Lessons I learnt on my home buying journey


At the start of 2020, my partner and I started our home buying journey. Despite watching plenty of real estate TV shows and having a general understanding of property, we were both out of our depth when it came to the time and effort you need to put into the search for your first home.

When we started visiting 6+ open homes every weekend, we had to come up with a process to remember each place and compare it to the others.

We came up with a list of things we wanted in a home, a list of things we could sacrifice for a better suburb or cheaper price, and another list of bonuses that would make a property more desirable than another, e.g. aircon, lock up garage, a view.

For each open home, we wrote a list of pros and cons. This way it was easy to see the properties where the cons outweighed the pros and we could cross them off the list. It also helped to be able to look back on our first impressions of a property.

In conjunction to the never-ending scrolling of Domain and realestate.com.au, we were meeting with a home loan specialist at a bank to find out our borrowing capacity. Once we had pre-approval, we were able to start making offers. What we learned here was that if you miss out on a property that you put an offer on (or bid on at auction) in the moment it may feel like you missed out on the perfect place, but the truth is that it wasn’t meant to be, and a better option will come along eventually.

When one of our offers was eventually accepted, I found this to be the most hectic time of the whole process. Everything felt like it was happening quite fast, and it was hard to process all of the important things in all of the contracts. We also found that there was a whole bunch of fees popping up that we had no idea about!

Apart from Lenders Mortgage Insurance and Stamp Duty, no one had warned us about the list of other things we would need to pay for or how expensive these things could be.

Here is a list of all the fees that came up at varying times throughout the purchasing process:

  • Paying to access strata reports
  • Solicitor/conveyancing fees
  • Pest inspection
  • Building inspection
  • Stamp duty
  • LMI (Lenders Mortgage Insurance)
  • Bank fees
  • Government transfer fees
  • Any fees included in the contract, such as the vendor’s solicitor fees or paying back the vendor for pre-paid strata and council fees.

The biggest lesson I learnt at the end of the home buying journey is to ask your mortgage broker or home loan specialist at the start of your journey exactly what fees you need to save for on top of your deposit. I believe that a lot of first home buyers put so much effort into savings up a large enough deposit, but may not be aware that they need extra savings for all of the other things that come with buying a home. I would also add that it is important to work with a mortgage broker and solicitor or conveyancer that you trust and one that is happy to explain all the technical terms and processes to you.



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