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First Home Buyer’s Guide

Oct 9, 2020 | First Home Buyer, Home Loan Information & Tips, News, Research, Resources, Self-employed Loans
Start your home buying journey with all the facts you need.

If you’re looking for clear, straightforward information about how to buy your first home, you’ve come to the right place. Here you’ll find all the steps and costs involved in getting your foot in the property door, making the process of planning, budgeting and decision making so much simpler without the stress of surprises along the way. Discover why it’s important to get your first home loan approved before you start the search for your dream home, and how to apply for a cash boost with the First Home Owner’s Grant or the Home Builder’s Grant.

Congratulations on taking the first exciting steps towards buying your first home.

1. How do I get started buying my first home?

The most important thing to do, before you start house hunting, is work out exactly how much you have to spend and how much you can afford to borrow. This means taking a good look at your total income as well as all your financial commitments and savings. You’ll need to have your finances approved before you can make an offer on your first home, so it also means getting pre-approval on your home loan.

2. How much can I borrow for my first home loan?

Mortgageport’s borrowing power calculator gives you a guide to how much you can borrow. When you’re ready to chat with us, we’ll help you work this out in more detail. But remember, no matter how much you are able to borrow, it’s important to not over-commit yourself financially. You need to consider your present and likely future income, and how stable it will be over time. You also need to think about how you would deal with higher interest rates and repayments, being aware that Australia’s current interest rates are still quite low. To make first home ownership enjoyable, you have to make it affordable. Find out what you can borrow with our handy calculator.

Calculate your borrowing power

3. What are all the costs of buying my first home?

It’s important to know up-front all the costs of buying your first home, apart from the actual house price and loan repayments. These costs will vary depending on the price of your property and size of your home loan and can add up to several thousands of dollars. A sensible guide to keep in mind is around 5% of the property value. These additional costs include:

  • Legal fees
  • Loan establishment charges
  • Pest inspections
  • Building inspections
  • Moving expenses
  • Stamp duty (or ‘transfer” duty)

Most Australian States have Stamp Duty exemptions for first home buyers, which is good news because it usually the biggest purchasing cost. Find out if you’re exempt from paying Stamp Duty on your first home, or how much you might need to pay, with our handy calculator.

Calculate your Stamp Duty

4. How do I get pre-approval on my first home loan?

Make your journey to finding – and securing – your dream home quicker and easier by having your loan pre-approved before you even start home hunting.

  • Pre-approval means you can search for a home with the confidence of knowing you can borrow up to a certain amount, and you can act quickly to win a sale if you need to.
  • Loan pre-approval also gives you great comfort and assurance if you intend to buy at auction, where you are unequivocally committed to the sale and need to pay a 10% deposit on the day if you’re the successful bidder.
  • Mortgageport can easily arrange loan pre-approval, and it costs you no extra.

Find out more about getting a great start in property with your first home loan pre-approved by Mortgageport.

5. What is the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG)?

The NSW Government provides the First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) as financial assistance for first home buyers in NSW. The First Home Owner Grant currently gives first home buyer a lump sum benefit of $10,000:

  • It can be used for towards your deposit or paying relevant expenses such as pest and building reports
  • The $10,000 grant is payable to all first home buyers where the home being purchased or built has a total value less than $650,000
  • The grant applies to residential dwellings only and does not apply to vacant land
  • In NSW the FHOG is funded by the state government and administered by the Office of State Revenue. It is not subject to income or asset tests, however proof of identity and place of residence conditions are required

6. What is the First Home Plus Scheme?

The NSW First Home Plus Scheme (FHPS) provides exemptions or concessions on Stamp Duty for eligible first home buyers, including vacant land on which you intend to build your first home:

  • Stamp Duty exemptions for homes valued up to $500,000
  • Stamp Duty concessions for homes valued between $500,000 and $600,000
  • Stamp Duty exemptions for a vacant block of residential land to build your home
  • Stamp Duty concessions for vacant land valued between $300,000 and $450,000

The FHPS offers stamp duty exemptions of up to $17,900, depending on the value of the property. To read more about the FHPS, please visit the NSW Office of State Revenue website.

7. What is the Home Builders Bonus?

The NSW Home Builders Bonus (HBB) has been in place since July 2010 to stimulate the construction of new homes in NSW. The provides further concessions on Stamp (transfer) Duty, complementing and extending the Stamp Duty concessions provided by the First Home Plus Scheme:

  • Stamp duty will no longer apply on purchases of new homes for less than $600,000 purchased ‘off the plan’.
  • Stamp duty will be cut by 25% on homes worth up to $600,000 that are bought during construction or at completion, which equates to a saving of $5,623.
  • Stamp duty will be exempt for people over 65 who buy a newly constructed home worth up to $600,000. This exemption will only apply to people intending to use their new home as their principal place of residence.

