What is the average age of first home buyers?
The average age of first-home buyers, nationally, increased from 27 in the early 1990s to 29 in the early 2000s. As at December 2017, the typical first-timer was 31. That's based on figures provided to Money by ING, using its own lending records and broader industry data.
What is the average cost of a first house? 
Approximately $300,000-$400,000. Thus our $300,000 first-time home buyer should sock away about $6,000-$7,500 to cover the back end of their buying experience. Tallying the recommended savings so far, the amount comes to $36,000-$37,500. And don't leave out one all-important consideration: the home buyer's buffer.
Is it getting easier/harder for first home buyers?
An analysis of house price and household income by a former Reserve Bank economist reveals that the gap between the two has never been higher.
Callam Pickering, the managing director and chief economist at CP Economics, looked at gross disposable income per household, adjusted to remove rental income to reflect the circumstances of the typical first homebuyer — a couple with combined annual earnings of $107,000.
He drew up a graph showing the house price-to-income ratio in the Australian property market, and the result was seriously depressing.
The ratio, which represents the gap between income and house prices, is the highest it’s ever been.
What are the current grants available to first home buyers?
The First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) scheme was introduced on 1 July 2000 to offset the effect of the GST on home ownership. It is a national scheme funded by the states and territories and administered under their own legislation.
Under the scheme, a one-off grant is payable to first home owners that satisfy all the eligibility criteria.
The First Home Loan Deposit Scheme begins on 1 January 2020. Its an incentive that allows first home buyers to purchase a property with as little as a five per cent deposit and without the need to take out lenders mortgage insurance (LMI). The government says this could save first home buyers as much as $10,000. Schemes like this help create initiative for first home buyers to get their first property and enter the real estate market in Australia, an arguably, difficult market to enter in 2020.
Does it vary from state to state?
What are the extra costs when buying a first home? 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it depends on the value of your property and where it’s located.
For example, if you want to buy a home in Queensland that’s valued at $500,000, you can reasonably expect to pay the following:
Property value: $500,000
Conveyancing and legal fees: $1800
Stamp duty: $0 for first-home buyers, $8750 for others
Building and pest inspection (combined): $600
Mortgage registration fee: $187
Transfer fee ($35 for every $10,000 over $180,000): $1120
Loan application fee: $500 – $600
Mortgage insurance: $8000
Council and utility rates: roughly $500 (per quarter)
Total costs = $512,707 – $521,557
What is the process for a first home loan?
Step 1: Know your options and the process
Think about the next 5-10 years. Is home ownership in the picture? Maybe you want to buy shares, travel or even get an investment property while you rent (also known as ‘rentvesting’).
Talking to friends and family who’ve already bought property can give you an idea of what’s involved. You’ve probably got your eye on the property market and social media too. Talking to an expert like a Home Finance Manager or Broker can also help you understand your options and answer any questions about the home buying process.
But ultimately, it comes down to what’s right for you and your future goals. Working out what’s important to you can help you cut through the noise and make a more confident decision.
Step 2: Organise your finances and start saving
Now’s the time to get real about your financial situation. Look at your bank e-statements or online banking to see where you’re spending and where you can save.
Start paying off your credit cards, store cards and personal loans. Got multiple debts? Consolidating them could make them easier to manage.
Also check your credit score – it’s something lenders look at when you apply for a home loan. You can then take steps to build a healthy credit report if you need to.
To kick-start your savings, roughly estimate how much you’ll need for a deposit and other home buying costs (like stamp duty).
Generally, a deposit of 20% of the property value is ideal, but not always needed. In some cases, you may only need 5%. Keep in mind that if it’s less than 20% or you’re attempting to pay the minimum deposit or have no deposit, you’ll usually need to pay Lenders’ Mortgage Insurance (LMI). 
Step 3: Understand the different property types
Different property types come with different considerations depending on your goals and financial situation. For instance, are you looking for your forever home or one to get you on the property ladder? A house or an apartment? A fixer-upper or one that’s brand new? Perhaps you’d like to build a home. Our handy checklist can help you weigh up the pros and cons and work out what property type might be right for you.
