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Everything you need to know about buying your first home

Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be downright confusing. That’s why we’ve put everything you need to know all in the one place.

Here you’ll find relevant articles, helpful guides, and handy FAQs to help you understand all stages of the home buying process. From tips for saving a deposit to what happens at settlement. So, you can buy your first home with confidence.

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At settlement
The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 1 - Making myself loan ready

In the first episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast, we’ll help you take that first big step onto the property ladder by making yourself loan ready. Prepare and stay informed to give you the best chances of success with a lender.

Read more
How to buy a home before you turn 30

For first-timers, there are loads of incentives, schemes and grants that can help you get your foot onto the property ladder. Read about to buy a home.

Read more
The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 2 - How much will I need?

In the second episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast, we explain the true cost of buying your first home, to help you budget accordingly. Gain a holistic overview of all the financial considerations involved.  

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Busted! Myths about millennials and home buying

Is home ownership impossible for millennials? Do they even care about having their own place? Join us as we bust some myths about millennials & home buying.

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The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 3 - Tips for saving

Join us as we unearth rich and relatable savings hacks that could help give your deposit the boost it needs. Tune in to the third episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast.

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Buying a home as a single parent

While buying a home as a single parent presents some challenges, it’s certainly not impossible. Let us show you how.

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What is loan to value ratio (LVR) and how do I calculate it?

What is Loan to Value ratio? What's it mean to you? How do you calculate it? All these answers and more to help guide you to buying a property.

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The pros and cons of buying a home versus renting

Choosing between purchasing a house and renting is one of the biggest financial decisions. Discover the advantages and disadvantages of renting vs buying a home

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Episode Five: Buying options

These days, you don’t just have to save a deposit and buy with your partner. There are lots of different ways to enter the housing market. Join Sophie as she explores all the options, from guarantors and buying with a family member to rent-vesting, we cover them all.

Listen now
What are the most valuable features to look for in your first home?

Find out the most valuable features to look for in your first home. These features can determine potential growth and livability – read more

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Should you build or buy your first home?

Want to know how to make your home cleaner and healthier, without relying too heavily on chemicals? Read our top 7 tips here on keeping everything clean.

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The extra costs of buying a home and how to minimise them

Your home is the biggest thing you'll ever pay for. Sadly the cost doesn't come in one neatly packaged bundle. That's why budgeting properly is a good move.

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Episode Eight: Finding the perfect property 

Looking for a property is one of the most exciting parts of the home buying journey. But how do you know what makes a good property? From making a wish list to pest inspections, join Sophie as she explores the process of finding the perfect property.

Listen now
The First Home Owner Grant - a simple guide

The First Home Owner Grant can be a massive help to anyone buying their first home. Find out how it works, whether you're eligible and how to apply.

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Have you considered the holistic and long-term costs associated with buying a home?

There are many factors to consider when buying a home. Upfront financial costs such as mortgage payments may be top-of-mind in the home buying journey, but have you thought about the ongoing running and maintenance costs for a larger home compared to a smaller one?

Read more
Ready to apply
The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 6 - Loan types: fixed vs. variable

Make a well-informed decision in choosing the right type of loan for you. Join us as we discuss fixed & variable loans in detail in the sixth episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast.

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What’s the difference between the interest rate and comparison rate?

Knowing the difference between the interest rate and comparison rate on a loan means making a fully informed decision is that bit easier.

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Fixed versus variable: What’s the difference in a nutshell?

What's the differences between a fixed and variable rates, and are there any other options?

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What is Lenders Mortgage Insurance and who needs to pay for it?

If your home deposit is below a certain amount, you may need to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance. Find out how it works here.

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The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 7 - Applying for a loan

Hear this insightful discussion on the entire journey of a loan application to make the process easy & less stressful for you. Join us on the seventh episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast.

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Top tips for buying at auction

A guide for buying a property at auction and navigating the process, rules, opportunities and risks involved - both before and during the auction.

