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Buy my first home Our guide to becoming a first time homeowner

Buying your first home can be both exciting and overwhelming. After all, it’s your first step onto the property ladder and quite possibly your first major investment.

It’s also an expensive and time-consuming process. So even though this is your first one, you should try to ensure that you’ll be happy in it for as long as possible.

Credit Union SA has created this guide to help you do exactly that.

Work out what you want and where

One of the earliest and most important things to do is to take the time to consider your wants and needs – not just today, but how you anticipate them changing in the foreseeable future.

A critical aspect to this is identifying your ideal location(s), in terms of proximity to your work, family and social networks, lifestyle activities and environmental appeal.

Do your research with real estate agents and online sites to work out if you can afford to buy in the areas you want to live. If not, you might want to consider buying an investment property in a cheaper area and renting where you work and play. That way you’ll still be building equity in your own property, but without sacrificing the things you care about.

Understand the costs of buying

There are many costs involved in buying a home, so it’s important to factor them all into your budget when working out how much you need to borrow.

One of the biggest costs for first-home buyers is often lenders’ mortgage insurance (LMI). LMI is insurance paid for by the buyer, which protects the lender against the risk of the buyer not paying back their loan. It’s usually required if you borrow more than 80% of the value of the property, so the bigger the deposit you can save, the less you’ll need to pay on LMI.

Establish a realistic budget

Owning your own home is a wonderful feeling, but that glow can wear off quickly if your mortgage repayments force you to sacrifice the good things in life. So take the time to work out exactly how much you can afford to repay – now and in the future.

Choose the right loan for you

It’s very important to choose the right home loan for your circumstances. This could save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan and give you flexibility for the future. Credit Union SA can help you with this. One of our Mobile Managers can visit you at your convenience - just make an appointment when it suits you.

Get loan pre-approval

Acquiring home loan pre-approval will allow you to start shopping around for your home with the confidence of knowing exactly what you can afford to offer. This is particularly important if you’ll be bidding at an auction, as auction purchases tend to have no cooling-off period.

Now the fun part - find a home!

With your budget finalised and home loan pre-approval in hand, you’ll be ready to begin the search for your home in earnest.

Have a good look around and when you think you’ve found a winner remember to take a look at our property reports for the suburb it’s in. They’ll help you make an informed decision as to whether it’s good value for money.

Make your offer ‘subject to finance’

When you’re ready to put in an offer, be sure to make it ‘subject to finance’. Even if you have pre-approval for a home loan, you’ll still need to formally apply for it and receive unconditional approval before you can actually pay for the new property.

You may also need to make the offer subject to a satisfactory building inspection if you haven’t arranged one already. This is a critical step, because if it turns out your dream home has all the structural integrity of a sandcastle it’s better you find out before you’re fully committed.

Reflect and reassess

Choosing a home can be very emotional and it can be easy to fall in love with the idea of living somewhere. It can happen to anyone, so it’s important that during the cooling off period you take the opportunity to objectively review the reasons why you’ve chosen the property.

Remind yourself of all the functional qualities you need in the home and don’t let a fresh lick of paint or nice garden distract you from a lack of bedrooms.

Arrange insurance

After the cooling off period has expired the property will be legally your responsibility, so you’ll need to ensure you have building insurance organised by then. Even though legal title doesn’t pass to you until settlement, make sure you’re covered from the time you sign the contract.

The ultimate in savings and flexibility.

Undisputed champions of flexibility.

Sometimes a bit of certainty is as good as a holiday.


Calculate your repayments for different loans, for various terms and payment frequencies.

Get a realistic estimate of your borrowing capacity based on your likely income and expenses.

Find out in an instant what the mandatory government fees will be at different property purchase prices.

This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Conditions, fees and lending criteria apply and are available on request.

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