7 Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Purchasing a home is a major milestone, and it can be an exciting but overwhelming experience, especially if you’re a first time homebuyer in Canberra and surrounds.

If you’re considering buying a home, there are many factors to consider and decisions to be made including, but not limited to, saving for a down payment, getting your credit in order, the size of the mortgage and finding the perfect home for your needs and requirements.

In this article, we’ll provide some helpful tips for first-time homebuyers in Canberra (and surrounds) to make the process as smooth and successful as possible. From negotiating the best deal to seeking out assistance programs, we’ve got you covered.


1. Investigate the Costs

When you are preparing to buy a property, it is important to consider all the costs associated with the purchase.

There are several different fees and expenses that you will need to budget for, ranging from the purchase price of the property itself, and the required deposit, and various government charges, legal and conveyancing costs, to moving expenses.

Here are a few examples of what those costs might be:


Purchase Price

This is the price that you agree to pay for the property, inclusive of the 5% or 10% deposit required for the property to exchange.

If you are not paying for the property outright (as a “cash buyer”) you may need to take out a loan. Lenders often require a minimum deposit of 10% to 20% of the purchase price.


Loan Application Fee

This fee is charged by the lender and covers the cost of credit checks, property appraisals, and other administrative tasks related to processing your loan application.


Lender’s Mortgage Insurance (LMI)

If your deposit is less than 20% of the purchase price, you may be required to pay LMI to your lender. This is a one-time fee that covers the lender in the event you are unable to repay your loan. Some lenders may allow you to add the LMI amount to your home loan balance.


Government Charges

These are fees that are levied by the government and may include stamp duty (a tax on property transactions), mortgage registration fees, and transfer fees. These fees can vary depending on the location of the property and your place of residence.


Legal and Conveyancing Costs

These costs cover the services of a real estate conveyancer or solicitor, who will prepare the necessary paperwork and conduct the settlement process (the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer).



It is a good idea to pay for these inspections before you buy a property, as they can alert you to any potential structural concerns or maintenance issues.

A building inspection will assess the condition of the property’s structure, while a pest inspection will identify any infestations.

In some cases the ‘seller’ has already purchased and conducted one of these, but YOU as the buyer will pay for this on settlement.


Moving Expenses

When you buy a new property, you may need to move your belongings from your current residence to your new home or arrange the delivery of receiving new furniture. Moving expenses can include the cost of renting a truck or hiring professional movers to help with the process.


2. Ask Yourself: What Can I Really Afford?

Thinking about taking the next step and buying a house is very exciting! But, before you start looking at properties or ideal neighbourhoods, it’s important to sort your budget.

This means figuring out how much you feel comfortable paying monthly for mortgage and ownership costs, not just the maximum amount a lender is willing to give you.

Keep in mind that these expenses can really add up, and they have a larger impact on your monthly budget when compared to paying rent.

To make sure your mortgage doesn’t become a burden, try planning your budget around your estimated mortgage payments.

Once you have a budget in place, we recommend trialling it for a few months to see how it feels, to ensure you still have enough to get by with daily life. Don’t forget to set aside some money for maintenance and repairs too, that way you ensure not to stretch yourself too thin, so you can still enjoy your life.

When putting together your budget, it’s also important to factor in important upfront costs like stamp duty. When you feel confident about what you can afford, consider requesting pre-approved for a loan.

Having pre-approval will give you more confidence when it comes to searching for a place, help you make a more informed decisions as a first-time homebuyer and will ultimately assist your chances of receiving an accepted offer when you find the perfect home.


3. Do Your Homework

When it comes to buying a property, it’s always a good idea to be as informed as possible. So, take your time and get to know the neighbourhoods that you’re interested in, as well as the type of house you’re after and the costs of similar homes. There are plenty of resource options to assist with this research such as CoreLogic, Realestate.com.au, and Domain.


What are the few things you should consider when looking at different suburbs in Canberra?