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The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 9 - Making the offer

Learn the nuances of what you can expect while making an offer on a property. If you’re ready to take the big step & make an offer on your first home, the 9th Episode of The Clever Way Home Podcast is worth listening to.

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At settlement
Four ways to help you own your home sooner

If you're a home owner or looking to become one, here are some tips that could help you reduce the amount of interest you owe so you can own your home sooner.

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The Clever Way Home Podcast
Episode 10 - I bought a home… now what?

In the final episode of the Clever Way Home Podcast, we discuss the ins and outs to help you complete the purchase of your first home. Thank us later!

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The process of buying your first home

Buying your first home can be daunting. But what if we broke it down step-by-step? Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to do right now.

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A to Z of home buying

Buying a home, especially your first, can feel a little daunting at times. We’re here to help make your first home buying experience easier with our A to Z of home buying.

Read more

Home loans simplified

Heard some home loan lingo but are unsure what it means? Find the answers explained in simple terms (not bank-speak) right here.


What are the upfront costs when buying a home?

Apart from your deposit, there are a few other upfront costs you’ll need to be prepared for. These include:

  • Building and pest inspection
  • Solicitors' fees
  • Mortgage Registration Fee
  • Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (if applicable)
  • Transfer fees - also known as stamp duty (if applicable)
  • Home and/or contents insurance
  • Strata fees – if you’re buying an apartment or townhouse
  • Council rates and fees
  • Moving costs.

You may also want to set some extra funds aside for emergency repairs after you move in. Or if you’re breaking free from share house life, furniture, and appliances you don’t already own.
Unsure how much extra you need? Our Upfront costs calculator can do the sums for you.

How much should I aim to save for my deposit?

The deposit you contribute is considered the “equity” you hold in the property (obviously the higher the better).

We know that it can be hard to reach a 10% deposit, and harder to reach 20%. So, we have loan options available from as little as a 5% deposit.

What is Loan to Value Ratio (LVR)?

The Loan to Value Ratio (LVR) is the amount of the loan compared to the value of the property. The higher deposit you have, the lower your LVR will be.

LVR is expressed as a percentage. For example, if the home you’d like to buy is valued by the bank at $400,000 and the loan you need to purchase it is $320,000. The LVR is: $320k ÷ $400k = 80% LVR.

The LVR is based on the bank’s valuation of your property (which may differ from the amount you paid on the contract). From a lender’s perspective, the higher the LVR, the higher the cost and risk to the lender, which is why you’ll often see higher rates for higher LVR applications. Apart from getting a better rate, having 80% or lower LVR also means you could avoid paying Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI).


What's the difference between the interest rate and the comparison rate?

You may have noticed there are two rates in every home loan ad you see. One of these is the interest rate. This is the percentage of interest that the lender will charge on the balance of your loan per year and is used to determine your minimum monthly repayment.

The other is the comparison rate, which is a tool designed to help you identify the ‘true’ cost of the loan. The reason the comparison rate reflects a loan’s true cost is because it includes the interest rate plus any upfront and ongoing fees and charges.

Under the National Credit Code, banks must advertise both the interest rate and the comparison rate. That’s why you’ll usually find them sitting side-by-side when you’re looking for a loan.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp duty (sometimes called transfer duty) is a tax you pay when buying a property. There are a few factors that determine the amount payable, including the value or purchase price of the property, the State or Territory you’re buying in, and whether you're eligible for any concessions or exemptions.

What’s the First Home Guarantee?

The First Home Guarantee is a government initiative that provides eligible first home buyers the opportunity to buy or build their first home with a deposit as little as 5%.

Traditionally, home buyers need to save a 20% deposit to avoid paying costly  Lenders' Mortgage Insurance (LMI). For many Australians, saving a 20% deposit is a big barrier to getting onto the property ladder.

What is pre-approval?

Pre-approval is when a lender agrees in principle to provide you with a home loan. It gives you an indication of how much the bank is willing to lend you which can help you establish which properties are within your budget.
Applying for pre-approval is free and you’re under no obligation to take out the loan.

