From attending open houses to closing on a deal, house hunting can be exciting and daunting at the same time – especially if it’s your first property. But even if your path to homeownership takes a few turn, the main thing is not to go off course.

So how can you make sure that a certain house is ‘the one’? And what happens next?
Here’s a handy six-step guide for you.

Know your borrowing power

How much can you borrow? It’s the first of all mortgage questions, and the key to understanding what you can afford to buy.

There are a number of factors to consider, including your income and credit score. If you’d like to get a rough idea of the numbers, using an online calculator is a good starting point: bank and non-bank lenders usually have their own, and a quick online search will bring up dozens of suggestions.

But if you’re looking for a more accurate figure, you may opt for getting your mortgage pre-approved by one or more lenders – which is something a Mortgage adviser can help you with.

The benefit of working with a specialist

Like to keep your options as open as possible? Before you restrict your choice to what your bank has to offer, consider having a Mortgage adviser work for you.

Mortgage advisers can shop around and find the most competitive rates, while also helping you tailor your home loan to your needs. Then, as the years go by, they’ll be in your corner to help you pay off your mortgage faster.

Get to know the property market

Websites like Trade Me – Property Insights and are a home buyer’s go-to place for basic information on sold prices, RV valuations and estimated market values. You may find yourself spending hours on exploring entire suburbs, click by click…

However, keep in mind that those are just rough estimates. To get the real picture, you might need to put your comfy shoes on and do some legwork.

Open homes are like ‘first dates’

Finding the right home for you will require some field work. The more open homes you attend, the more you’ll be able to piece together a picture of your desired property, suburb, and features. Plus, why not let two or three real estate agents know what you’re looking for? They may keep you in the loop, and you won’t miss out on a great opportunity.

Perfect or nah?

The moment you lay eyes on your potential first home can be exciting. You’ve found it, it’s the one. But before you let the excitement take over and dive head-first into home ownership, there’s one important question to ask: is there more than meets the eye?

Of course, real estate agents must tell you about any issues they’re aware of, but what if they don’t know everything? What if there are hidden problems lurking in the shadows?

With some expert help, you can save yourself from making a costly mistake. A lawyer will help you identify contractual issues and problematic clauses, while a qualified inspector will check out the property from top to bottom, looking for structural defects. Their reports may cost you around $1,000 but trust us, they’re worth every cent.

The end of a journey, the start of another

If you’ve come this far and are confident that this is the property you want, it’s time to make an offer. Depending on the type of sale, you may have to win a property auction, negotiate the price with the vendor, or put down the highest bid (tender).

Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to set a reasonable budget and try not to overbid. Knowing how much you can afford will help you keep emotional judgements to a minimum, allowing you to cross the finish line on your terms.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.