Are you asking yourself these 3 important questions about your first home?

02/03/2020
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Welcome to the start of your property buying journey! It’s tempting to rush out to open homes and auctions, but you need to have a solid idea of what kind of home you want and need.

While everybody has different things on their first home wishlist, we’ve noticed that there are three primary factors that everybody should consider.

In this article:

  • The importance of location, size and age of your first home.
  • Should you buy a new or established home?
  • Must-haves and nice-to-haves
  • How long should you be in your first home?

 

1. WHERE SHOULD YOUR FIRST HOME BE?

Your first home should be within a reasonable distance to work, schools and the shops. What ‘reasonable’ means is up to you:

  • Are you okay with an hour drive to work, or do you need a shorter commute?
  • Do you want your kids to be able to walk to school, or are you happy for them to catch the bus?
  • Do you want a short shopping trip or are you happy with a longer one?

You can use Google Maps to get a general idea of how long it will take to drive, walk or use public transport to get to wherever you need to go.

Similarly, if you have kids or are planning to have kids, make sure your first home is inside an appropriate school zone. This is especially important if you have kids that are going to need to change schools.

It might be tempting to go straight for a city centre where everything is close by, but remember: the closer to the city centres you are, the less bang for your buck you’ll get. An apartment in a big city, like Auckland Central, can cost as much as a lifestyle block further out in the countryside.

 

2. HOW BIG SHOULD YOUR FIRST HOME BE?

Your first home doesn’t have to be huge, but it does have to be big enough. Consider how long you plan to live there and what your future needs might be. You might want a little room to grow, whether it’s for kids, boarders or flatmates.

Generally as a first home buyer, you’ll be deciding between a two- or three-bedroom home. The larger it is, the more expensive it is, so make sure that any extra space you decide on is worth it.

 

3. HOW OLD SHOULD YOUR FIRST HOME BE?

New Zealand has been going through a real housing construction boom lately, with almost 15,000 houses being consented in Auckland in 2019. For comparison, that’s about 2,000 more than 2018, and 4,500 more than 2017!

This means that there are lots of new builds coming on the market, many of which are suitable for a first home buyer.

New builds can be more expensive. They are usually (but not always) built with newer, better materials and may be more energy efficient as a result. They also come with some additional protections that established homes won’t have anymore. If anything isn’t right with the place, you may be able to get it fixed. Read more about these protections.

Established homes can be less expensive but they can have problems that aren’t immediately obvious which could be costly to fix. Fixer-uppers fall into this category.

New builds also have some benefits in terms of the rules around deposits you need to buy them, known as ‘loan-to-value ratios’ or LVRs. We’ll go into those later, but at this stage all you need to know is that you can usually buy a new build with a lower deposit.

What’s next?

Once you’ve decided on these three factors, you can start on your wishlist of other features, like:

  • Has a backyard
  • Has an office
  • Has multiple bathrooms
  • Has a deck
  • Has a up-to-date kitchen

And so on.

When you’re doing this, make sure to note which of these features are must-have and which are nice-to-have. A home office might be an absolute necessity for someone who is self-employed, but may not be so important to other people. If you’re buying with a partner, make sure you both agree on what’s important.

One last point: when you’re imagining your perfect first home, make sure you’re thinking of a place that you can stay in for about 3 to 5 years. This is generally how long you need to be in a home before selling it to avoid selling it for less than you bought it for. This is according to CoreLogic’s Pain & Gain report, which is mostly for investors, but also useful to know for home buyers too.

Got a good idea of the size, location and age of your first home? It’s time to start researching prices. Keep an eye out for next week’s guide on finding out how much you should expect to pay for a first home in your area!

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