Tips for Perth first home buyers

Getting stuck into your property search in Perth? Joe White, Vice-President of the Real Estate Institute of WA (REIWA), shares an insight on the first home buyer journey, and some handy things to think about when deciding what – and where – to buy.

1. Focus on the area, not the house

It’s easy to fantasise about that dream home, but what about the dream surroundings? According to Joe, “it’s how you live in the suburb, not how you live in the house.”

This means taking a good look at what’s around a prospective property. Joe suggests going for a walk in the area and looking at the community. Who’s around and what are they doing? What coffee shops and recreation spots are around?

“The joy you get from things outside play a big role in your life. The bigger the mix, the richer the culture.”

2. Find a location that makes sense for your life

As Joe says, “it doesn’t matter what your home looks like, you can always fix up a house, but you can never change its location.”

To understand the importance of this, it can help to put it into perspective by considering your time. 

“The one hour you’re spending on a bus – the opportunity cost is thousands of dollars over several years, which could equate to the cost of a second property in years to come. If you can save yourself a few dollars on the train each day, you can buy yourself more time.” 

Joe also looks at recreation opportunities as a big plus. “When you’re near the river, beach, or parkland, there’s lots of passive recreation opportunities.”

Speaking of places for recreation, “the closer you can get to Fremantle, the city, or the beach is a good place to go.”

See Joe’s Perth first home buyer picks for 2021.

3. Look at future plans and potential growth

If you’re planning on living there for a while, what it looks like in years to come is important. Joe suggests:  

  • Looking at how things are set out through town planning schemes
  • Checking out any strategic plans for the land in future (like big shopping centres, for example). What could be a small house on a busy road now, could turn into a prime development later
  • Having a look at where the new Metronet stations are going to be and calculating an 800m radius around those – that’s the distance that’s considered walkable. Joe believes the Metronet could be a gamechanger. “You’ll have a line of high density developments along the entire route, so the old house on the good block is where I would be focusing.”

Joe also notes that “it’s vital that when young people buy a house, they buy one that’s as easily leased to someone else as what it can be to live in themselves.” 

This is because if you move for a job, it’s better if you don’t have to sell your house.

4. Consider your budgets carefully

Joe stresses that there are two different budgets to consider when buying property – the budget to buy there and the ongoing budget of living there. 

“Things like communal swimming pools and communal lifts send strata costs through the roof, and the maintenance erodes a lot of income.”

Remember to also consider your future plans – for example, could you still afford it on one income due to having kids? 

Joe’s budget tips:

  • Not everything needs to be brand new. You can make do with older things that serve the same purpose
  • Don’t spend big money or place big importance on things you can get close by. For example, you don’t need a home theatre when you can get Netflix on your laptop
  • Think twice before getting a pool. As Joe puts it, “people spend more time cleaning their pool than swimming in it – plus, there’s easy access to pools everywhere. Any money you’re spending on maintaining something like that is an extra repayment on your loan you can’t make.”
  • Start smaller – you don’t need as much space as you think (for example, you don’t need a massive office if you can work from other areas in the house).

5. Do your research and go in armed

Overall, Joe’s advice when it comes to crunch-time is “don’t make irrational decisions. The more info you’ve got, the better your decision will be.” 

Some key things to do include:

  • Search recent sales on reiwa.com. This will give you a good indication of the history of the property
  • Subscribe to RP Data or CoreLogic to get the property data, so you can go in armed with as much knowledge as the agent. “Remember, the conversation you’re having with the agent is the same conversation they’re having with the seller,” says Joe
  • Before putting an offer in, have a look at what it’s sold for previously, and what places around the area have sold for
  • The cheapest house in the best area is a good rule to go by, so knowing what other houses around the area have sold for is vital.

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The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice. Also to the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL / Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accept no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this article.