you have plenty of time to focus on organising your new home! The trick is to find someone who can take care of your kids and/or pets. That way when it's time to unpack, you don't have to worry about about the little ones running around..

Celebrate! After all that, it’s now time to sit back, relax and enjoy your new home with friends and family.

Couple moving into new house

If you’re interested, take some time out to read our article on why the first property you buy is the most important.

Have more questions?

We're here to help! If you’re ready to take the next step towards buying your first home, or for more information, call one of our Home Loan Specialists on 13 25 77, or get in touch with one of our Mobile Home Loan Specialists who can come to you any time.

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