Whether you are looking to buy your first home or move up to a better or bigger home, you need a plan to enable you to get into your dream home sooner.
You see… most Australians don’t really have a plan or strategy for buying their home.
They just hope “things” will work out for them
Well sometimes they do work out for them, but often they don’t.
Life gets in the way and more and more Australians couples are having difficulty jumping onto the home ownership bandwagon, especially with rising property prices making it more and more difficult.
So let’s look at 19 ways to increase your chances of getting into your own home sooner….
1. Save, save, save!
The first thing you need to do is get yourself a deposit.
For some this will be simple but for many this is going to be a real challenge.
I’ve read that the average Australian has difficulty saving 3 to 4% of their income. But in reality if you want to save a deposit, a good rule of thumb is that you’ll need to put aside at least 10% of your income.
2. Make yourself attractive to lenders
Before you can buy a home, you have to get your finances in order. Reduce your debts so that it makes it easier for you to qualify for a mortgage.
Generally lenders will be less likely to approve your loan application if all of your debts (including monthly mortgage, credit card and other loan repayments), add up to more than a third of your monthly income.
This means you’re probably going to have to draw up a budget and stick to it.
If you’ve already saved some money for a deposit, maybe you should think about using some of that to clear up your existing debts – pay off your car or credit cards if you have to.
3. Get pre-approval for your loan
Not only will this help you get your mortgage sooner, but it will create good habits that you can carry through into the future.
When you’re ready to go house hunting, see your bank or finance broker and get pre-approved for a home loan.
This has two benefits; firstly you’ll know how much you’ll be able to pay for your house and secondly it gives you strong bargaining power when you start negotiating with real estate agents because you won’t necessarily have to buy ‘subject to finance’.
4. Unlock your equity
If you already own a home or land, calculate how much equity you have – this is the difference between how much your house is worth and your mortgage.
In most cases your home is automatically saving money for you by increasing in value.
Suppose you bought your house 5 years ago for $400,000 with a 10% ($40,000) deposit and today it’s worth $400,000.
Your equity is now more than your $40,000 deposit.
It’s your deposit, plus the $100,000 appreciation, plus whatever you’ve paid towards reducing your mortgage.
Suddenly you could find yourself with substantial funds for a deposit to upgrade into your new home.
5. A Stepping Stone to the future
Most people can’t afford their dream home or anything remotely close to it the first time around.
So think about the house you’re looking at buying today as a step towards a better and bigger house in the future.
The average Australian moves house every seven years or so. Most simply sell their old home, take out their equity (including the profit I just mentioned above) and buy another more expensive home.
Thinking like investor, I would see if you could avoid selling your home. If you have enough equity I suggest just refinancing against this extra equity and not sell your old home – keep it as an investment and let a tenant pay you rent to help pay for its mortgage.
6. Start small
We often look at the large comfortable home we grew up in with our parents and think we’ll never be able to afford a house like that.
Well guess what?
Your parents couldn’t either when they first started out. So I recommend you get into a house you can afford (not the house of your dreams) and start building your equity rather than paying rent to your landlord.
7. Begin with an older house
While you may have your heart set on a new house, maybe you should consider buying an established house.
Sure it may not be be as pretty as you’d hoped, but it is a great way to get into the property market.
Think about it….
At any given time there are 100 times more established homes on the market than there are brand new homes, which gives you lots to choose from in a wide variety of price brackets.
Older homes may be less expensive than a new home because they don’t have a modern kitchen, an ensuite or those extra rooms you might want.
Don’t worry, you can always renovate, extend or trade up as you build up your equity!
8. Buy a renovator’s delight!
I’ve found that sometimes the best bargains are the houses other people run away from.
Just because a house has that “yuck” factor, doesn’t mean it can’t be given a facelift.
Focus on what the house could be, not what it is today.
With some imagination and hard work, you could turn a moldy oldie into a glistening goldmine!
9. Be the lucky last to buy a townhouse or apartment
Often builders have difficulty getting rid of the last townhouse, unit or apartment in a new complex.
After selling off everything else, their marketing budget could be completely blown.
I’ve seen builders discount the last dwelling in a complex by 10 – 15%, just to be able to move on to the next project. This could mean a great bargain for you!
10. Find a home in a suburb that’s getting a ‘facelift’
As an investor I love buying low and taking advantage of the property cycle.
I also like to take advantage of suburb cycles.
Look for a suburb going through transition or ‘gentrification’. These are generally older, well located suburbs where the houses have become a bit tired and run down.
If you look around these neighbourhoods, you’ll notice young people have started to move in and do up older homes or even pull them down to put up new houses or apartments.
If you get in early, the value of your home will be pulled up by these new properties and their higher price tags.
Improving infrastructure, like a new freeway or shopping centre and more businesses moving in can also be a good sign that a suburb is a real up and comer.
11. Get in early with new subdivisions
When developers release new housing estates, they’re often testing the market for pricing. Frequently they want to get a few sales “off the ground” in order to show that buyers find their development desirable.
So get in early.
The new homes and vacant land in the first stages of subdivisions are frequently cheaper than those in subsequent stages.
12. Look further afield
Usually the further out you go from the CBD; the cheaper houses are because the land values are less.
Put the same house ten kilometres closer into town and it could cost you twice as much!
13. Buy during bad times
It may sound crazy, but the best time to buy a house is when property is out of favour. You can judge when this is happening by the negative talk you’ll hear in the media, when interest rates are rising, petrol prices are soaring and because of all this, people are getting a bit scared about buying a home.
If you take a long term view, this might be a good time to buy!
14. Let the weather be your guide!
The property market is strongest in Spring. Birdsong, blooming gardens and sunshine bring out more buyers than sellers and this is when property prices are the highest.
During the more miserable winter months, houses are harder to sell and there are fewer buyers out there.
If you can wait until this slower period, you may get a better deal.
15. Learn how to negotiate
The same goes for holiday times.
The real estate market slows right down around Christmas and the New Year and demand is lower, so you could find sellers more willing to negotiate.
In property everything’s negotiable.
Even though the thought of negotiating might make you a little uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to make a cheeky offer! Agents actually expect you to try talk them down.
16. Consider an apartment, unit or townhouse
One of the cheapest entries into the home buying market is an apartment, unit or small townhouse.
When you’re ready to upgrade, your apartment might be a good investment that will keep appreciating in value and provide you with enough equity for a deposit on a more spacious home.
17. Save a bigger deposit
If you’re worried about meeting your monthly mortgage payments, then you could minimise these by saving the biggest deposit that you can.
Having a bigger deposit will also help you qualify for a bigger loan.
18. Save a smaller deposit
I know this is contrary to what we just said, but the main advantage of a smaller deposit is that you have to come up with less cash to buy your home!
Just be sure that you can afford the heftier mortgage repayments. Many banks will still lend 90% or even a little more of the value of your home.
19. Ask your parents for help
When you’re ready to move out of home or fed up with renting, why not ask your parents if they can help you
If they’re like the average Australian family, they probably have substantial equity in their own home.
See if they’ll give you a helping hand and lend you some of the deposit on your own place.
Or your parents could guarantee your loan for you.