First Home Buyers Guide to Purchasing Your First Home

Discover some tips and guidelines for those thinking of buying their first home. The ultimate guide is designed to empower first-time buyers throughout the entire home buying process.


Buying a house or an apartment is the biggest financial commitment that most people will make in their lives. Buying property is also complex because it involves a financial, aesthetic and emotional considerations. Your new purchase should be a sensible investment, but it also needs to feel like a real home – somewhere you can put down roots, raise your children and build a future. Detailed planning and research are therefore essential. Just follow this step-by-step guide and always seek expert advice if you are unsure of anything.

Finding the right property

Navigating the real estate market

First up, set a few basic criteria for your property search. Think about the number of bedrooms, bathrooms and parking spaces you need. Consider things like access to schools, shops and public transport. For a comprehensive overview of the Sydney property market start browsing and which both carry a large number of listings and can be filtered by suburb, property type, number of bedrooms and many other factors. Register at the Domain website or app for regular property alerts. [1]

Researching neighbourhoods

Before you settle on a particular suburb it’s worth knowing how property has been performing there – this can be done quickly online. You will also need know about key services such as shops, restaurants, schools, playgrounds, parks and public transport. Visit the neighbourhood for yourself to see if it meets your expectations. Search the local council website to see if there are any major developments planned which might affect the area’s liveability.

Working with real estate agents

First homebuyers may want to contact a real estate agent who should be able to provide useful background on the area and news of any projects that might affect property prices. If you register with the agency, they will send regular alerts of potential property to buy. Agents will usually want to know how much you have to spend, so work out your budget beforehand and jot down a list of other requirements you might have, such as access schools, transport, cafes, medical centres and sporting facilities.

Assessing property values

In a volatile market such as Sydney trying to forecast future trends is better left to industry experts. Buyers should sign up for a couple of free property blogs, such as Michael Yardney’s Property Update, and use the research data on and which is available free of charge. CoreLogic publishes regular updates on the state of the residential property market in Australia. [2] Speaking to local real estate agents is another good way to research the market – start attending open days to see what is on the market.

Making the purchase

Steps in closing the deal

Once you have selected a property that meets all of your requirement it’s time to work out a deal with the sales agent. Use your time at the display suite to ask lots of questions about your future apartment – what is the exact size, what are the strata fees, does the apartment come with a parking space ? Ask to see several layouts at the price point you can afford and choose the one that suits you best.

Offer and negotiation

While developers usually present would-be buyers with a fixed price list based on the number of bedrooms, floor space and type of fittings, there may be some room for negotiation. A sales agent might sweeten the deal by offering an apartment which is on a higher level or an added inclusion. Buyers should see what other developers in the same area are offering at a similar price-point.

Home inspection checklist

As a development takes shape buyers will be offered the chance to inspect the site prior to completion and tour a display suite. Make sure that you look at every aspect of the apartment, including cupboards, taps, light fittings and extraction fans. Make sure that the kitchen appliances match the description that you were given and that the quality of the tiles, carpets and blinds meets your expectations.

Legal aspects to consider

Your solicitor or conveyancer will review every aspect of the contract, when he or she is happy with the document there will be formal process known as the exchange of contracts. The contract is a legal document between the seller and purchaser. Two copies of the contract are drafted – the original is signed by the seller and the duplicate is signed by the purchaser. The contracts are then exchanged. Settlement occurs typically 14 to 42 days after this. [3]

Post-purchase guidance and tips

 Settling into your new home

The first few days of homeownership are incredibly exciting, but it’s important that you fully understand every aspect of the apartment and the building complex. Read all the instruction manuals supplied with your welcome pack. Fully explore the building, including the car park, storage cages and communal areas.

Essential tips for moving in

The building manager must be formally notified of the time and date of your move – his or her contact details will be included in your welcome pack. Your removal company should follow all instructions about where to park, how to use the lifts and protecting common areas and surfaces within your apartment.

 Managing finances post purchase

Buying a property involves many additional expenses, such as insurance, removal fees and service connection fees, so make sure that you have sufficient funds to cover them.  Remember that as the owner of an off the plan apartment you are also responsible for all utility bills and the quarterly strata fees. [4]

Long-term homeowner advice

Your relationship with your bank or other lending organisation does not come to end just because you have moved into your new apartment. Changes to interest rates may affect your mortgage repayments or your financial situation may change – if so contact your bank immediately. Once you have secured a substantial equity in your new property you may want to invest in a second or third property. Once again, this is something you need to discuss with your bank, credit society, accountant or financial counsellor.


First-timers often find the process of buying property intimidating, confusing or, in some cases, downright frightening. But the rewards of home ownership are immense – both financially and in terms of your future lifestyle. ALAND has a selection of upcoming developments across Greater Sydney and the Central Coast to choose from. Take a look at our current projects:

You might be interested in…


[1] Domain

[2] CoreLogic

[3] NSW Family & Community Services

[4] NSW Family & Community Services

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