As a NSW first home buyer you can save up to a maximum of $22,490 under the Home Builders Bonus. These concessions initially applied until 2012, and have been extended.

Stay up to date with Government schemes on offer, as they can change from time to time.  Visit NSW Office of State Revenue website for more information.

8. Which First Home Lender should I talk to?

There are hundreds of home loan products available, and lots of first home lenders to choose from. We suggest you talk to Mortgageport, because we always guide you to the best first home buyers loan for your personal situation:

  • Mortgageport has access to most of the home loan products available, provided by many of Australia’s major banks
  • We take the time and effort to really get to know you and your needs, so we know which home loan is right for you
  • Because things change over time – personal circumstances, interest rates, home loan products, the economy – we review your home loan every two years to ensure you always have the best home loan available.

Exclusive Loan MATCH System by Mortgageport

Everyone’s different, and your needs and circumstances will differ from other first home buyers. We take you through our unique MATCH selection system, a 6-step methodology to analyse your situation, which gives us thorough understanding of your needs. This enables our consultants to confidently recommend loan options that are most appropriate to you. And because lenders pay us, our mortgage broking service is provided free of charge  – you pay nothing.

Find out more about options for your first home loan  or call now 1800 100 747 to speak to a Mortageport Loans Consultant.

From your first meeting with us, right through to taking possession of your first home, Mortgageport supports you at every step to make your first home ownership as easy, manageable and rewarding as can be.


We explain all the fine print and eligibility criteria, and help you apply for grants and concessions.

Call 1800 100 747 now to talk to a Mortgageport Loans Consultant for help with Government financial assistance.

