What you need to know
Buying a house in Australia, let alone any country, is a lifelong ambition for almost everyone, particularly those who have immigrated to a new destination. It provides a sense of stability and belonging that is unrivalled. The buying process may be stressful but it’s usually worth it.
Home buyers from overseas can be a little daunted with how you go about purchasing a home in Australia, but luckily you’re not alone. One third of people living in Australia today were actually born elsewhere, so finding a home as an immigrant is a process a lot of people understand.
When you come to buy a property, generally there’s some initial fatigue whilst you learn the real estate agents’ jargon and the typical forces at play in the market. However, once you’ve got your teeth into it, finding a home can be fairly easy to navigate.
The biggest mistake first time buyers make is heading straight for the real estate websites. It’s good to understand what you want, but assess your situation first. What is the actual price range you’re comfortable with? Have you looked at your income and how that translates into a budget? Consider if it’s worth saving a little longer to put down a larger bond, deposit or down payment on the loan you take out.
It’s also a good idea to assess the local market. Generally, Australia has a strong economy, but you can get stuck if you buy at a peak and have to sell in a downturn. Many predict that house prices may fall towards the end of 2020, so pick the right time to get the most for your money.
Set your goals about what you want from a house, what you can afford and then go to market with a clearer idea. It makes life so much easier for you and everyone you deal with in the buying process.
Cost of buying a house in Australia
Australia has high average wages compared to their cost of living; this means earning and saving in Australia may be the best way to accrue the capital you need to buy a home. You get a lot for your money in Australian property – we actually have the largest houses per square meter in the world. However, it’s worth looking at your own situation to keep your costs to a minimum.
Have you contacted a mortgage broker to see if they can get you a better deal? Often brokers can get better interest rates due to their understanding of the market, but do try to find one who comes well recommended. Calculate your mortgage payments and total stamp duty to understand what’s not going towards your actual home value. These costs can feel complicated and slight, but they can be surprisingly expensive and are worth considering.
Finding a home
As with all things, there are several online platforms to check out when you start to search for a property. Check out sites such as Domain, Real Estate & Property. Contact local real estate agents to see what they have and make them aware of what you’re looking for. It’s also worth checking local Facebook groups, newspaper listings and other potential sources. Be as proactive as you can as it can be a very competitive market.
The best way to approach finding a home is to understand the balance and the trade-offs you’re going to have to decide on. For example, size will have to compromise on location, and garden space comes at a premium. Do you want an investment property that will increase in value or somewhere you really love living? Keep these things in mind as you approach each property. Prioritisation is critical to making the right decision. But most importantly, it has to feel right.
A unique aspect to Australia’s property market is the incentives for those building their own homes. Land and build packages mean you could help design your perfect home and have it built for you! There are tax offsets and other financial benefits that you can take advantage of in this process. Building your own home is a dream for many in other countries, but it’s far more feasible in Australia as the government wants more real estate stock in the market! Be aware though, often the cheap land packages can be in areas quite far away from desirable locations with fairly high transport costs and low amenities. Take a look at the government’s guidance on the process if you’re interested.
Making an offer
Generally, when you’re looking to buy a house in Australia, an offer is made via a real estate agent or directly with the seller to form a private treaty. Before you go through with it, ensure you’ve done the necessary checks on the house, such as pest inspection, etc. We’d also suggest trying to go no more than 5-10% under the asking price, unless you’re confident in your position. You should also make use of cooling off periods if you think you’ve made the wrong decision – it’s a life changing amount of money, not to be taken lightly.
Want to learn more about moving to Australia?
If you’re interested in learning about specific locations in Australia, we’d also recommend our Affordable Places To Live series. You can find affordable places to live in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Darwin and Adelaide.
For more advice on moving to Australia, check out our Guide To The Cost Of Living In Australia.