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TIMING IS EVERYTHING: 6 SIGNS YOU’RE READY TO BUY A FIRST HOME

By Emma Smith

In the three minutes it’ll take you to read this article, Australians will spend roughly $3.5 million, according to Moneysmart. Households in our country spend over $640 billion a year, including $1.1 billion on tea and coffee, $800 million on grooming our pets, and $78.4 billion on transport.

Unsurprisingly though, our biggest cost by far is housing. Owning property is still the dream of countless Australians, and despite rising property prices it’s very much possible if you’re truly ready for it.

Are you?

1. YOUR DEBT’S SHRINKING OR GONE

On average, Australian households owe an equivalent of 211 per cent of their disposable income, the fifth highest of any country in the world, according to OECD research. Unfortunately, securing a mortgage and making repayments is difficult if you’ve already maxed out your credit cards.

On the other hand, if you’re debt free it may be a sign that you’re ready to buy a home. We often rack up debt in our younger years as we pay for university, learn to manage our money and move out of home for the first time. There’s nothing wrong with that, but getting your money under control and paying those debts is a sign of maturity, and may mean you’re ready to tackle a mortgage.

2. YOU’RE IN A STEADY JOB 

When you have a mortgage you have to make repayments every fortnight or month without fail. For that reason walking out on your job isn’t an option. Neither is blowing all your money on pool villas and mojitos during an impromptu trip to Bali to celebrate that walk out.

If you’re in steady, reliable employment, however, you could be ready to buy a home. If you know with relative certainty that your paycheck will keep coming in, then mortgage repayments shouldn’t be a problem, and it’s possible that lenders will be happy financing your purchase.

3. YOU’VE GOT SAVINGS AND AN EMERGENCY FUND

If your home needs some work done in future and you don’t have money set aside, things could get awkward fast. Being able to deal with these unexpected costs is part of being a homeowner, and means that having savings and an emergency fund is essential.

If your emergency fund is often spent on dumpling feasts and plane tickets you might not be ready. However, if you’ve got a solid savings account, and an emergency fund that you regularly top up (and rarely dip into) you may just have the financial nous to handle a mortgage.

4. YOU PLAN ON STICKING AROUND FOR A WHILE

Almost 10 million Australians left the country to travel in 2016, according to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We’re a nomadic bunch, and no matter where you are in the world there’s always a good chance you’ll run into another Aussie.

As admirable as our adventurous tendencies are they don’t go hand in hand with mortgage repayments. There’s no reason you can’t travel after you buy a home, however year-long overseas adventures and living off the smell of an oily rag in Southeast Asia will be out of the question for a while.

If you feel ready to settle down for the foreseeable future, buying a home could be the perfect new adventure for you.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when mum’s place doesn’t cut it anymore.

5. YOUR CAREER’S ON THE UP (AND YOU LOVE IT)

Do you love your work? Are you building a career, and are you good at what you do?

If you answered yes, this is a sign that you could handle a mortgage. That’s because having to make repayments on a regular basis means becoming unemployed while you job search or retrain may not be an option. If you love what you do and you’re good at it this won’t be a problem.

6. MUM’S PLACE AND SHARE-HOUSES ARE STARTING TO FEEL SMALL

There comes a time in everyone’s life when mum’s place doesn’t cut it anymore. As much as you may love Coronation Street reruns, buying a home and moving on is a natural part of growing up. Later in life there also comes a time when shared houses aren’t ideal. Perhaps you’re in a serious relationship, have a baby on the way, or maybe you just want more space.

Whatever the reason, if your current living arrangement isn’t right for you, now could be the best time to buy a home. Speak to local real estate agents and mortgage brokers to get started, and to make sure your decision is the right one.

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