Also consider whether you need to be near transport, schools or other amenities. To get a feel for certain suburbs and property types, look at real estate websites, talk to real estate agents and go to home opens.
Step 4: Crunch the numbers and explore home loan types
Now you have a better idea of what property types suit you, you can more accurately work out how much you’ll need for a deposit and other upfront home buying costs.
This can motivate you, as you’ll have a firmer figure to work towards. Online calculators, lenders and Brokers can also give you an idea of how much you could borrow and your potential home loan repayments.
It can also pay to check your eligibility for financial help like stamp duty exemptions or other government concessions, including the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) and First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme. If you’re eligible, it could mean you don’t need to save as much.
With more ‘real’ figures, you might rethink your property type, adjust your budget or consider alternative ways to buy a home (like getting a home loan guarantor, buying with friends or buying an investment property in a cheaper area while you continue to rent).
It’s also smart to brush up on the home loan lingo and understand how different home loan features might suit you (like fixed and variable rates, offset accounts and redraw facilities). Check out comparison sites and meet with lenders or Brokers – they can help you find the right home loan.
Step 5: Get pre-approved finance and look for a property
Before you start house hunting, it’s smart to get pre-approved finance. Also known as conditional approval, it’s a letter from your lender that tells you how much they’re likely to let you borrow based on your financial situation, objectives and needs.
Pre-approved finance gives you a clear idea of what you can afford and puts you in a strong position when you make an offer on a home. Having conditional approval is also a requirement to be able to bid at some auctions.
When looking for a property you love, talk to real estate agents, go to home opens and get free property reports from our Home Finance Managers. They’ll show you the median price for units and houses in the area – including a ballpark price range for the property you want.
Step 6: Make an offer and apply for full loan approval
Your pre-approved finance, coupled with your knowledge of the area and property, come in handy when working out how much to offer on a property.
When you make an offer through a private sale, you usually sign a contract ‘subject to finance’, property inspections and timings – including a settlement date. Meet with the sales agent to help you prepare a formal written offer.
Bidding at auction? Carry out an inspection beforehand and talk to the agent about your obligations if you’re the highest bidder. Winning bids lock the buyer into the sale, and a 10% deposit is usually required upfront, so it’s important to determine your ‘like to pay’ and ‘have to pay’ price first and stick to it during the auction.
Offer accepted? Carry out the necessary property and pest inspections, and apply for full loan approval with your lender.
Your lender will assess your application and order a property valuation. This can take a week or two, depending on your situation and the settlement period.
Step 7: Prepare for settlement
Property settlement is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from seller to buyer. To put it in more exciting terms, it’s when you become the new home owner and pick up the keys.
Get in touch with a settlement agent (also known as a conveyancer) to help you prepare. Ask your real estate agent to recommend one, and get a few quotes from reputable companies. Make sure they’re in writing and outline all fees and charges, including any government costs.
In the lead up to settlement, you’ll need to apply for any applicable grants or concessions, prepare the settlement documents with your settlement agent or solicitor, and arrange home insurance.
Your lender will send you the contract documents. Send them back with your building insurance documents. The contracts are then verified and settlement booked. If you’ve applied for a home loan with Bankwest, you can use our Home Loan Application Tracker to get updates on your application milestones along the way.
About a week before settlement, you’ll have a settlement inspection to make sure the property’s as you expect. On settlement day, you’ll pick up the keys and become the proud owner of a new home.
What is the process of applying for first homeowner grants?
1. Find an expert in the field
Your first step in the home loan process is talking to a home loan expert.
Getting in touch with your local Aussie Broker and setting up an appointment is a key step start your journey! For nearly 30 years, Aussie has helped over a million Australians find the home loan that suits them, so they can probably help you too.
2. Your home loan appointment 
It’s a good idea to come to your appointment equipped with the right paperwork. This paperwork will help your broker understand your current financial position and determine how they can help you. This paperwork should include:
recent bank statements, pay slips and group certificates that provide evidence of your income, spending and your saving history
details of your current assets and liabilities including any personal loans, investments, credit card debts, car repayments and so on
a summary of your usual household and living expenses
personal ID such as birth certificate, driver’s licence, current passport or citizenship certificate
If you don’t have this information, or if you’re self-employed, there may be some additional paperwork required for your application.
