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Six steps to owning your first home

Six steps to owning your first home

Attending open houses, weighing pros and cons, stress-testing your finances… Finding your potential first home can be exciting and daunting at the same time. But even if your journey to home ownership takes a few turns, the main thing is not to go off course.

How can you make sure that a certain property is ‘the one’? And what happens if it is? Here’s a handy checklist to get you started.

How much can you borrow?

This is the first of all mortgage questions, the key to understanding what you can afford to buy. Of course, the answer depends on your personal circumstances, including your income and credit score.

Banks’ online calculators can be a first step, but for a more accurate figure, you may need your mortgage to be pre-approved by one or more lenders – which is something we can help you with.

Ask a mortgage specialist

Before you restrict your choice to what your bank has to offer, consider the peace of mind of having an expert work for you. As mortgage advisers, we can shop around and find the best deals, while also helping you design the right home loan structure and repayment strategy.

Get the pulse of the market

While looking for a house, you may find yourself spending hours on websites like Trade Me – Property Insights and Homes.co.nz. And with good reason: they are the go-to tools for getting basic information on sold prices, rateable valuations and estimated market values.

However, those are just rough estimates. To get the real picture, you might need to put on some comfortable shoes on, because it’s time for field work.

Open homes, open homes, open homes

Finding your potential first home may require legwork and tenacity. The more open homes you visit, the more you’ll be able to piece together a clear idea of your desired property, neighbourhood and features. It’s also a good idea to let two or three real estate agents know what you’re looking for – they may keep you in the loop, and you won’t miss out on a great opportunity.

More than meets the eye?

So you finally found it: your potential first home. But before you let the excitement take over and dive head-first into home ownership, there’s one important question to ask: are there any problems lurking in the shadows?
Sure, real estate agents must tell you about any issues they’re aware of – but what if they don’t know everything?

There are ways to save yourself from making an expensive mistake. A lawyer can identify contractual issues and problematic clauses, while a qualified inspector can check out the property from top to bottom, looking for hidden defects and structural issues. Their reports usually cost around $1,000 and are worth every cent.

Time to make an offer

If you’ve come this far and are confident that this is exactly the property you want, there’s just one final step left – making an offer. Depending on the type of sale, you may have to win a property auction, negotiate the price with the seller, or put down your bid and hope that yours is the highest (tender).

Whatever the case, if possible, try not to overbid. Setting a strict budget may help you keep emotional judgements to a minimum, allowing you to cross the finish line on your terms.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and on request.