  • Property prices and trends in the area
  • Crime rates in the neighbourhood
  • The reputation and availability of local schools and shops
  • Parking options, including availability of off-street parking
  • Transportation options
  • The potential for price growth in the neighbourhood
  • Any proposed developments in the area that could affect the value of the property
  • The local job market and availability
  • How far the neighbourhood is from local shopping centres and schools
  • How far the neighbourhood is from family, friends and work
  • Whether you’ll need to renovate the property (and if you have the extra funds to do so)

It’s also a good idea to talk to your real estate agent and your mortgage broker, to understand what’s happening in the local area, how properties are valued and how that might differ from the listed price.


4. Know the Financial Programs that are Available to You


If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you might be able to get some financial assistance to help you out. Here are a few options that might be worth looking into:


First Home Owner Grant

Some state governments offer a one-time grant to eligible first-time homebuyers. Check with your state revenue office to see if you might be eligible.


Stamp Duty Concessions

Some state and territory governments offer incentives to first-time homebuyers, including stamp duty concessions. Research what’s available in the area you’re buying in.

New Home Guarantee

The Australian government’s New Home Guarantee program can help first-time homebuyers building or purchasing a newly constructed property by replacing the need for Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance. Participating lenders can apply for the guarantee when you make your loan application, but keep in mind that guarantee places are limited.

First Home Super Saver Scheme

Under the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS), eligible first-time homebuyers can withdraw voluntary super contributions (made since July 1, 2017) of up to $50,000 for individuals or $100,000 for couples (plus associated earnings/less tax) to put towards a home deposit. Find out more about whether you might be able to withdraw under the FHSSS.

 There are a number of financial assistance options available to first-time homebuyers in Canberra. It’s worth taking the time to research these options and see if you might be eligible to take advantage of any of them as you start the process of purchasing your first home.


5. Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate!

Whether it’s the purchase price of the home or the terms of your mortgage, don’t be afraid to negotiate. You can often score a better deal by speaking up and advocating for yourself.

As a buyer, it’s important to feel in control during the negotiation process, and not be afraid to advocate for yourself. Every little bit counts, so don’t be shy about negotiating for the best price possible.

Keep in mind that real estate agents, while experts in their field for both sellers and buyers, ultimately work for the seller. They will do their best to assist you with suitable offers, to compete with other prospective buyers, but they may not have the flexibility to be lenient with the time given to decide on an offer price.

It’s perfectly okay to take a moment to consider all of your options before proceeding, even if this means losing out to a competitor, as you will feel more secure in making a well-thought-out decision than one made under pressure.


6. Find the Value in Inspections

When looking at potential homes, it’s best to request a copy of the building report, if applicable, to review before inspecting the home in person.

Arranging an in-person inspection is highly encouraged, not only to judge whether the size of the home is compatible with your needs and requirements (or as a potential investment property), but also to locate any hidden issues like electrical problems or any urgent repairs or unfinished renovations.

You can also consider hiring a professional inspector to check things out, as they’re trained to identify any potential problems that you may miss.


7. Work with a Real Estate Agent

Buying a home is a big deal and can be an emotional rollercoaster, with lots of excitement, stress and fear. It can also be a massive time, money and energy commitment.

To find the right property for YOU, it’s important to know what you need and what you can afford and compare that to what’s on the market when you’re ready to buy.

Working with an experienced agent can make all the difference in this process as an sales agent will know all the ins and outs of what to look for and how to find the perfect fit for you.

Jonny Warren Properties, has been named ACT Property Marketer of the Year in 2018, 2020, and 2022; and it’s not just a shiny award! We believe that every home tells a story and can be the end of one chapter and the start of another.

We understand that buying and selling a home is one of life’s biggest investments and a major life event. We want you to be part of the Jonny Warren family and put your trust in us to not only manage or sell your property, but also to help you find the home of your dreams.