Your broker will take the time to understand your situation, present you with options, then help you choose the right loan for your unique situation.
3. Submitting your application
Once you’ve chosen the loan that suits your needs and are ready to begin the application process, your broker can guide you through the home loan application and paperwork. 
4. Getting conditional approval
It may take up to five days before you hear back from the lender as to whether your application is conditionally approved. If the lender approves your application, you will receive ‘conditional approval’, also known as pre-approval. The lender isn’t committing to anything yet, but they are cautiously saying that they may be able to approve your home loan if you meet certain requirements. 
If you haven’t yet found the right property, then ‘pre-approval could be good to have, as it gives you time to continue your property search while working on home loan application with your broker.  It’s important to note that some lenders issue pre-approval that can last up to three months.
If you’ve already found the property you’re hoping to buy, your broker can arrange a valuation of the property with your lender. This process can take up to 5 days, depending on a few factors including the availability of the valuer and how quickly the seller or agent can provide access to the property.
5. Getting unconditional approval
Once you’ve received unconditional approval from the lender, have found your dream home and you’ve reached an agreement with the seller- you’re now ready to sign and exchange contracts. This process is handled by your appointed legal representative — a certified conveyancer or solicitor.
Your Aussie Broker will walk you through the process of getting your final approval from the lender, then guide you on the details required for the next few steps.
6. Review your loan documents
When your loan documents arrive, your lender will send you a formal letter of offer. It’s important that your legal representative reviews these loan documents. Once again, your broker will guide you through this process,
7. Sign your loan documents
Once you and your legal representative are happy with the loan documents, it’s time to sign on the dotted line and return them to your broker.
8. Confirmation of settlement
Your conveyancer or solicitor will have agreed to a date for settlement with the seller’s legal representative when contracts were exchanged. This is usually between 30 and 90 days after signing the Contract of Sale, but varies between each state.
9. Finalise transactions
Your Aussie Broker can guide you through finalising  transactions and setting up direct debits to ensure the right accounts are in place and all payments are processed correctly. When the funds have been transferred according to your instructions, settlement is complete!
10. Loan and property are settled
Congratulations—you’re home in your home! 
There may have been a few head scratches and sleepless nights along the way, but with the help of your Aussie Broker, you’ve been able to understand what’s happening and what’s next at every step of the journey to home ownership.
What else do you need to consider in regards to your first home?
When buying a house location is perhaps the most important thing to consider. A great location will remain an asset no matter how the real estate market fluctuates in future. You can make an ugly house attractive but you can’t make a bad location great, however properties in good location will remain a profitable investment. It is also better to find a place near your work which will save you time and transportation cost.
When you are scouting for the location, you should also inspect the neighborhood. Find out whether the neighborhood is family friendly or not. Before you get too involved in the process of buying the house, check out the neighborhood at different times of the day and night. And if possible, try to meet some of the neighbors to find more information about facilities and people living around in the area. Whether you are a family oriented person or not, you don’t want live around people who are bad influences or are involved in illegal things. It is important to look for a house with friendly neighbors and a good residential feel.
Schools and Colleges
Every parent wants their kids to attend good school and college. Buying a house in close proximity to a good school or college not only makes your life easy, but it will have better potential for capital growth. Even though the house may cost a bit more in such an area, you can rest assured the resale value will be much more. In addition, the house near a school or college rents quickly and stays rented.
When buying a house, a crucial factor to consider is accessibility of basic infrastructures in the area. Before buying a house, find out if there are simple but must have infrastructures available or not.
Is the location well- connected by roadway or train networks?
Is there sufficient water supply in the area?
Is amenities such as street lighting, telephone and internet connectivity, and recreational parks are easily available?
