It’s not surprising that many first-home buyers keeping abreast of the latest property news are feeling the “fear of missing out”.

Interest rates are at an all-time low, restrictions on public auctions have eased, and some homes have been discounted according to recent data from

While these conditions can provide a boost for first-home buyers, on the flip side the number of homes for sale in April dropped 11.9 per cent year-on-year due to the advent of COVID-19 lockdowns and subsequent economic uncertainty.

With fewer homes to choose from, first-home buyers need to make sure they’re buying the right home and not a lemon.

Focus on value, not bargains

Buying a property should not be approached like snagging a deal on an item from a sales rack. While it may be tempting to add an extra bedroom to your search criteria as prices drop, you may end up having to forgo features that were more important to you before market conditions changed.

It’s never good to feel pressured into buying the wrong property. It may be tempting if you think the market is depressed and you have that fear of missing out. However history always tells us a cheap property is probably cheap for a reason!

For the most part it pays to focus less on the superficial appearance of a home and more on its structural bones and its location.

For many first-home-buyers they really want a quality asset that will then set them up for bigger things down the track.

One consideration may be any future residential development in the area, which could later affect the value of the home.

Location, location, location

Choosing a location is somewhat personal, but there are some key indicators buyers should look out for.

High on the list are usually convenience, proximity to work, transport, and lifestyle options such as parks and cafes as paramount. Although they may not be on all first-home buyers’ priority list, local schools should be considered.

Buyers should remember that a lacklustre house can be improved, but its location can’t be changed.

It can be easy to get romanced by beautifully presented or renovated properties that might be in poor locations. If the property is on a really busy main road, you can never change that. As nice as the kitchen or bathroom renovation is, it will always be a less desirable property.

Top real estate agents will always tell you it’s about whether the property is in a good street or pocket within the suburb. The old saying ‘worst house in the best street’, always seems to have merit.

You may also want to check and have a clear idea of any flight paths or traffic congestion that run near your property of choice to avoid being disappointed by noise pollution down the track.

When buying a property, especially for the first time, it may be prudent to bring along a family member or friend, as they may help point out things you miss.

Prioritise layout and structure

After considering location, buyers should prioritise finding a home with a floor plan that suits their current lifestyle, thereby avoiding the need for significant expensive renovations.

The cost of any work that a home requires should also be factored into the budget from the start. It can be really expensive to change the location of the kitchen or bathroom or laundry, so you need to make sure the floor plan works for you.

You should also consider whether building your first home is an option for you. This may take you further away from a capital city, however it may also help you get exactly the type of home or floor plan you want.

For many first-home-buyers their budget and deposit may influence property choice.

Consider life in five, 10 years’ time

For buyers considering starting or expanding their family while living in their first home, purchasing a property with room to grow can avoid the need to upsize too quickly.

Ideally your first home, if you can afford it, should have some scope for you to grow into it. A small yard may be ideal. If you can afford a third bedroom or a second bathroom then it might delay you growing out of the home.

Many real estate agents will advise clients to look at things like a bathtub in a house because if you’re going to have young children or a growing family, something as simple as a bathtub can be a deal-breaker.

Build relationships with trusted local professionals

With fewer homes listed for sale, local agents hold a wealth of knowledge on upcoming properties for sale. Larger brands like LJ Hooker, may offer their agents access to more data to help you.

By establishing relationships you place yourself on the radar of agents in your area so you’re in the best position when new listings come on the market.

You should also obtain a home loan pre-approval. LJ Hooker Home Loans lending specialists offer obligation free home loan pre-approvals, and can also provide you with unlimited property and suburb reports to help with your research.

By working with the right professionals you’ll put yourself in the best position to make the right moves.

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This article is prepared based on general information. It does not take into account individual financial objectives or needs and is not financial product advice. You should always undertake your own independent property research.