When it comes to purchasing a first home, many buyers have done their research, identified their essential criteria for a new home and know what to look out for when viewing properties. However, there are also some lesser-known factors that can impact your experience when transacting, or during your home ownership, that new buyers need to be aware of. We have outlined these seven factors below, to help you feel fully prepared for the purchase of your first home:

1.      Planning on doing extensive work? Get advice from qualified tradespeople

Many first home buyers purchase property with the intention of conducting some DIY improvements. If you intend to undertake renovations or improvements on the property, seek advice from qualified tradespeople to assess the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of your plans. They can provide valuable insights into the potential challenges and expense involved. This is especially crucial if you only want to purchase the home on the assumption that you will be able to complete the improvements. Costs and council consents can often throw a spanner in the works with DIY plans, so it’s good to have an accurate assessment of any implications before buying.

2.      Ensure it’s not a leaky home

If the property you’re considering purchasing was built between the 1980s and mid 2000’s, there is a chance it could be a ‘leaky building.’ Not only can leaky buildings be a nightmare for homeowners if there is extensive damage, but this can also impact your lending eligibility.

Many banks will not lend on properties that are likely to have water tightness issues. You may also be excluded from some government schemes that assist first home buyers, or you may be required to have a 20% deposit. Find out more about the implications of leaky homes HERE.

3.      Check that the house can be insured

Insurance is a crucial aspect of homeownership, providing financial protection against unforeseen events such as natural disasters or accidents. Before offering on a property, check that it’s insurable and research insurance options to ensure adequate coverage. Certain types of properties may be excluded from affordable insurance premiums, such as those in high-risk areas for natural disasters, properties with difficult access, dwellings older than 50 years or homes that weren’t constructed by a qualified contractor. Find out more about the importance of home insurance HERE.

‘If you can’t find an insurer to insure the home you want to buy, it’s safer to walk away’ - settled.govt.nz

4.      Find out what the neighbours are like

Neighbours can significantly impact your living experience. Ask your real estate salesperson if they know much about the neighbours of the property you’re interested in. Look for signs that the neighbours take care of their property. Be aware of excessive noise levels during your viewings, parked vehicles encroaching on the driveway or section of the property you are viewing, or any other signs of impending friction.

5.      Consider the long-term suitability of the location

Consider the zoning and proximity to schools if you have children or plan to in the future. If you are buying further afield for affordability, evaluate how the increased cost and time spent commuting will impact your lifestyle. It’s also a good idea to contact the local council to ask about future changes to zoning or planned developments in the area, in case this impacts your plans or the resale value of the property.

6.      Get quotes for conveyancing

Conveyancing refers to the legal process of transferring property from one party to another. This is done by either a lawyer or a property conveyancer, depending on your needs. There is a lot of work involved in conveyancing, and fees for the service can vary by a significant degree. It pays to do your research, look into reviews, contact different lawyers and conveyancers, and seek a quote with a full fee breakdown.

7.      Assess future affordability

Assess your finances based on your future goals, as opposed to your current level of affordability. Take into account plans like travel, maternity leave, or changes in career path. Consider how these future plans will affect your ability to service the mortgage as well as the ongoing costs of home ownership such as rates, insurance and maintenance. Aim to keep your costs at a level you can still service during these planned changes of income, to avoid financial strain. It's also wise to have a contingency fund set aside for unexpected repairs or emergencies, ensuring you can handle any unforeseen expenses without jeopardising your financial stability or having to forego future goals.

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