First Home Buyers - 30 May, 2019

How to get into the property market when you’re not on a 6-digit salary

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If like thousands of Australians you’re eager to dip your toe in the property pool but not sure you’ll ever be able to save enough – take a deep breath and remember where there’s a will, there’s a way. With a little luck, good timing and out-of-the-box thinking – your dream home isn’t as far off as you think.  

That’s what friends are for

Emma Dallas was desperate to leave the rental roller-coaster behind but knew the only way to get what she wanted was by partnering with a friend. When her long-time pal, Ben, also found himself in a similar position, the two quickly joined forces and hatched their plan.

“We were single and had steady jobs, so we decided to buy together as friends” she explains.

For Emma, joining forces with a friend made property ownership a reality.

Despite a combined budget, the two still couldn’t buy off the plan, and new flats were out of their price range.

“Instead, we looked for a flat that would suit the needs of two single adults – two decent-sized bedrooms and two bathrooms.”

But the process wasn’t necessarily easy.

“Buying was even more competitive than renting,” Emma says. “We were gazumped on five properties before I turned into a negotiating machine.”

There was also a degree of luck in their eventual purchase, with Emma admitting she had her solicitor’s assistant jump into a taxi to deliver their offer and deposit by hand.

“We beat another couple by five minutes.”

For couples or friends looking to purchase a property, Emma is a big believer in preparation.

“Find out how much the quarterly strata fees are, arm yourself with knowledge and practice your negotiation skills before you make an offer.”

Country lovin

You don’t have to move to the middle of nowhere to buy a property but looking outside the usual areas can have major benefits for first-time buyers.

When Amy, 34, and her husband found themselves searching for their ideal home – the couple quickly realised they were going to have to make a number of sacrifices. The pair decided to move interstate and eventually settled in Tasmania.

“We found a cheap piece of land in the country and put a deposit on it,” says Amy. “The land wasn’t perfect – it was on a slope and had a strange shape, but it was quiet, a decent size and near good schools.”

In order to have the money to build their dream home, the two recognised the need to take their budgeting to a new level and purchased a run-down 1970s caravan, which they moved onto the land.

“We had no running water or power,” Amy divulges. “Once we had saved enough, we contacted a smaller building company and things moved really fast.”

The pair are now the proud owners of a four-bedroom house on a one-acre block.

“Think outside the box, have your end goal in mind and don’t be afraid to live life simply,” says Amy. “Even if it means living in a caravan for a while…”

Don’t let knock-downs get you down

When Blake Rochford-Cole purchased his property in 2013, he experienced a number of roadblocks, which turned out to be blessings in disguise.

“I wanted to buy near the water in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and studied the market for almost a year before purchasing,” he explains. “I made an offer on an off-the-plan apartment, but thankfully, it was knocked back.”

Blake quickly realised how little bang for his buck he was actually getting in the area and decided to head up the coast to look at properties near Umina Beach.

“My wife and I checked out the local area at least 10 times before I put an offer in,” he admits.

Although Blake’s wife initially hated the house (he bought a self-proclaimed “asbestos shack”), the couple spent six years renovating the house to create their dream home. The simple and former holiday house eventually became a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with modern fittings and an open kitchen.

B is for budget    

Anthony was just 26 when he managed to purchase his first home in 2015.

“I’d saved a considerable amount,” he admits. “Being an accountant (who isn’t on a six-figure salary), I’ve always understood the importance of budgeting and ensuring the investment is something that is affordable.”

Anthony now only spends after saving – ensuring his rental profits and the pay he receives each fortnight are immediately deposited into his loan account.

“My number one rule is I cannot re-draw on that loan,” he explains. “I can legitimately see the house fully paid off by the time I turn 31.”

For Anthony, the rules are quite simple yet effective. Don’t spend money that doesn’t need to be spent, look at the money you’re spending on material items and most importantly, make sure you’re only getting into the property market once you’ve saved a decent deposit.

“Ensure the property is in your price range, that you can meet the repayments and base your overall budget on the house.”

Words by Alana Wulff

Are you saving for your first home but aren’t sure what your next step should be? eChoice can help you get that all-important pre-approval sorted so you can submit your offer with confidence. We have access to hundreds of products, so we’ll find you a competitive rate.

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