What are the most valuable features to look for in your first home?
Richard Whitten, Senior Home Loans Writer at Finder
Buying a house is a huge milestone and most likely the biggest purchase you’ll ever make in your life. You’ll need to put down a sizable chunk of your savings for a deposit and borrow an eye-watering amount from the bank.
It's a big decision, and you need to make sure you're looking for a property that ticks all the boxes that matter to you. Finder recently surveyed over 1,000 first home buyers to uncover the value-adding features they look for when choosing a home.
These features can determine the future growth potential of a property and how liveable it is right now.
Location topped the list of property features first home buyers are most interested in – and for good reason. When buying a home, a great location is always a plus, regardless of real estate price fluctuations.
While a good location can mean different things to different people, there are several objective factors that can determine a property’s value. This includes things like proximity to shops, local schools, infrastructure, the neighbourhood crime rate, the street and the block of land itself. A great location doesn’t have to mean blue-chip, inner-city suburbs either. Peripheral suburbs can be a good place to buy for a cheaper price, as can outer areas on the cusp of major growth.
Proximity to public transport
For many Australian workers, commuting is an unavoidable part of life. Although remote working boomed during COVID-19, many workplaces now require their staff to work from the office for a couple of days each week.
Suburbs or developments that are close to train stations or bus interchanges have become a hot commodity. Most first home buyers are unable to afford a property close to the CBD and many look to the outer suburbs instead. While this may be more affordable, it can often mean a longer commute time.
When searching for your first home, always take into account its proximity to the closest train station or major bus stop, along with the frequency of stops along the route. Not only will this make your commute more bearable, you’ll also save money on fuel costs.
Low neighbourhood crime rate
According to Finder’s research, 1 in 4 (25%) first home buyers say a low neighbourhood crime rate is important to them when choosing a property. This may be especially true for young families or elderly people.
There are several steps you can take to determine how safe a neighbourhood is. Local crime statistics are available on state government websites which categorise incidents of theft and break-ins by postcode. Real estate websites also provide comprehensive suburb profiles which are a good source of socio-economic information. You can also go for a walk around the neighbourhood to really get a feel for the area.
Projected price growth
Many parts of Australia are projected for major price growth over the next few years, particularly in regional areas where markets are already benefiting from the rise in remote working. For instance, property prices throughout certain parts of the NSW Central Coast were up 68% year-on-year in March 2021, as Sydneysiders seeking a quieter lifestyle flocked to the coastal region.
Other factors that can impact a region’s future growth potential include major infrastructure spending, lifestyle benefits, supply and demand, demographics, neighbourhood ripple effect and falling vacancy rates. Purchasing in an area slated for future growth is a smart way to maximise your investment as a first home buyer.
The quality of the build
You should always examine the quality of a build before buying – regardless of whether you intend to renovate. Look for a home that’s structurally sound with strong foundations and quality insulation. It’s also a good idea to get a building inspection done beforehand to ensure that you’re purchasing a quality property or know what repairs you’ll need to undertake yourself.
Features to consider include a flat block (as opposed to a sloping one), natural light, privacy, a garage or storage area, whether the home has carpets or floorboards and the quality of the paint job. A good renovation can add thousands to the value of your home, but you need to make sure that the home has a solid foundation.
Buying a home can be an overwhelming process. But listing the features that are important to you and will add value to your home can help narrow down your search.