In a competitive property market having pre-approval can help you save time when making an offer. Many sellers and real estate agents also look favourably on buyers with pre-approval as it shows you’re serious about the property.

While you’ll still need to confirm your employment and a few other details to progress to full approval, the difficult paperwork is already done. Pre-approval normally lasts for up to 90 days and you can apply to renew your pre-approval if you haven’t found a property in that time.

Find out more about the benefits of pre-approval.

Ready to apply

What’s Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI)?

If your deposit is less than 20% of the property’s value, most financial institutions will require Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI). LMI is taken out to protect the lender in case of default. It’s a one-off cost and is generally included in the total value of the loan.

What is subject to finance?

‘Subject to finance’ is a standard condition in home purchase contracts. It gives the buyer the ability to back out of the purchase and still get their deposit back if they can’t secure finance with their chosen lender.

The purchase contract is drawn up once you have made an offer on a property and your home loan application is underway. This is also where your solicitor or conveyancer comes in. They’ll explain the terms of the contract and act in your best interest.

What’s an offset account?

A mortgage offset account allows you to use the balance of a linked everyday account to “offset” (or reduce) the balance of your home loan. This in turn reduces the amount of interest you’re charged each month.

If you have some extra savings, adding these funds to an offset account can get your money working harder to help you pay off your home loan sooner.

See how an offset account works.

Fixed interest rate vs. variable interest rate loans

Fixed interest rate loans

  • Give you more certainty and make it easier to budget because you know exactly what your repayments will be for a set period (1, 2, 3 or 5 years).
  • Protect you against interest rate rises. However, if interest rates fall, you miss out on the savings.
  • If you decide to change banks, sell your home, or pay off your loan within the fixed period, you may be charged an early payout cost.
  • Some fixed rate loans let you make additional repayments up to a certain amount – which can help you pay your loan off sooner.

Variable interest rate loans

  • Usually give you more features and flexibility, such as the ability to make unlimited extra repayments, or the ability to pay off or move your loan without incurring an early payout cost (although you may pay a discharge fee).
  • Are subject to market conditions. If rates fall, it’s likely your variable rate will also fall, and your loan repayments will decrease.
  • Similarly, if rates rise, so might your repayments.
How to apply for a home loan?

Simply apply online, speak to one of our friendly Home Loan Specialists online or visit your nearest branch. You can learn more about the process and what you will need by listening to Episode 7 of our podcast, The Clever Way Home.

Listen to Episode 7: Applying for a loan now.

At settlement

How do I pay my deposit? 

Your deposit is withdrawn from your nominated bank account on settlement day, along with any other fees and costs associated with the purchase of your home. Your solicitor will confirm the total amount needed.

It’s a good idea to ensure the funds are in your account a few days in advance to avoid delays on settlement day. If you’re unsure of the process, your Home Loan Specialist can answer any questions.

What’s a pre-settlement inspection? 

A pre-settlement inspection allows you to check that the property is in the same condition as when you first signed the purchase contract. It takes place in the week leading up to settlement, usually with the agent or seller.

It’s a good idea to review your contract of sale beforehand to ensure any special conditions have been met before settlement day. This is also your chance to do a final check of the hot water service, oven, plumbing, air conditioning and locks are in good working order. Another thing to check is any significant damage to walls, windows, and floor coverings that wasn’t there at the time of the building and pest inspection. If there is damage, or something isn’t working, you can ask for it to be fixed before you move in.

If special conditions haven’t been met, or the property’s condition isn’t as expected, contact your solicitor or conveyancer straight away. They can sort out any problems on your behalf.

When can I pick up the keys? 

The keys can be picked up from the real estate agent or seller (if it’s a private sale) once settlement is complete. You may want to arrange the time and place to pick up your keys beforehand to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Do I need building & contents insurance? 

At a minimum, you’ll need to have a building insurance policy that begins on your settlement date. Building insurance is a condition of your home loan and it will also protect your investment in extreme events such as a fire.

If you’re buying an apartment or townhouse that’s part of a strata or body corporate, your building insurance will be included in your body corporate fees. In this case you’ll need to supply a copy of the certificate of insurance before settlement day. Your solicitor can supply more information on getting a copy of your certificate of insurance.

