Sage advice for those stepping into homeownership By Lucy Rutherford

The journey to owning your first home can seem daunting to prospective buyers, especially with continued strong demand for property across Australia.
Sage advice for those stepping into homeownership    By Lucy Rutherford
However, Stockland WA General Manager and UDIA WA President Col Dutton, whose day-to-day role sees him analysing, forecasting and making key decisions around Perth’s property market, said he had to face similar decisions to today’s prospective buyers when he bought his first home. 

“I was in my mid-20s when I decided it was time to get serious about buying my first home,” he said. 

“It was 1987 and I was working full time and studying part time, so between work and university I was pretty busy. 

“Once I had made the decision, there were a number of steps I took to prepare for the homeownership journey.” 

Mr Dutton said the first, and one of the most important steps, was to tune into real estate news to understand the real estate market. 

“Tuning into the property news will increase your understanding of the current climate, industry terms and trends, and key considerations for your homeownership journey,” he said. 

“This understanding will empower you to make informed decisions and ensure you don’t feel overwhelmed by the homeownership process. 

“Once I decided to become a homeowner, I started paying more attention to the property news and, through this, I was able to increase my awareness and understanding of my options.” 

The second step is to think about the potential of the area you want to buy in. 

“I was renting in a community that I really liked and felt it would be an ideal location for buying my first home,” Mr Dutton said. 

“The area appealed to me as it was familiar and close to my friends, family and workplace, but it also provided access to valuable community infrastructure, including public transport, parks, shops and a school. 

“Buying in a master-planned community with access to high-quality facilities is often a strategic move for first homebuyers, as it provides a convenient lifestyle that makes the community a desirable place to live.” 

Mr Dutton said it was essential to understand your finances by talking to your bank and going through your options. 

“When I was preparing to begin my homeownership journey, one of the first steps I took was to speak to my bank about how much I could afford, how much I was able to borrow and formulating a repayment plan that would take into account impacts of interest rate changes,” he said. 

“Once I had clear parameters around my financial limitations, I was able to realistically assess my options in the suburb where I wanted to live. 

“Having a clear financial plan that outlines what you are able to purchase and how you are going to finance your home is perhaps the most important step in the process.” 

Assessing your lifestyle priorities is a key part of the home-buying process. 

“By determining areas where you are flexible and deciding what your non-negotiables are, you will be able to quickly assess the options that are available within your price range in the suburbs of your choosing,” Mr Dutton said. 

“Whether you prioritise proximity to the beach or green open spaces, access to services and infrastructure, or want to be part of a vibrant, social community, clarifying your priorities will help you set realistic expectations for your first home.” 

Lastly, Mr Dutton suggests building relationships and talking to the experts as one of the best things you can do when considering your first home options. 

“I built relationships with real estate agents in the areas I was considering and had useful conversations with them about the options that were available to me,” he said. 

“I’ve encouraged my kids, who are now looking to enter the property market themselves, to seek advice from a broker. 

“Talking to people in the industry, who you trust, is a great way to gain valuable insights into your options and make informed decisions throughout your homeownership journey.” 

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