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Buying a new home? Top tips for first-timers


Buying your first home is exciting – but it’s also daunting – there are many pitfalls for the unwary, and many longer-term considerations that you need to take into account. Of all the purchases you’re likely to make in your lifetime, this one takes the most careful thought and planning.

Before you buy

1. Think about your needs for now and the long term.

How long do you plan to live here? Will you be adding to your family? How far away from schools and shops will you be? How will you commute to work? What type of neighbourhood would you like to live in? Do you mind if the house needs renovation? If it does need renovation, what will you have to do to make the house liveable for you, and what will it cost? Too many people plunge into a house purchase only to discover that they’ve made an impractical choice.

2. Are there any specific features you’d like?

List all the things you’d like to see in your ideal home. You may have to compromise, but make sure that you don’t compromise on too many points. You may be disappointed with your purchase later on. If you’d like to keep pets, you need to have a fenced yard. If the climate’s hot, a swimming pool may be an important addition for you. As for the kitchen, you’ll be spending a lot of time there. Do you want an open-plan or separate kitchen? What constitutes a convenient layout for you?

3. What size mortgage can you get, and can you manage the repayments?

Before you even start house-hunting, ask your bank what financing you could get and what the repayments would be. There’s no point in choosing a home that you can’t afford. Even if you can get the home, a punishing mortgage repayment could add to your stress and spoil your quality of life.

4. Beware the private purchase

A lot of first-time home buyers think that they’ll save on a private sale. But if you do that, you will not have any guidance through the legal maze that surrounds a house purchase – and you could even get ripped off. Agents will be able to show you homes that suit your specifications and price range, and they’ll ensure that there’s no ‘funny business’ from the seller’s side.

When you buy

1. Make your offers and consider counter-offers

The first step once you’ve found a home that you can afford and that suits your needs is to make a purchase offer. Although the home owner will have named their price, they may be pushing the envelope to see if they can get more than they really expect. Start by making an offer, and don’t be afraid to offer less than the advertised purchase price. If it’s too low for the home-owner, they may still revise their pricing and let the house go for a little less.

2. Get a building inspection

Your agent will be able to help you to get a building inspection. During this inspection issues such as electrical safety compliance, structural integrity and so on will be assessed. Do this before you agree to buy the home. It would be terrible if you discovered that there were serious structural issues after you’ve closed the deal!

3. Make the deal or walk away!

If you’re happy with the home, its condition and its price, the time has come to close the deal. Work through a reliable notary who will look after your interests. Congratulations! You just bought your first home!

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