5 Things To Do Now to Prepare You To Buy Your First Home In The Future
Buying a home is a big decision, especially if you’re applying for a home loan first-time buyer. There are a lot of things to consider, from your budget to your location to the type of loan you’ll need. But if you start planning early, you can make the process a lot easier.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 things you can do now to prepare you to buy your first home in the future. Whether you’re an Australian expatriate living overseas or a foreign buyer, these tips will help you get started.
1. Get Your Finances In Order
To get your finances in order as an Australian expatriate living overseas and prepare for buying a home, here are some steps you can take:
- Assess and improve your financial standing: Evaluate your income, expenses, and credit score in both Australia and your home country. Understand your financial situation, pay off debts if possible, and work on improving your creditworthiness. This will enhance your eligibility for a mortgage and potentially secure better interest rates.
- Save for a down payment: Begin saving for a down payment on your future home. Determine a realistic amount to set aside each month and explore strategies to maximise your savings. Opening an Australian bank account can simplify financial transactions related to your home purchase.
- Seek professional guidance: Given the complexities involved in buying a home as an expatriate, it’s crucial to consult with financial advisors or mortgage brokers experienced in assisting expatriates. They can offer tailored advice, guide you through the process, and ensure you make informed decisions.
Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.
How Long Does It Take To Buy A Home?
The time it takes to buy a home can vary depending on a number of factors, including the availability of homes in your price range and the complexity of your financial situation. However, in general, the process can take anywhere from a few months to a year.
Here are some key considerations that can affect the timeline:
- Financial preparation and mortgage approval: This stage involves assessing your finances, improving your credit score, saving for a down payment, and getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Depending on your circumstances, this process can take a few weeks to several months.
- Home search and offer negotiation: Finding the right home can take time. You’ll need to conduct thorough research, visit properties, and make offers. The duration can vary based on the housing market, availability of homes, and your specific requirements. This phase can range from a few weeks to several months.
- Mortgage processing and closing: After your offer is accepted, the mortgage process begins. This includes providing documentation, obtaining an appraisal, and going through underwriting. On average, this step takes around 30-45 days, but it can vary depending on the lender and complexity of your financial situation. Closing the deal usually takes an additional 30-60 days.
- Home inspections and contingencies: Conducting home inspections and addressing any contingencies outlined in the purchase agreement can add time to the process. This involves hiring professionals for inspections, negotiating repairs, and ensuring the property meets your expectations. The duration depends on scheduling availability and the extent of any required repairs.
2. Research the Australian Property Market
When researching the Australian property market as a prospective buyer, including foreign buyers, here are four key points to consider:
Property Types and Market Trends
Familiarise yourself with the different types of properties available in Australia, such as detached houses, apartments, townhouses, or rural properties. Research market trends, including price fluctuations, supply and demand dynamics, and popular property features. Stay informed about the overall state of the market and specific trends in the areas you’re interested in.
Neighbourhoods and Suburbs
Explore and assess different neighbourhoods and suburbs that align with your preferences and lifestyle. Consider factors such as proximity to amenities, schools, transportation, safety, and community atmosphere. Research property prices and growth potential in these areas, as they can vary significantly.
Laws and Regulations for Foreign Buyers
Understand the laws and regulations that apply to foreign buyers in Australia. The Australian government has specific rules and restrictions in place for non-residents purchasing residential properties.
Familiarise yourself with eligibility criteria, such as whether you need to seek approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), any limitations on property types, and potential tax implications.
Engage Professional Assistance
Seek guidance from professionals who specialise in the Australian property market. Engage the services of a real estate agent, preferably one experienced in working with international buyers, who can provide insights, local knowledge, and assist with the buying process.
What are the Different Types of Loans that are Available to First-Time Home Buyers?
There are a number of different types of loans that are available to first-time home buyers, including conventional loans, FHA loans, and VA loans.
Conventional loans are mortgage loans that are not guaranteed or insured by the government. These loans typically have stricter eligibility requirements in terms of credit score, income, and down payment. Generally, a down payment of at least 3% to 20% of the home’s purchase price is required.
