Some more tips:
1. Don't F people around and don't let them F you around. For example if you agree on a price don't try and haggle with small amounts after a building inspection report (an old tactic used by heaps of people). Get the report first and use it to negotiate the price so everyone has a set amount firmly agreed upon. Reason is if they get pissed off they will fill the drains with dirt or have some way of making you pay. Also if a vendor attempts to gazump you just walk away no matter how much you love the place. You will find those types always have something else well hidden that will cost you later anyway. Big purchases involve a lot of karma.
2. There is more to having a big house to impress everyone and leave yourself very short of cash. It takes a long time to pay a place off so leave plenty of room and money for things that can go wrong and more importantly for still enjoying life. Nothing worse than having the best place and being miserable.
3. Banks will lend you any amount so long as they believe they can recover it through guarantors or other assets, or by selling the house you buy. Budget carefully so you know what you can really afford and not believe what the banks say you should borrow. I can't tell you how many times i have been offered more money than I could afford to repay.
4. Watch the structure of the loan repayment carefully. They lend you money and you don't start paying the first mortgage payment until some time later but the interest accrues from the day the money is advanced. I will never forget getting my first annual statement to discover after a year of payments I owed them more than I borrowed because of this.
5. Don't believe a single word printed in sales literature or comments made by a real estate agent. Check or get your solicitor to check everything thoroughly. Land size, easements, covenants, future zoning, neighbour developments all get politely mistorted during a sales campaign.
6. Make an allowance of up to 10% to personalise a place so that you are happy living there. If it is brand new it won't matter much, but if not be prepared for lots of cash to go making certain rooms inhabitable (anything with plumbing, electrics or landscaping costs plenty). If moving from a smaller place to a bigger one you will spend buckets on extra furniture.
7. If you have the finance and all the checks can be done quickly think of paying early and get a price discount. On 350k a vendor will lose 2k in 5 weeks.
Hope this helps. Fluffy's tips are spot on.
My apologies for not responding to you I missed your post somehow. After reading it thoroughly I wanted to write a response as the advice you have given is priceless.
In response to your first point, we went through this the other day. We made an offer, agent says we have an offer better than that. I upped the offer (keeping in mind we do have an absloute limit that we are sticking to) and the agent said let me talk to the vendor. He came back and said another $2.5K will do it, even though it was still in our range I declined, because he was just playing games and I wasnt into it. We missed out on a property that we liked, but I refuse to get sucked in by a glorified used car salesman.
2. Yeah we are looking for places that are ok to move straight into without any URGENT work needing to be done, just things that we can do when we have time and money to do so.
3. Tell me about it, I have based our purchase price on what WE can afford to borrow, not what the lenders say we can. We have been told we could borrow up to $550K!!!! which is just way beyond us. When we first started out I said to my partner, I dont want to give up the things I do now just to buy a house. I still want to be able to go out to dinner and have a bet on the weekends etc etc. So what I did was looked at what we are saving now (while we are still spending excessively) and have based our borrowing amount on those savings alone. So on top of our savings (which will become our loan repayments), we have the rent we are paying now + if we need to cut back on spending a little we can). One thing I do not want to do is sell myself short.
5. I have a friend who specialises in conveyancing, needless to say he will be checking everything.
6. As far as personalising the place goes we have alllowed for that as well. My partner has a commission rate factored into her contract at work and its been decided that whatever commission she earns will go towards either paying the loan off quicker or improving the place.
I know what you and Jatz are saying. Tez and I have been friends for a long time and I trust her, thats all you can do really. Plus if she ever screwed me over to that extent I would just have her knee capped. (kidding)
Honestly though guys thanks for all the advice. I have taken on a lot of info, especially from Tookey, plus Rhino and MB and everyone else. This is a big step for us and its all very exciting. Cant wait to have my first BBQ and house warming!!!