Contents insurance protects the possessions that are kept in your home but aren’t attached to the building, such as your furniture, electrical appliances, ovens and small but valuable items like jewellery. You may want to consider getting home and contents insurance to protect both your home and the things in it.

Need insurance? Find out more about home and contents insurance from Great Southern Bank.

How can I pay off my loan faster? 

There are many clever ways to pay off your home loan faster. One such way is by using our smart tool The Boost. Simply set an amount between $0.01 and $5 to automatically transfer to your home loan account every time you use your Great Southern Bank Debit Card.

Every little bit adds up, and the best part is you’ll be paying off your home loan faster without even realising it.

More ways to own your home sooner.


Home loan calculators

Discover how much you can borrow, estimate your upfront costs, or find out if you’re eligible for some savings on stamp duty in just a few clicks.

View all calculators

Borrowing power calculator
Upfront costs calculator
Stamp duty calculator

Steps to saving for a home

Clever ways to save for your home deposit faster.
Set up a savings account
Everyday Edge Account + Home Saver Account

This clever pair will get you saving smarter to build your home deposit faster.

Good savings habits
The Boost

Imagine buying a coffee for $4 and 50c goes from your Everyday Edge Account into your Home Saver Account. With The Boost, you save when you spend.

The Vault

The Vault deters you from making impulse purchases. Plus, you can still access your funds in an emergency.

A helping hand
First Home Guarantee

You could buy a new home with as little as 5% deposit, and avoid paying Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance.

Family Home Guarantee

Single parents with dependents could buy a new family home with as little as 2% deposit.

Speak to a Home Loan Specialist

Have a question? Our experienced Home Loan Specialists are here to help.

  • Available 6 days a week
  • Assistance with your home loan
  • You’ll have your own home loan specialist to guide you through the home buying process.
The Clever Way Home
A podcast series designed to help simplify the home buying process.
No Place Like Home
An in-depth look at the homebuying and homeownership journey.

Customer case studies

Nicole Shillinglaw, QLD

Purchased her 3-bedroom townhouse in Slacks Creek on the southside of Brisbane with the help of Great Southern Bank.

Andrew & Zac Cornell, VIC

Twin brothers Andrew and Zac Cornell were amongst the first homebuyers to take advantage of expanded eligibility.

Tom and Sarah, NSW

Newcastle parents Tom and Sarah used the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS), now known as the Home Guarantee Scheme, to break into the property market.

Did you know we’re customer-owned

That means no shareholders. Our profits go back into new products and clever ways to help you manage your money.

Our home loan have won awards, but our true passion lies in our purpose. Helping more Australians own their own home - and we’ve been doing so for over 75 years!

“Wayne was an absolute champ during the whole process! Always letting me know what I needed to do and all while answering all the dumb questions I had.”
Connect with a Home Loan Specialist
We are here to help.

Speak to one of our Home Loan Specialists via live online chat.

Fill out our online enquiry form and one of our Home Loan Specialists will get back to you to start the process.

Mon - Fri: 8:00am - 6:00pm (AEST)

Important Information

Please note that this is only intended as a general guide in relation to issues you may want to consider when buying your first home. It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all relevant issues and you should take into account your own particular circumstances, and obtain independent expert advice where needed, before proceeding. Rates and savings quoted are indicative only for illustrative purposes.

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Applying for pre-approval allows you to know the maximum amount you can borrow while you look for a property.

Pre-approval means that a lender has agreed to lend you an amount of money in-principle, but the loan hasn't been proceeded to full or final approval.

While pre-approval is not a fully approved loan it can help you narrow your search, negotiate, and make an offer with certainty and confidence.

How much would you like to borrow?
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The minimum amount you can borrow is $100,000
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First Home Guarantee
Family Home Guarantee
Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee

The Australian Government has introduced initiatives to support eligible Australians to build or purchase a new home sooner: the First Home Guarantee, Family Home Guarantee and Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee.

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