Don’t just take our word for it
Jesse, Rozelle, NSW
My partner and I connected with Mortgageport after being dissatisfied with what other brokers were offering. Clint said he could do much better for us and he delivered! It didn't matter that we had some financial hurdles to overcome, Mortgageport looked at us as people and understood what we needed. Very happy to recommend Clint and the team to anyone looking for a better deal.
Simone, Caloundra, QLD
As a first home buyer in an extremely difficult and high demand market, I could have easily been overwhelmed with the process of buying. Julianne Walsh was introduced to me initially when I was not 100% financially ready to purchase. She provided advice on what I needed to achieve and made suggestions on how I could personally reach these goals, in order to be in a better financial position. Over the course of 11 months while I focused on these goals, Julianne would reach out to me every few months to see how I was going and would provide me with the words to motivate me to keep saving. To not be forgotten in a very busy environment was refreshing, I wasn’t just a number! Whilst I navigated my way through purchasing my soon to be home, Julianne was always only a phone call away. As a first time buyer you have questions that you might feel embarrassed to ask, not with Julianne. Her level of communication, efficiency and commitment constantly exceeded my expectations, not to mention her kind and patient personality. Thank you Julianne for helping me achieve my goals!
Ryan, Neutral Bay, NSW
I would like to highly commend and recognize Christian for his exceptional work regarding my recent home loan. With my particular loan, there were many complications and obstacles that arose that were out of his control and Christian managed the process professionally and ensured that I was well informed throughout to a level that I am sure is above and beyond most standard loans. We settled on time and achieved a great result all round. I wanted to send this to you and thank him. I will be recommending him to anyone I know who is looking for a home loan or to refinance and would be happy to provide a reference or quote in any marketing material. Thank you again, Christian, you've done an incredible job!
Adrian, Gold Coast, QLD
Such a great team and very knowledgeable. We were recommended to use them by a friend and honestly I couldn't think of a way to make the process better or smoother. Very very helpful and understanding, also very easy to talk to. I would absolutely recommend them. Special shout out to Clint.
John Paul, Boondall, QLD
Julianne came highly recommended from a friend who used her services many times before. Her abundance of knowledge, ability to understand my situation and approachable nature took all the stress away and allowed me to continue on with my busy work schedule with very little interruptions. She was contactable day and night, very professional and friendly and i could have not of asked for a nicer person to be dealing with. I would not hesitate in recommending family and friends to Julianne in the future.
Frances, Barton, ACT
“Dear Col, Well the house has exchanged!! I would like to thank you for all your dedication and persistence in order for this to happen. I know you said that you were only doing your job but your efforts were above and beyond the normal call of duty. Thank you”
Kim & Paul, Dee Why, NSW
“Mortgageport was originally recommended to us by our financial adviser. We are very busy people and don’t have the time to dedicate to finding the best home loan for our needs. We were glad that Mortgageport stepped in to help us. We found that they were pleasant and thorough and really knew what they were doing, this gave us a lot of confidence. We would recommend them to anyone looking for a home loan.”
Jessica, Seven Hills, NSW
“Thank you for the excellent service your company provided us with our recent refinancing of our loan. The speed you executed all correspondence with us, either with fax, phone or post was outstanding. It was so good to just sit back and feel everything just fall into place. All your staff were courteous, friendly and understanding of our needs. In particular Gloria who looked after us from start to end. Please thank all your staff involved with our financial needs.”
Marisa, Isaacs, ACT
“We are a boutique accounting practice in Canberra with a focus on property investors. Our clients are delighted with the incredible research and effort that Mortgageport make, the feedback is always so positive. Of course with this type of feedback, without reservation, we recommend Mortgageport to anyone that needs a loan. I personally always use Mortgageport for my own personal financing needs; they are knowledgeable and always have my best interests at heart. Every team member at Mortgageport goes the extra mile, I am not just a number but a client that is well looked after and my concerns always matter.”
Susie, Sydney, NSW
“Dear Glen, I would just like to express how impressed I have been with Beth, she has been a great support and her assistance has been invaluable, I could not have done without her advice; being rather a novice at all this it has been so good to have her advice and backup which she does in both a professional and empathetic manner.“
Linda, Chatswood, NSW
“Mortgageport did a brilliant job! I never ceased to be amazed at your patience and perseverance, not to mention efficiency, while organising the refinancing of our existing loans and financing the new property at Wobby Beach. We are very pleased with the way you set up the loans with St George and have found them extremely efficient and helpful.”
Fay, Boonah, QLD
“We were initially referred to Michael McKelvie at Mortgageport in early 2005 when we wanted to begin to put together a portfolio in Queensland. Our dealings with Michael went so smoothly, that we have continued to deal with him through multiple transactions to the present day. In our experience Mortgageport has a great team, they are professional and timely and have been able to provide exactly the right product for our needs. We have even utilised Mortgageport for personal real estate purchases as well. We continue to use Michael McKelvie and Mortgageport and will continue to do so, and have recommended Mortgageport to others and have absolutely no hesitation in doing so.”
Michael, Sydney, NSW
“I had an investment loan with a major lender for a holiday rental property in Culburra Beach. Unfortunately, I was not given a very good deal and I was also disappointed with the level of customer service. After investigating my refinancing options, I found that Mortgageport offered the tailored approach I was after. I wanted the process to be simple, streamlined and above all personalised. Glen Spratt, Mortgageport Managing Director, took the hassle out of the process by dealing directly with my accountant and the bank, briefing me when necessary. Glen secured a competitive rate and managed my expectations about dealing with the Bank of South Australia, a lender I hadn’t dealt with previously. I have been extremely satisfied with the outcome and have already recommended Mortgageport to five other colleagues.”
Loli, West Hoxton, NSW
“I am overwhelmed with how efficient you and your office are. I was advised by a friend that these things take weeks to put together. Well wait till I tell her it only took 24 hours. Once again, thank you for all your help.”
Jane, Rosebery, NSW
“Dear Michael, We remember you well from a few years back. We know we are in capable hands and all our contacts with Mortgageport consultants have been highly professional and positive.”
Chris, Canberra, ACT
“I have dealt with Mortgageport on two occasions now (specifically with Michael McKelvie) and have found not only their service to be of the highest professional standard, but they are also such a lovely friendly team to deal with. In a country where I feel the service industry has to a large degree fallen apart, the team at Mortgageport have always gone above and beyond the call of duty to address and guide me and my young family with time, patience and a really easy-going approach with all our mortgage related endeavors. I am not an investment banker or necessarily fabulous with facts and figures but still believe in equity and sustainable growth. I look forward to working with Mortgageport to develop a property portfolio now and well into the future.”
Tim, Maroubra, NSW
“I was introduced to Mortgageport by my father (one of Mortgageport’s first customers), back in late 2002 when I bought my first home. Since then, I have transacted four additional mortgages using their services. Each time I have found the advice to be professional, accurate and insightful as the staff draw from their considerable experience base. I am repeatedly delighted by their friendly personable approach, and the efficiency and speed of the way they do business.”
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