Buying your first home

How does the settlement process work? It usually takes four to eight weeks from the exchange of contracts for settlement to be completed.
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Buying your first home?

The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions. Click here for full Terms of Use.

I’ve found a house I want to buy. How do I make an offer?

  • Contact the real estate agent and indicate what you are prepared to pay
  • If your offer is accepted, you will normally be required to pay a refundable holding deposit to show good faith
  • This doesn’t mean the seller is obliged to sell to you or has to take the house off the market. It just means that if you do follow through in a timely, business-like fashion, the home will be yours
  • If your offer is too low, the agent will indicate this and guide you towards a more acceptable offer
  • Once your offer has been accepted, your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will receive the ‘Contract of Sale’ from the seller’s legal representative. After checking the contract, your legal representative will ask you to sign it and exchange contracts. On exchange of contracts, you pay the full deposit and the Cooling Off Period starts. This varies from state to state but is usually between 3 to 5 days (no days in WA).
  • To save unnecessary expense, do your building and pest inspections during the Cooling Off Period
  • You can change your mind if you get cold feet or if a building and pest inspection reveals something of concern. Most of your deposit will be refunded (check the contract for details)

Is there an ideal time to make an offer on a property?

The ideal time is the moment you decide that you are interested in it. Whether it is for sale by Auction or For Sale (Private Treaty) the owner is always interested in hearing offers.

How can I get a First Home Buyers grant?

The best place to start is with the Federal Government’s advisory website. It explains the First Home Owners Grant and connects you with any additional grants available from your State Government.
  • The First Home Owners Grant is a national scheme funded by the states and territories and administered under their own legislation
  • A one-off grant of up to $7000 is payable to first home owners that satisfy all the eligibility criteria.
  • Additional State Government grants may be available to assist your first purchase.
Visit www.firsthome.gov.au for more information and links to any grants available in your state.

When should I involve a solicitor or conveyancer in the purchase of my home?

Before a contract is signed is the best time to get legal advice from a qualified lawyer, solicitor or conveyancer. Opportunities to end the contract can be severely limited if legal advice is sought after the contract has been signed.

Can I negotiate the settlement period or deposit?

Yes, both can be negotiated with the seller prior to signing the contract.

What is an Owners Corporation or Body Corporate? How does it work?

A ‘Body Corporate’ is a legal identity that manages the affairs of an apartment building if it is Strata Title or ‘Community Title’. The term ‘Body Corporate’ has been replaced by the more modern term - ‘Owners Corporation’. ‘Company Title’ buildings have a similar legal identity known as a ‘Board of Directors’.
  • The Body Corporate looks after the management and administrative services the property/properties require  
  • A Body Corporate decides what, if any, levies are payable in order to share the costs of maintaining a building

How do I work out which areas will suit my price range?

Visit First National Real Estate’s website, enter your budget, and we’ll let you know where we have properties that are perfect for you.

Should I buy now?

First National Real Estate members are local experts and can give you the tips, trends and predictions for their particular area, especially concerning whether you should buy now. First National Real Estate has over 400 offices around Australia & New Zealand. Click here to find the agent closest to your area of interest.

What do I need to think about when buying a property with a friend?

83.5% of Australians say they wouldn’t even conceive buying a property with one of their friends. However, for many single Australians, buying with a friend solves the challenge of how to get a foot on the first rung of the property ladder.

So, if you’re considering buying real estate with a friend, take our advice and cover these bases:

  • Use a co-ownership property agreement. This sets the ground rules from the outset and outlines what your expectations are and seriousness of the commitment. As a co-ownership agreement is a legal document, there will be clear steps to follow in a disagreement.
  • Determine how property costs will be shared
  • Have an exit strategy. Whatever can go wrong might go wrong so you need to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Things to consider are:
                    o    What happens if one of you dies, becomes seriously ill or disabled?
                    o    Loses their job
                    o    Goes bankrupt
                    o    Develops interpersonal problems with partners, friends or family
                    o    Your property has to be sold at a loss

  • Choose the correct title on the property. A ‘joint tenants’ title means that, following the death of one of the borrowers, the property will automatically transfer to the co-owner and not those specified by the deceased in a will. Tenants-in-common is the other type of title whereby the death of a co-borrower results in the property rights passing onto those nominated in their will. This is the better situation for passing on assets to a spouse, relatives and dependents.
  • Understand how the title you choose affects your borrowing power.
  • Get adequate property insurance cover. You will be bound by a co-borrowing agreement so it is important that you are covered if the conditions are proscriptive during times of financial stress. Consider life insurance options, health cover, income protection and home and contents insurance

Is there an Australian real estate bubble?

Some of the most respected institutions and banks in Australia say no, and not without good reason. Check out First National’s news Blog for more information.
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