1. Start looking at properties 3 months before you seriously want to buy
Getting pre-approval is going to answer most of the questions you’ll have when you’re about to buy a place. How much can you afford? What deposit do you need? What will your repayments be if you buy a house for a certain amount? How long does it take to get a loan approved and which lenders are the fastest? These questions (and many more) are all answered within the pre-approval process, and your broker will also walk you through everything else you need to know when it comes to finance for your home.
2. Start looking at properties 3 months before you seriously want to buy
The pressure of time constraints can be immense when you’re buying a home. In QLD, you usually only have 14 days to get your finance approved, and the properties usually settle about 30 days after first signing the contract. One simple way to reduce this pressure is to start looking at homes before you’re seriously considering or ready to buy. The advantage to this is that it allows you to figure out what features you want and don’t want in a house without the clock ticking. If you add a partner into the mix, it can often take several months just for you to agree on elements of the house you’d both like. You might love a bold red-tiled splashback in the kitchen, and your partner might hate it. These small things are best sorted out ahead of when you are wanting to purchase a home.
3. Get a few trusted people around you. Don’t try to take on everyone’s advice.
In real estate, there is an enormous amount of conflicting advice out there, driven in part by sales agents, developers, third party marketing groups, and “success” stories (e.g. “I retired at 25 by buying property”). Family and friends will often chip in with their 2 cents as well, which despite being well-meaning, can make the sheer amount of advice and information overwhelming. Choose a few people close to you that you trust (and don’t have a vested interest in the outcome of your purchase), and try to block out the rest of the noise. Trying to adhere to every single piece of advice you receive will inevitably mean a failure to act due to “paralysis by analysis”.
4. Understand the process ahead of time.
Especially for first home owners, the whole process of buying a house is relatively unknown. Even for experienced investors, they may have only gone through the act of purchasing a home 3 or 4 times before. Understanding exactly what happens prior to signing a contract, as well as the intervening period before settlement is essential to reduce stress. Timeframes and the process differ slightly state by state, but your conveyancer or mortgage broker will be able to run you through roughly what to expect throughout the whole process so that you have advance warning of what to expect.
5. View the entire thing as a learning process.
For many people, they view buying a house as a checklist item on life’s agenda, and as a result, the whole process feels like a chore. Given that we do it so rarely, try to learn as much as you can each time you buy a home. Accept that there will be some things outside your control, and that you can only be prepared to a certain point. Most of life’s major events are celebrated (weddings, birthdays, etc), so why should buying a house be any different? Try to view this as something you’re doing for yourself and to improve your own life, rather than a case of “keeping up with the Jones’”.