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) may be necessary if the down payment is less than 20%. Conventional loans offer flexibility in terms of loan term options (e.g., 15 or 30 years) and may have more competitive interest rates if you have a strong credit history.
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) provides loans specifically designed for first-time home buyers, offering more accessible eligibility criteria. FHA loans require a minimum down payment of 3.5% of the home’s purchase price, making them an attractive option for buyers with limited funds for a down payment.
However, FHA loans require mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) for the duration of the loan. FHA loans are often popular among first-time buyers who may have lower credit scores or a smaller down payment.
VA loans are available exclusively to eligible active-duty service members, veterans, and their spouses. These loans are guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and offer benefits such as no down payment requirement and no private mortgage insurance.
VA loans often have competitive interest rates and flexible credit requirements. However, eligibility is limited to those who meet specific military service criteria.
What are the Different Types of Government Programs that are Available to First-Time Home Buyers?
There are a number of government programs that are available to first-time home buyers, including the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, the First Home Buyers Grant, and the HomeBuilder scheme. These programs can help you save money on your down payment or your mortgage payments.
First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS)
The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme is an Australian government initiative that assists eligible first-time home buyers in purchasing a home with a smaller deposit.
Under this scheme, the government guarantees a portion of the home loan, allowing borrowers to secure a loan with a deposit as low as 5% without needing to pay for Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI). The FHLDS has specific eligibility criteria, including income thresholds and property price caps.
First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)
The First Home Owner Grant is a government grant available to eligible first-time home buyers to help them purchase or build a new residential property. The grant amount and eligibility criteria may vary between states and territories in Australia. The FHOG typically provides a one-time lump sum payment that can be put towards the purchase or construction costs of the property.
The HomeBuilder scheme is a temporary government initiative aimed at stimulating the residential construction sector. This program provides eligible owner-occupiers, including first-time home buyers, with a grant to assist with the construction, renovation, or purchase of a new home.
The grant amount and eligibility criteria are subject to specific conditions, including income caps, property price limits, and construction commencement deadlines.
3. Talk to a Mortgage Broker
Engaging the services of a mortgage broker can indeed be beneficial when buying a home as a first-time buyer. Here are three key reasons to consider talking to a mortgage broker:
Loan Comparison and Access to Options
A mortgage broker has access to a wide range of loan products from various lenders. They can help you compare different loan options, including conventional loans, FHA loans, VA loans, and other specialised programs available to first-time home buyers.
By assessing your financial situation and preferences, a mortgage broker can recommend loan options that align with your needs and help you understand the terms, interest rates, fees, and repayment options associated with each loan.
Expert Advice and Guidance
Mortgage brokers are experienced professionals who understand the intricacies of the lending industry. They can provide expert advice on loan eligibility criteria, documentation requirements, and the application process. They can also guide you through the complexities of government programs and grants available to first-time home buyers.
A mortgage broker can assess your financial situation, answer your questions, and help you make informed decisions that align with your goals and circumstances.
Saving Time and Simplifying the Process
Searching for loans and dealing with multiple lenders can be time-consuming and overwhelming. A mortgage broker acts as an intermediary between you and the lenders, saving you time and effort. They handle the paperwork, submit applications on your behalf, and negotiate with lenders to secure competitive rates and favourable terms.
By streamlining the loan application process, a mortgage broker can help simplify the home buying journey, allowing you to focus on finding your dream home.
Choosing the Right Mortgage Broker
When choosing a mortgage broker, consider their experience, reputation, and the range of lenders and loan products they have access to. It’s also important to discuss their fee structure upfront to understand how they are compensated for their services.
Understanding Your Budget
Getting pre-approved for a loan allows you to determine your budget and know exactly how much you can borrow from a lender. This pre-approval process involves providing your financial information to the lender, who will evaluate your income, credit history, and other factors to determine the loan amount you qualify for.
