Buying your first property can be stressful.
You would have no doubt heard of the dizzying number of exemptions, grants, schemes, and concessions available – but what does it all mean for you?
While it can be a daunting task to enter the property ladder, there are a few things to consider to get you on your way to homeownership.
In this article, we’ll help answer the burning question – is now the right time to buy?
1. Interest rates are at record lows
The cost of borrowing is currently cheaper than ever, with the average variable owner-occupier rate sitting at 3.18% and fixed rates at 2.24% across the banks (source). Some of the major banks are also offering lower rates below 2.00%. In even more good news, the Reserve Bank of Australia has announced they will not increase the cash rate for at least another two years (2023-24). While banks can adjust interest rates independently, we won’t see a significant rise. This is great news as it will keep monthly mortgage repayments down for an extended period.
2. A wide range of grants are still available
Despite the HomeBuilder grant finishing at the end of June, there is still a range of grants, schemes, and concessions available for first home buyers to take advantage of, including:
- The Regional First Home Owners Grant
A $10,0000 payment for eligible newly built homes, and home and land packages
- First Home Loan Deposit Scheme
Allows first home purchasers to buy their new home with a deposit as little as 5%. 10,000 new spots for the scheme have opened as of the 1st of July, and are available each financial year until the end of FY2024/25.
3. Robust house price growth
When the pandemic hit, initial predictions expected a fall in house prices, giving first home buyers more of an opportunity to enter the market. However, this has not happened. The median house price in Melbourne has increased by 17% over the past twelve months to clock over $1 million. While the lower interest rates help with the repayments, the largest hurdle for first home buyers is the minimum 10% deposit most banks require.
If you’re a first home buyer with a small deposit, it begs the question – where and what should you buy?
Buyer checklists have remained the same since the onset of the pandemic. Many are still looking for a modern home that fits their lifestyle and budget. So, is their goal still in reach?
Thanks to new suburbs in Melbourne’s outer growth areas (also known as ‘greenfields’ areas), land is still plenty and affordable, with the added bonus of being fully eligible for a range of grants and schemes. Increasingly, first home buyers have been looking not only at greenfields areas such as Casey, Hume and Melton, but also regional cities such as Ballarat and Bendigo in response to the changing work environment.
The table below shows the increasing activity of first home buyers. The proportion of first home buyers in Greater Melbourne’s growth areas has steadily risen from 2017 onwards, making up 55% of purchasers in the 2020-2021 financial year – up from 51% the year earlier and the low of 42% in 2018.
Buyers have been increasingly taking advantage of historically low interest rates and government assistance, leading to a surge that looks to continue well into the year.
With a plethora of builders in the market, first home buyers on any budget can find the right build for them, starting from as little as $125,000. Combined with the price of a plot of land, a first home buyer on a tight budget can buy their very own brand-new home for under $400,000 – a far cry from the $1 million established market price.
While some first home buyers may have to rejig their checklist of must haves when looking at traditional homes, townhomes are providing a better alternative to get into the property market on a tight budget.
They cater to the needs of a traditional home – look, feel and space, while having the advantage of often being located in premium areas within an estate, such as opposite a park or waterway. Best of all, they are typically priced in the $400,000 to $450,000 range, providing a building as large internally as a traditional house, but also being high-spec and low maintenance.
The Final Takeaway
It’s easy to fall in love at first sight when starting your property journey; however, it’s important to do your research to understand what you can afford. Be sure to take a look at a range of areas to find out if there is a home out there that will tick all your boxes. The current environment still has many factors remaining in favour of first home buyers. Thankfully, our research department creates comprehensive residential market reports that you can download for free (See Below) to give you a head start on your research. Keeping in mind these tips – you could easily be in a position to buy, or at the very least, make a start on your journey.
Ready to start your property journey? We’re here to help you every step of the way.