3 things I learnt whilst buying my first home - Blog - BetterSaver
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3 things I learnt whilst buying my first home

June 13, 2021

The first home buyer’s search can be daunting. A recent headline quotes one Auckland house hunter as describing the process as “too hideous.” Going from open home to open home, the pressure to put in an offer before someone else, the stress of deciding if the house is something you should purchase or not - these can make the experience grueling.

One of our BetterSaver team members recently went through the experience firsthand. Zac, from our Product & Marketing team, and his partner Jessie recently purchased their first home. We asked Zac to share his top tips for first home buyers so we can all learn from his experience.

Here’s what he had to say.

Zac’s Top 3 Tips for First Home Buyers

  1. Get expert advice as early as possible
  2. Do your research and understand the market
  3. Ask a lot of questions to get insights from agents and owners

Wise advice from a seasoned first home buyer. Let’s dig a little deeper into what it all means.

1. Get advice

One of the first things you should do when you’re thinking about buying a home is get a mortgage broker. Brokers can shop around for the best interest rate for you, relieving a lot of stress from negotiating with different banks. They can look at your financial situation and help you structure a loan that works specifically for you. Brokers are experts in buying or building a home, and finding the right one can provide you with a lot of support throughout the process.

It’s also helpful to talk with a financial advisor to find out what you can realistically afford. A financial advisor will take an objective and unemotional look at your finances to give you a clear picture of where you’re at money-wise and how things will look once you take on a mortgage. Your bank will tell you what they think you can afford, but it’s up to you to make sure it’s practical. All mortgage brokers are now required to be Registered Financial Advisors, so you could get all of your financial advice sorted at once.

Find out if you’re eligible for a first home grant and/or a first home loan. These can significantly shrink the amount you need to save up for a deposit. You can use your KiwiSaver fund towards a deposit but the paperwork takes time so don’t leave it til the last minute. BetterSaver’s advisers are here to help!

Taking these few steps to get good advice sets you up for a realistic house hunt.

2. Understand the market

Here’s where you have to do a little research. In the current situation where houses are going fast, it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge so you don’t let desperation push you into making a big mistake.

Reviewing recent sales data will give you an idea of what to expect to pay for a house in a given area. Using a few different tools can help you get an accurate picture of the home and area. There are many tools out there, but here’s a few that Zac used as examples of what you can find out.

  • TradeMe: You can search by address, suburb or city to get estimated house values, recent sales history and sign up to get updates for a property. Details registered with the council like when the house was built, the materials used, floor and land area are all included.
  • Homes.co.nz: You’ll get the same information here, plus they have an app for your phone that lets you view property estimates as you move down a street.
  • OneRoof: They give you all the property info plus some extra tools like crime stats, commute times, schools in the area and trends in the market.

The more you know, the better you will be situated to buy a home you love at a fair price. You need every advantage you can get.

3. Ask lots of questions

There is a lot to cover here. Watch this space for an upcoming list of Zac’s recommended questions for first home buyers!

Buying a home is an emotional experience. You’re choosing the place to set down your roots, have a sense of security and maybe watch your family grow. Having said that, it is super important not to let your emotions rule your decisions. Don’t make a rash decision because you fell in love with a home without doing your research. Use these tips to keep a level head and find your first home without letting emotion cloud your judgment.

The #1 thing everyone should do

Even if buying a home is a vision far in your future, making sure your KiwiSaver is well sorted as soon as possible can make a huge difference when you’re ready to get started with the house hunt. You can withdraw money from your KiwiSaver account to go towards your deposit for your first home if you meet eligibility requirements. So contributing to your KiwiSaver fund, making sure you’re in the right fund for you and optimising your contribution rate are all things anyone can do now to start building a nest egg.

BetterSaver is here to make it easy. Simply take our fund finder quiz and in about five minutes you can sort your KiwiSaver fund. Step one, done! And if you do it by July 4, you’ll go in the draw to get $10,000 put in your KiwiSaver account. It’s as easy as that.