Melanie Hearse - 9 Jul, 2019

How to take the emotion out of buying your first home

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Buyers’ agent Michelle May shares her top tips for keeping your emotions at arm’s length when picking and purchasing your first home.

It’s understandable your emotions try to play a role in purchasing your first home – home is where the heart is after all. It’s also often the biggest investment you’ll have made to date and represents some serious scrimping and saving. Buyers’ agent Michelle May says you’re also subconsciously looking at more than the bricks and mortar in front of you – the suburb, the street and styling sells us a lifestyle our emotions want to buy into.

“It’s also worth noting buying our first home usually coincides with other big life moments, which impact our emotions. It may be the first home you’re moving into with a partner, you may have just gotten married, perhaps you’re having your first child and you don’t want to keep renting – for example,” May says.

While there is a wise expression that one should avoid making big decisions or changes during emotional times, this is one occasion when it really can’t be avoided!

Why should you leave your emotions at the door?

It’s fine to acknowledge your emotions are there and they have a place, but it is essential to move them to the back of your mind – both when choosing a home and when entering the negotiations.

“You risk choosing a property that doesn’t fit your needs, overpaying or buying blind because you’ve neglected to do all the checks and inspections in your haste to secure the deal. You also risk investing your money in something that will wind up selling at a loss should it drop in value – and that’s expensive,” says May.

How do you leave your emotions at the door?

An experienced buyer’s agent can be helpful to those that struggle to keep emotions in check. “We provide a third person in your home hunting and buying relationship, one who can be completely objective.”

When she’s faced with an emotion-led client, she reminds them to keep this checklist in mind:

  • Consider the capital growth potential. While it is your first home, it’s also your first step on the property ladder, and if you don’t choose something that will go up in value, you’re putting yourself behind.
  • If this growth involves improvements (and don’t go for the worst house on the best street – it’s a myth, May says), she recommends getting a clear costing on any changes required and what this brings your tally to. “Too often people underestimate what a job will cost or overestimate their DIY skills.”

How to keep your feelings out of the negotiations

A good buyers’ agent brings more than neutrality to the table, they can also bring skill and knowledge of the local area and how the sellers’ agent operates. However, May says if you choose to DIY, she recommends visiting sites like Domain for sales data for your street and suburb and comparable properties – information a buyers’ agent can also provide you with.

“I also recommend getting an independent strata survey and a building and pest inspection done. These will ensure you are getting what you think you a paying for – a house that doesn’t have extensive pest or structural damage,” she says.

She says it’s important to respect that a sellers’ agent is highly skilled at doing the best for their client, and they’ll know how to ‘sell’ any faults you may raise to get more money for their client, and that may include plucking at your emotions.

“If this is something you struggle with, employ an experienced buyers’ agent who knows their tricks and can stay firm and neutral.”

At the end of the day, your emotions are understandably going to play a role in choosing and purchasing your first home, but it needs to be kept firmly in check. But while your emotions may be invaluable in helping you narrow down what you value in a first home, beyond that they can seriously lead you astray (do you really want that fibro shack with a dodgy roof just because it’s in that unattainable suburb your finances aren’t quite ready for?) or cause you to overpay.

For more tips and tricks, check out Michelle‘s Sydney Property Insider podcast – it’s got plenty of first home buying advice for folk living in any location.

Words by Melanie Hearse

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