First homebuyer’s secret to buying in Sydney’s booming property market By Sarah Megginson
If buying your first property seems like an impossible dream right now, these tips from Sydney first homebuyer Francesca Guerrera should shoot to the top of your "must read" pile.
For Sydney digital content marketer Francesca Guerrera, the first steps on her journey to home ownership began several years ago, when she moved back home with her parents to get serious about saving a deposit.
"In 2019 I started to get serious about looking, but I was really actively looking from around April 2020. COVID had just hit and there weren't many properties on the market, but the really great, competitive mortgage interest rates started happening," she shares.
"I applied for a loan and got pre-approval and I spent months looking. I actually literally towards the end thought, I'm not finding something I like, I might have to wait until 2021. Finally, I found a hidden gem at the end of 2020. I purchased the property in December 2020 and moved in in February 2021, so it was a long settlement. It was a bit of a roller coaster, but we got there!"
Here Francesca shares her first home buyer tips for wanna-be property owners who are keen to secure their own 4 walls in this crazy, chaotic market:
"I compromised on location – just a little."
"I bought a spacious 1 bedroom apartment with an outdoor balcony/entertaining space in Botany. I was looking in the Eastern suburbs and at first, I really wanted to buy around Maroubra – it's where I grew up and I've rented there previously as well. So I was looking there, or around Randwick and Kingsford.
"But I did compromise and moved over just a little bit, because the properties there were so much better value. I wanted something with a bit more space and an entertainment area, and so I found something within my budget in Botany, which is only about a 10-minute drive from my family in Maroubra. "
"I used a buyer's agent to seal the deal."
"I had a buyer's agent who helped me towards the end of the process. It was a really positive experience – I found one who was affordable, and I gave him a really tight brief of what I was looking for. He went to inspections with me and looked into off market properties, dealing with other real estate agents, and helped me narrow down that search.
"I don't think I would have gotten my property at such a good price [on my own], because my buyer's agent did help me with the negotiation and putting in the offer. He messaged me the other day and said 'you got in at a great time because there are so many more people wanting to buy now, and the prices have gone up'."
"I researched the costs – there are a lot of them."
"There are a lot of fees and costs involved in the process of buying a home that people don't know about, as well as the ongoing fees, like strata and council rates. When you're renting, you're splitting bills, but you've got to pay them on your own now. There's a lot of maintenance costs that you don't realise how expensive they are, and the mortgage repayments too."
"I have a lot of family members who own their home or who have bought investment properties, and I definitely did rely on them giving me the full rundown about what all the things are that I've got to worry about financially."
"I looked at all my home loan options."
"You don't just have your Big Four banks that you go to – there are some great small lenders that can offer really good home loan deals. I got a mortgage broker to help me look at my options and work out: Is this the best, most competitive loan for me at the moment? They confirmed it was, so that was great reassurance. I think sometimes people don't know that there are other options in terms of getting bang for your buck when you're looking for a home loan."
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"I got help, support and advice."
"I was so stressed doing it on my own. I wish I had a bit more patience – when you really want to get a property and the market is moving so fast, I think it would be so easy to make an impulse buy. That's why the buyer's agent really helped me.
"I also kept talking to people who have bought properties. My parents gave me such great advice, and I'd recommend you go to inspections with people who have bought properties – they can give you a really good second opinion. Don't do it alone, get support from your family if you can, consider a buyer's agent as it might help you; I think taking a very collaborative approach really helps."
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