Bessie Hassan | Money Expert at finder.com.au
Whether you’re a homebuyer or an investor, you will wonder whether or not it’s the right time to enter the market. While you can research the demographics, historical price growth trends or the supply and demand of property in different areas, the best way to decide whether it’s a good time to buy a property is to review your personal situation.
While many buyers may be lured by historic low interest rates – currently we are seeing variable home loan rates as low as 3.63%, it’s essential that you reflect on your personal and financial situation to work out if you should take the plunge.
Lifestyle factors such as your job security and number of dependents as well as your financial situation can be telling when it comes to understanding your readiness to buy real estate.
Here are some factors to consider.
- Job security. When you apply for finance, most lenders prefer that you’ve been in your current job for at least 12 months. Think about where you are in terms of your career path, how stable your job is, and whether your income is sufficient to service mortgage repayments and other costs of purchasing and owning property. If your employment is secure, then you may be ready to buy. On the other hand, if you’re a low-income earner or you only work on a part-time basis, it may not be a good time for you to buy.
- If you have kids or you’re planning to settle down and have kids, think about how this will influence your ability to buy property. The number of dependents you have can influence your borrowing capacity. Generally, each dependent can lower the amount you can borrow by around $50,000. Most lenders will ask you to factor in the cost of childcare and school fees when listing your day-to-day expenses. Be honest with yourself and your lender when discussing your future lifestyle plans.
- Travel plans. Review any future trips that you have and consider how this will impact your finances. Frequent overseas trips can put you into further debt which may hinder you capacity to repay a mortgage. If you have several overseas trips planned and you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to afford your repayments, then you may not be ready to purchase property.
- One of the biggest factors to consider when buying property is knowing how much you can afford to borrow. Use a repayment calculator to get an estimate and remember you should come up with at least a 20% deposit to avoid paying lender’s mortgage insurance (LMI).
- Financial clean up. To help you decide if you’re ready to buy property, you should reflect on your financial situation and conduct a financial health check. If you have a large amount of personal debt, such as personal loans or credit cards, you may want to take steps to reduce this. For instance, to minimise debt you can leverage interest-free periods by using a 0% balance transfer credit card. Or if you’re struggling to make repayments on your mobile phone plan, for example, contact your provider to see if they can revise your payment plan.
- A crucial part of knowing if it’s a good time for you to buy is to budget the costs of buying and holding a property. There are several upfront fees you’ll need to budget for such as stamp duty, mortgage application fee and building inspections, however you’ll also need enough savings to cover ongoing costs such as repairs and maintenance and council fees.
No matter what your objective is for buying property, remember that you shouldn’t try to time the market. Instead, you should carefully review your personal and financial situation to decide whether or not you’re ready to buy.
Bessie Hassan is the Money Expert at finder.com.au, one of Australia’s largest financial comparison websites.