• Hamish McDonald



The first step you take in preparing yourself to purchase has to be to figure out what your budget is. Many banks have mortgage calculators online but I always advise buyers to get onto a good mortgage broker from the outset.

Even if you already have a good relationship with your bank, you will almost always get a better deal by working with a broker and typically a wee cash bonus too (great for covering legal fees and the like). A mortgage broker will work with you to assess your situation and work through your financials, then ‘sell’ you to several banks and receive offers for your business.

Even if you are not quite ready, they can tell you what to focus on in order to better your position. This might involve paying down credit or store card debt, cutting down on discretionary spending or speaking with family to see whether they are in a position to help you get your foot on the property ladder. Many first home buyers are fortunate to receive financial assistance from parents or grandparents, often known as an inheritance in advance but this has to be a gift, as a loan will impact on what you can borrow from a bank.

Best of all, a mortgage broker won’t charge you a cent! They are paid by the banks when a successful transaction takes place.


This can be a lot easier said than done! Figure out what are your non-negotiables and what are your nice to haves.

It used to be said that if you get 7 or 8 out of 10 on your wish list, you should buy the house, but to be honest, in this market if you get to 5/10, I reckon you should make an offer.

I have seen so many buyers over the last few years hold out for the “perfect” home. They often say things like they are “not in any hurry” or will wait for the market to slow down or stagnant. Unfortunately, as time passes and the market goes up, they find that the home they end up buying, is nowhere near as good as they could have purchased just 6-12 months earlier.


As you know, multi-offer situations are the norm so you will almost always be competing for the property you want to buy. You improve your chances significantly if you make your offer ‘unconditional’ or in other words ‘a cash offer’.

Time and time again, I meet with first home buyers that have been told by the bank that any offer must be made conditional on finance, even when the bank has given ‘pre-approval’ up to a certain dollar amount. Often times, getting these buyers working with a good mortgage broker means they can move into an unconditional position.

These days most vendors and agents will make a LIM report (report from the council) available with other pre-purchase information about the property, so fewer and fewer offers these days are made conditional on a LIM report. Make sure to ask your agent if you are not offered a LIM report when you view the property.

Many buyers looking at older properties quite rightly want a building report before committing to the purchase. If you can, it might be worth getting this sorted before you make the offer. Making an offer subject to a building report can be a raffle ticket offer for a vendor who is comparing your offer to unconditional alternatives often at a lower price. The vast majority of vendors prefer a lower cash offer to a higher offer subject to a builder’s report, which can and often does, require a renegotiation of the purchase price before the property is sold.

Vendors like certainty. When they make a decision to sell, they want sold!