With a pre-approval, you’ll have a clear understanding of your purchasing power and can focus your search on homes within your budget.
Strengthening Your Offer
When you find a home you want to make an offer on, having a pre-approval letter from a lender demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious and qualified buyer. It can give you a competitive advantage over other buyers who haven’t yet obtained pre-approval.
Sellers may be more inclined to accept an offer from a pre-approved buyer because they have confidence that financing will likely be secured.
Streamlining the Closing Process
Being pre-approved for a loan can expedite the closing process once your offer is accepted. Since you’ve already provided the necessary financial information and undergone the initial evaluation, the formal loan application and underwriting process may be smoother and faster.
This can help you move forward with the purchase more efficiently and potentially close the transaction sooner.
How Can I Get a Pre-approval?
To get pre-approved for a loan, you’ll need to gather relevant financial documents, such as proof of income, employment history, tax returns, bank statements, and credit information. You can approach multiple lenders to compare their offers and interest rates.
It’s important to note that pre-approval is not a guarantee of final loan approval, as the lender will still need to verify the property’s value and conduct a more detailed evaluation.
By obtaining pre-approval, you’ll have a better understanding of your budget, enhance your negotiating power, and streamline the home-buying process. It’s a valuable step that can provide confidence and peace of mind as you search for your new home.
5. Start Looking at Homes
After getting pre-approved for a loan, you can proceed to the exciting phase of searching for your dream home. Here are three key considerations when looking at homes:
Stay Within Your Budget
While being pre-approved for a loan gives you an idea of how much you can borrow, it’s important to be realistic about your budget and stick to it. Consider not only the purchase price of the home but also the associated costs, such as property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and potential renovations.
By staying within your budget, you can ensure long-term financial stability and avoid overextending yourself.
Assess Your Needs
Take stock of your needs and preferences for your future home. Consider factors such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, desired square footage, layout, and any specific features or amenities that are important to you. Make a list of your “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” to guide your search and prioritise your preferences.
Location and Neighbourhood
The location of your home is a crucial factor that can impact your lifestyle and long-term satisfaction. Research and explore different neighbourhoods, considering factors such as proximity to work, schools, transportation, amenities, safety, and community atmosphere.
Visit neighbourhoods and attend open houses to get a feel for the area and determine if it aligns with your preferences.
Ready to Buy Your First Home?
Buying a home is a big decision, but it can also be an incredibly rewarding one. If you’re ready to take the next steps in buying a home, it’s highly recommended to speak with our expert mortgage broker. They can provide personalised guidance, help you navigate the loan options, and assist you in finding the best financing solution for your needs.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to our expat mortgage brokers today to get started on your journey towards homeownership.
Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.
Frequently asked questions
To save for a down payment, create a budget, reduce unnecessary expenses, and set aside a portion of your income each month. Consider opening a dedicated savings account and explore strategies like automating deposits and maximising your savings through high-interest accounts or investments.
Improving your credit score involves paying bills on time, reducing debt, keeping credit card balances low, and avoiding new credit applications. Regularly review your credit report for errors and work on resolving any outstanding issues.
Building a solid credit history takes time, so starting early can benefit you in the long run.
Closing costs typically range from 2% to 5% of the home’s purchase price. It’s advisable to save around 3% to 5% of the estimated home value to cover these costs, which include fees for loan origination, appraisal, title search, insurance, and more.
Additionally, allocate funds for moving expenses, potential renovations, and emergency reserves.
Paying off existing debt can strengthen your financial profile and improve your borrowing capacity. Evaluate your debt-to-income ratio and focus on reducing high-interest debts like credit cards or personal loans.
However, consider the overall impact on your savings and liquidity, as it’s important to maintain a financial cushion for unexpected expenses.
Educating yourself about the home-buying process is crucial. Start by researching online resources, attending first-time homebuyer seminars, and reading books or articles related to home buying.
It’s also beneficial to seek guidance from professionals such as real estate agents, mortgage brokers, or financial advisors who can provide personalised advice and answer your specific questions.