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As a first home buyer you may be feeling completely lost when it comes to your search for that perfect home for your family. Seeking out a great home at a fantastic price might feel like a pipe dream, but with the right groundwork, you can find that perfect space that feels tailored exactly to your needs.

1. Look for non-negotiables first.

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With a little ingenuity and expenditure, you can change nearly anything about the internal layout or feel of your home. A new kitchen, an extension that brings a new room or wing into the home, or a refresh to the flooring can all be achieved in any home. What you can’t change are the surroundings. If you want to live on a hill with a great view of the night sky or within walking distance of your children’s school you will have to narrow your search area to include only homes in locations that fit these needs. Clarify your non-negotiable to yourself before you start figuring out other details like mortgage rates and monthly payments or even contact a real estate agent.

2. Start on your finances early.

Planning out your road to homeownership starts early. The average first time homebuyer in Australia is 34 as of just a few years ago and continuing to rise by all accounts. Many first time home buyers need to take out a home loan to fund their home, so you should start researching mortgage loans ahead of time. Loan terms are most favorable for borrowers with great credit scores or collateral that can be leveraged to provide more stability. Home loan rates and eligibility depend on a variety of factors, but chief among them is an estimation of your ability to pay the monthly payments on time and without financial strain. The thinner you are spread, the less likely you are to make on-time payments. This calculation is represented in part through your credit score and your overall savings profile. The larger your down payment, the better offer on a home loan you can wrangle in the form of a lower interest rate. Start planning for this major expense early so that you can sail through the mortgage loan application process with your lender and bag a great low rate loan.

3. Spend time in the area before buying.

Spending a day during the weekend can really give you a great sense of the overall atmosphere that you may be moving into. To really understand the neighborhood you will want to check it out during a weekday evening and at random times throughout the week if possible as well. Spending time walking the streets of this prospective new home will help you to identify the types of communities that you love, and those that you hate. Take the time to evaluate the area before pulling the trigger on your first mortgage loan in order to make sure you are purchasing the home of your dreams.

4. Think about other intangibles.

Some inclusions in a home you cannot change and yet make up the core of the exact home you are looking for. Others are simply nice perks. A house within a reasonable distance from your favorite team’s stadium or a yard that has a pool already built-in may not be high on your list of desires, but they’ll round out the perks of a great home that you will enjoy for years to come.

5. Save room in your budget for furnishings.

Furnishing your new home is another important consideration and one that is easy to forget about in the excitement of closing on that perfect new home. Make sure that you hold back some of your funding in order to account for the new beds, couches, and dining furniture that your new house will require in order to truly make it a home. Purchasing upgraded models in this move-in period is also a great idea if your budget will allow. Luxury items will make your home more comfortable and last far longer than their standard counterparts, saving you money in the long run and improving the home at the same time.