Kathryn Lee - 6 Aug, 2019

How to work out your non–negotiables when buying your first property

Scroll Down

Discover the best tips and tricks to ensure your home continues to satisfy your needs long after settlement.

You can’t always get what you want, but as The Rolling Stones once poignantly pointed out, if you try sometimes… you find you get what you need.

For many first home buyers, committing your entire life savings to one single asset might seem daunting, but there are ways to retain (some) control throughout the process.

By creating a list of non–negotiables prior to your search, you can establish important boundaries within a situation typically fraught with emotion.

Jay Anderson of Jay Anderson Property believes it’s important to identify your non–negotiables before the emotional rollercoaster of house hunting kicks in. Here are just a few points to consider when creating your own non–negotiables list.


Truth bomb – no matter what you do or how hard you try, you can’t change the location of your property. Sure, you can renovate that bathroom, but moving the house itself? Never going to happen.

“When looking at potential properties its best to avoid things that cannot be changed or overcome,” says Anderson. “This takes into account everything from busy roads to flight paths, powerlines, substations and poor natural light.”

Instead, Anderson suggests finding a property with minor issues that can easily be remediated such as paint colours, minor cosmetic renovations, repairs or cleaning.

“Removing the issue without overspending is the ideal outcome,” he adds.

As a potential buyer, there are also a number of location–based questions to consider including distance to public transport and local amenities and the maximum commute time you’d be happy with each day.

Finally, while there may be opportunities to spend less on certain properties, Anderson suggests thinking long–term.

“I’ve seen many first–time buyers become so fixated on getting a bargain property that they sacrifice key factors like location,” he explains.

“The truth is – a property on the main road may seem like a bargain compared to the other properties in the same suburb, but it will also be sold for a ‘bargain’ when the time comes for you to sell.”

Ultimately, if you can’t picture yourself being truly happy in the area, it might be time to consider other options.

Age and Style

When contemplating your first property, it’s important to establish whether you’re looking for an older home with character or a modern abode that requires little–to–no additional work.

Despite their visual charm and aesthetic, older homes typically require some level of renovation, remediation or addition, which can add up quickly.

“Compromising in this case can be a costly mistake not only financially but can also lead to you not wanting to stay in the property for as long as you had originally planned,” explains Anderson.

The Space Race

Sure, having some extra space might seem nice, but do you really need that additional bedroom? Take some time to think about the space you may or may not use in your new home.

If you’re planning to grow your family, additional rooms will definitely be necessary. If you’re not in need of extra space, ask yourself whether an additional room it’s worth the extra money.

When it comes to land and having that glorious big, backyard – remember each inch of space will cost, especially if you’re looking at a free–standing home. Smaller garden, smaller mortgage? Not such a bad idea after all…

Keep it real

When drafting your non–negotiables list, it’s worth adding in a reminder clause to always remain truthful to yourselves during the process of purchasing your first home. That way you can avoid falling into the trap of trying to justify the wrong property simply because it’s in your favourite area or it’s visually pleasing.

“An example of this would be convincing yourselves that buying that home next to the local pub wouldn’t be an issue as you can always wear earplugs in bed if the noise is too loud,” says Anderson.

By acknowledging hard truths, you’re giving your future–self the best chance at a home you’ll truly love, now and forever. 

Words by Alana Wulff

Looking to buy your first property? You may want to consider using one of eChoice’s experienced brokers to better understand the buying process. Plus, we also have access to hundreds of mortgage products, so we can help you find a competitive deal that best suits your needs.

Buying Your First Home?

Download our 15+ page guide today!

By submitting this form you're accepting eChoice's Privacy Policy.

You might also like:

Get your tailored home loan report. Start Now