Check out the crime rate in the neighborhood, and a lot of this information is available online. Websites like MylocalCrime.com can provide full information on recent crimes reported in the vicinity of the house you are considering. Get a feel for the neighbors, talk to the people in the neighborhood and also consider the looks you get from the neighborhood. Living in a crime-filled neighborhood is not worth your investment. It will also be harder for you to find quality renters to live there.
House inspection
A house inspection is a must. Clever real estate agents make sure to stage the property to look its best when you view them. You have to check its maintenance, repairs and renovations in detail before signing on the dotted line. The total expense to fix cracks, and renovation works that you may want to do on the house must be calculated and considered before deciding to buy the house as it can significantly increase the purchase price.
Green open space
It’s natural to have desire for green open spaces for a homeowner. It’s also an important factor to consider when buying a house. Before making the purchase stroll around the locale to see its surroundings, trees, other homes and landscape. The green and open environment around the house can greatly affect its desirability, for you and future buyers. Prioritise location with beautiful views and great environment for the kids to grow up in. Similarly, topography is also important as the house on the highest point in the area is good for drainage and usually has a good view.
Will your first home require renovations?
Your first home should meet both your practical and psychological needs and in order to accomplish that, you might need to renovate, buy further afield or perhaps build from scratch.
What is required for permits and planning?
Organising permits and getting them approved may feel like a tedious process, but it’s simply part of the renovation process. In fact, any work that doesn’t meet building regulations or receive council approval where necessary can be regarded as illegal –it can also make it extremely hard to sell your home if it doesn’t adhere to strict building codes – so it’s worth following official guidelines.
Before you start sourcing materials and spending your weekends at Bunnings, you’ll need to find out from your local council if you need to obtain:
A planning permit
This legal document gives permission for the land to be used or developed for a particular purpose, such as a home extension.
To obtain a planning permit you, or your builder must make an application to your local council. An approved planning permit does not green light your building permit; it’s a separate application however it can be submitted at the same time.
A building permit
A building permit ensures the safety, health and structural stability of a building – it’s your licence to build.
A building permit shows your approved plans and specifications comply with building regulations – you’ve probably seen them tied to fences outside residential homes or even big construction sites.
External renovations need permits, too
It’s not just big renovations that require permits and permission. Some external additions and upgrades may also require the council tick of approval:
Garages and carports
Decks and verandas
Retaining walls
Check your state
Across Australia, the requirements for building plans and permits vary, even between different council (local government) areas.
Check out the links below to understand the plans and permits needed in your state or territory. Remember to ask your council about local rules and speak with your builder to ensure the works you undertake comply with government guidelines.
Queensland – QLD Building and Construction Commission
New South Wales – NSW Planning and Environment Planning Portal
Victoria – Consumer Affairs Victoria
Tasmania – Department of Justice
South Australia – South Australian Government
Western Australia – Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Northern Territory – Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment 
Taking the time to ensure your renovations comply with various planning and permit requirements can add value to your property. And if you decide to sell, buyers can also be confident your renovations tick all the right boxes. With your permits and planning in check, it’s time to start building your renovation budget and browsing your new dream fixtures and fittings.
If you’re building a new home, what do you need to know?
1. Get your plan in place
Planning is the most important part of the construction process.
Make sure you meticulously plan the details of your house. What direction will it face on the lot? What will the layout and flow of the rooms be? What kind of lighting will you use, and how many power points will you install (tip: you always need more than you think)?
2. Budget more than you expect
No matter how much you think the building process is likely to cost, it’s likely to cost more. There could be any number of items that aren’t included in the estimate your builder gives you. For instance, your builder is unlikely to include costs such as electrical and gas metres, NBN hookups or window coverings. Items such as landscaping and outdoor concreting, fences and gates, decking and letterboxes might also not be included on the estimate.
These are known as finishing costs, and could run anywhere from 15-25% of your budget. You’ll also need to take into account site costs, which are the costs associated with preparing your site for construction, and you may also have to pay for planning application fees.
3. Pick the right builder
This might be one of the most important decisions you make in the home building process. Whichever builder you choose, you’re going to be working with them for many, many months. It’s important to get the choice right at the outset to head off problems down the road.
