Home buying How-To

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We’ve got the How-To list to help with everything home buying – from when you first apply for a loan and start house hunting, right through to settlement and the moving in process.

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When applying for a loan

  • talk to the bank early on and find out what their lending requirements are
  • find a lender you feel comfortable dealing with and keep in touch with them
  • create a good savings history – even three to six months of regular saving can help
  • work out a budget before you see the bank to show you are well organised financially
  • pay off as many debts as you can before you apply for a loan (having other debts can reduce the amount you can borrow)
  • reduce the limits on your credit cards (lenders will take into account the maximum you could owe on credit cards)
  • try to gather up the information the bank needs before you apply (it’ll save you time and means you’ll get your answer faster)

When searching for a property

  • decide what areas you’re interested in
  • make a list of everything you’d like in a home (in priority order)
  • do a budget and gather up your financial information
  • talk to your lender – and ask about a loan conditional approval
  • do your research – talk to agents, read the papers and go online
  • find a good lawyer – ring several for quotes
  • look at as many homes as you can – and ‘score’ them.

Before making your offer

  • register your interest if the property is being sold by auction or tender
  • check the property out – use our checklist and talk with the local council
  • estimate the value – ask the agent about recent sales and price trends
  • check local values 
  • talk with your lawyer about your offer (or the auction or tender documents)
  • get a LIM report unless your offer is conditional on the LIM report
  • ask your bank what finance conditions you need in your offer
  • check with your lawyer each time before you sign or countersign any papers.

Once your offer is accepted

  • pay the real estate deposit to the real estate agent
  • give a copy of the sale and purchase agreement to your lawyer and lender
  • decide what sort of home loan you’d like
  • arrange for a valuation report if one is needed*
  • organise builder’s and engineer’s reports if they’re needed*
  • if you haven't already, get a LIM report and check the district plan* (your lawyer usually does this)
  • arrange insurance for the new home
  • think about making a new Will
  • make a time with your lawyer and bank to sign papers
  • set up any new bank accounts and automatic payments needed.

At settlement time

  • do a pre-settlement check of the property
  • make sure you have your share of the money ready to pay to the lawyer
  • on settlement day check with your lawyer that everything is going ahead
  • after settlement check the statement and papers your lawyer sends you
  • make sure you get a copy of the title showing you are the new owner
  • check your loan and insurance payments are going out as expected.

Arranging the move

  • if you’re renting, give notice and apply for your bond back
  • get quotes from several moving companies
  • check your home and contents insurance covers the move
  • arrange a moving time with the other owners
  • contact power, gas, TV, phone and Internet companies
  • redirect your mail and send change of address cards.

*You may want to do these things before you make your offer but most people do them afterwards because they don’t want to spend the money until they know their offer will be accepted. If you want to buy at auction or by unconditional tender you’ll need to do all your checks beforehand and get full approval by the bank. 

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Westpac's home loan lending criteria and terms and conditions apply. An establishment charge may apply.