Establish your budget

Before you start searching for your first home, look at your finances and be realistic about what you can afford.

You need to calculate what you can comfortably afford for mortgage payments, insurance, property taxes, maintenance costs, and other associated expenses (eg, décor, furniture, pain etc).
Setting a budget ensures that you stay within your means and avoid financial stress down the line.

By understanding what your maximum affordability level is, you can go out and shop for that first-time home that meets all your needs.
 

Save for a down payment

Saving for a down payment is a step in the process many people overlook. While many financial institutions and banks offer 100 percent home loans for first time home buyers, having a deposit always help reduce costs. Moreover, the larger your down payment, the better your chances of securing a good interest rate and reducing monthly payments.

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Consider buying off-plan

Buying your first home off-plan allows you to save on transfer costs, as these costs are typically nil for buyers that the developer first on-sells to. Do your due diligence: verify that the developer is reputable and has the capabilities to complete the construction on time and to a sound level of quality.

If you do not have a large savings pool heading into the transaction, buying off-plan can definitely present a money-saving opportunity for you to take advantage of, as transfer duties are the biggest component of a property purchase price.
 

Beware those hidden costs

In addition to transfer fees, do your research into the additional costs you will be required to pay towards your property.

These can include anything from conveyancing fees, ongoing levies (including special levies) and municipal services, homeowners associations, and insurance. If you are moving into a communal residence or estate, understand what your levies do and do not cover in terms of maintenance and snags.

It’s also a good idea to keep funds available for any unexpected maintenance requirements that can come with being a homeowner.
 

Find the ideal location

Location is one of the most important considerations when buying a new home, as you want the value of your property to appreciate over time.

When looking at potential capital appreciation of a property, consider key aspects such as access to services like schools, health facilities, retail centres and green spaces.

Keep in mind factors such as security, traffic noise, and the maintenance of local infrastructure play a role in evaluating the desirability and long-term value of a property.
These elements can affect your quality of life and the future resale value of your home.

Pay off your bond as fast as possible

If possible, try to pay more than the minimum on your monthly instalments.

By doing this, you can reduce the overall interest you'll pay on your mortgage, saving a substantial amount in the long term.

Although you may not be thinking this far ahead just yet, there’s also a benefit when it comes to purchasing your next property.

You'll be able to utilise the funds you've saved to make a larger deposit, which can improve your financial position and borrowing terms.

Consider a buy-to-rent

Buying to rent can be a sound investment strategy, as the rent you earn from the property can cover the bond repayments while still exposing you to the longer-term capital appreciation of the property.
If you don’t plan on living in the home but still want to take advantage of property investment, you might also consider investing in listed property shares.

The advantage here is that you can essentially buy into property without the additional costs such as levies and maintenance, as well as the extra time and effort you would need to spend on acquiring and managing tenants.

Always think long-term

When buying your first property, it's important to think beyond the here and now.

It’s important to consider your future plans and anticipate how the property will accommodate potential life changes (eg starting or growing a family) Think about the resale potential of the property and its suitability for your long-term goals.

A carefully chosen home can serve as both a comfortable living space and a valuable lifestyle asset and potential investment in your financial future.
 

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