Five ways to make buying a home easier

Woman sitting in cafe

Buying that first home can be a bit scary, but you can make it easier on yourself by following some simple rules. Here are five things to do upfront:

1.  Get pre-approved

A pre-approval is simply an indication of what you can borrow and gives you a feel for your repayments and any other costs. Make sure you understand the term of your mortgage and any additional costs (especially low equity fees) and whether the bank will require a valuation. (You can get started by doing our online application.)

2. Talk to experts

You might try coercing a real estate agent to act as your buyer’s agent. That can be useful to get a feel for the market and for properties in an area. Squirrel can also help you by providing property intelligence and local sales data to help you better understand the market. We will help you with the whole process and provide useful feedback on the property and negotiating the price. We're in the market every day helping buyers. We know what's hot and what's not, and where to find the best deals. When it comes to your mortgage don't settle for second best. If you can use a top mortgage broker for free, why settle for someone less experienced?

3. Know the neighbourhood

Spend time in an area. Have brunch at a cafe, walk around the shops. Find out about the schools and public transport. Go back at night and different times of the day. I've even gone down the street and talked to neighbours.

4. Be realistic

Look at a lot of property. That way you will get a feel for what's available and it will make those necessary trade-offs seem easier.  All properties have problems and what you need to decide is: Can you live with those problems in the short term until they can be fixed? With older houses the roof will often need maintenance, repair or replacement (in the next five to 10 years.)

5. Put in offers

Bugger perfection - there is not one property out there for you. There are a number of properties out there that would be great at the right price. If you're not totally sold on a particular property, at what price would change your mind? There is no harm in putting in low offers and who knows, it could pay off! If you are doing low offers don't bother putting the offer in writing and putting the agent through the whole process. Just tell them a price you'd be happy to negotiate at - and if it’s ‘No deal’, simply walk away.