realADVICE: Take the long view

PUBLISHED 8 NOV 2018   

First-time buyers can save themselves a lot of money – as well as the hassle and stress of moving – if they look out for homes that will serve their needs for the next seven to 10 years, rather than planning to upgrade within three to five years.

For one thing, they will avoid the costs of selling one home and buying another, including transfer, legal and bond registration fees as well as an estate agent’s commission. If you sell too soon after buying, there is not much time for the property to grow in value and these relocation costs will probably absorb any equity you may have built up by paying off your bond.

Secondly, staying put means you won’t have to get a new and possibly much bigger loan – and start paying it off again from scratch. Instead, you will just continue to build up equity in your home that you will be able to use as a significant deposit if and when you do decide to move again.

This will reduce the size of home loan you need, keep your monthly repayments affordable, and could enable you to negotiate a lower interest rate that will save you even more in the long run.

Consequently, you need to have a good idea of how your family size might change over the next 10 years. For example, if you are just getting married, do you plan to have children? If so, a couple of extra bedrooms and another bathroom may be more important features to look for than luxury finishes.

Meanwhile, other vital factors for first-time buyers to consider include:

  • Location. Your best choice is a well-established area that is close to work and offers good schools as well as convenient shops, medical facilities and sports venues. Try to look for one that is secure and stable and does not have a high turnover of residents or tenants. 
  • Affordability. First-time buyers don’t have equity that they can roll into their home purchase and most don’t have a lot of cash for a deposit, so it’s important to obtain pre-qualification for a home loan, stick to a budget and search diligently for the properties that offer the best value for your money.
  • History. Newly-built homes and pre-owned homes that have been well-maintained will limit the amount you need to spend on upkeep over the next few years. This can make a big difference to your overall housing costs and ability to build up equity.
  • Updates. Similarly, you should look out for homes where the owners have already updated big-budget items like the electrical wiring, plumbing and roofing or renovated the kitchen and bathrooms. This could free up money to upgrade other parts of the property so you will be even less inclined to move.

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