4. Understand your agreement
Carefully read through the contract with your builder to make sure you understand its contents. Make sure you’re not taken by surprise by what the construction costs cover and what they don’t cover.
Make sure includes a cooling off period, and that it specifies a timeframe for construction that suits your needs. Check to see that it includes detailed plans, warranty and insurance information. Also pay close attention to the payment schedule.
Finally, it’s wise to have a solicitor look over the contract before you sign. Cross out any blank spaces, and make sure any variations to the contract are well documented and mutually agreed upon.
5. Know what you’re entitled to
If you’re building your first home, you could be entitled to a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG), dependent on the state or territory in which you live. This could substantially offset the cost of your home. To find out if you might be eligible, read our First Home Owner Grant guide.
Likewise, depending on your state or territory, you might be eligible for stamp duty concessions on the purchase of your building lot.
6. Get your financing in order
When you’re building a property, you’ll need a construction home loan to finance the process. A construction home loan is structured differently than a regular home loan in that the lender won’t release all the funds at once.
Instead, the lender will decide how much you need for the project, and will then release the funds in periodic payments to your builder. These periodic payments are known as draws. They’ll be paid out at the completion of each individual stage of your construction.
7. Communicate constantly
Throughout the process, communicate often with your builder and tradesmen. Get regular updates on the progress of construction, and check in yourself. It’s a good idea to take pictures of the progress on a regular basis so you can document any problem areas.
8. Look for ways to save
Building a home is going to be an expensive process, and as we mentioned above, it’s likely you’ll end up paying more than you anticipated. That being said, there are ways you can save money. Shop around for the best prices on fittings and fixtures, and on the materials your builder will use or even prefab houses with companies such as Metricon. Get multiple quotes for any item needed during the construction process.
9. Get an independent inspector
Each stage of your construction should be inspected by an independent consultant. This will help you rest easy knowing that all the building materials and practices used in constructing your home meet all the necessary codes and regulations.
Tips to consider:
1.You don't necessarily need a 20 per cent deposit
The 20 per cent deposit is ideal.
The prospect of saving a large deposit — say $100,000 for a $500,000 property — can be daunting but lenders do provide mortgages to buyers who have saved less than one-fifth of the purchase price.
But you will have to pay for it.
Buyers with less than 20 per cent of the purchase price will often be required to pay lenders mortgage insurance (LMI) which protects the credit provider in the case the borrower cannot pay.
It can be added to your loan, but the lender can also charge you a higher interest rate.
2. Banks will lend you a scary amount of money
Having visited a mortgage broker early in the research phase, it became apparent some institutions would have loaned double what my partner and I could afford to repay.
The broker entered our earnings, expenses and a modest deposit amount in a program, which returned the different amounts institutions were willing to lend us.
Some were offering to lend us well over $1 million, with repayments that would have been unachievable.
It could be easy to fall into a trap where you borrow too much to buy a dream home, and then struggle to make the repayments.
3. There are a range of costs that come with buying a property
Buying a house is not just a matter of saving up a deposit and then purchasing a house.
There are a range of other costs including stamp duty, transfer fees, government fees, charges for building and pest reports, LMI and conveyancing and solicitor's fees that can add up to thousands of dollars.
These all chip into the deposit you have saved and reduce the amount you actually can put into the purchase.
4. Pre-approval is no guarantee of getting a loan
Many lenders offer a pre-approval service where they will weigh up your income, expenditure and amount of personal debt against your deposit to see if you qualify for a loan.
It gives you confidence to go ahead and make offers on properties within your budget, but it is no silver bullet.
The full loan approval only comes after the lender receives a signed contract, where they investigate and see if the property is a worthwhile investment.
5. You need to take out insurance the day you sign the contract
After agreeing to a price with the seller, there is still a settlement period before the buyer can actually move in.
Even though it may be 30 days before you pick up the keys, you need to take out insurance on the property in the interim to protect against any damages.
The legal liability for damages varies between the states and territories, but some lenders will insist that buyers cover themselves before settlement.
It is probably wise to take the advice of your solicitor or conveyancer to learn of your position.