Understanding how much you can borrow is the first and perhaps most important step you’ll take towards owning your first home. And the good news is you could be there in less than five years.
Buying your first home will probably be the most exciting purchase you ever make; it will also likely be your biggest and most expensive investment to date. Saving for a deposit can seem like a daunting prospect, but data compiled by the ABS shows1 that, while there are big regional differences, the national average is just 4.6 years of saving before a first-home-buying couple has sufficient capital to enter the market.
Making informed decisions will help you own your home faster, and knowing just how much you can afford to borrow today is the first small step of your home-buying journey.
Just how much do I need for a home deposit?
To buy a home in Australia, you need a minimum deposit of 5% of the value of the house or unit you want to buy2 – however, many lending institutions will have an eligibility criteria requiring a 10% or 20% deposit. Of course, the larger the deposit you have, the less money you’ll need to borrow, and the less interest you’ll pay on mortgage repayments as a result.
Keep in mind that the purchase price on your dream home is not the only expense you’ll face when entering the market. Other costs include stamp duty, loan application fees, legal fees, moving costs, inspections, and home and contents insurance.
How much can I borrow?
While it’s easy to think that banks will lend you money based solely on how much you earn, it’s a little more complicated than that. Your salary is certainly an important factor in determining your borrowing power, but a number of factors also come into play when assessing your ability to make loan repayments. These include:
- whether you are the sole household income provider or whether there are two of you contributing and taking on the loan
- whether you have a regular salary, or get paid on an ad hoc basis
- how many dependants you have (if any)
- your average monthly expenses
- your credit history, total credit cards and their limits
- any personal loans you might have
- your loan term and how soon you want to pay your loan off.
Once you’ve gathered all this information on your financial stability, there are easy-to-use online tools, such as the AMP borrowing power calculator, that will help you gauge just how much you can afford to borrow.
How much should I borrow?
This is a question you need to ask yourself before you buy a home. You need to consider all factors that might impact on your overall financial situation and lifestyle. Be realistic and assess things like your job stability (will you be able to cover loan repayments if you’re between jobs?) and the health of the economy (will you be able to cover the repayment amount if interest rates rise?).
Your borrowing power should help guide your purchase
Once you’ve established how much you can, and should, borrow, it’s a good idea to use that information to make decisions about how you’ll approach the property market. Knowing what you plan to borrow can guide not just the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, but also the location, suburbs and property types that are right for your finances.
What are the next steps to becoming a home buyer?
Before you borrow or buy, there will be other financial factors to consider too — things like your credit rating, eligibility for financial assistance, and the ongoing costs of property purchase. Read our tips for first home buyers. But, borrowing money for your first home can be less stressful if you take the first important step of considering how much you can and how much you should borrow.
Once you have a general idea, it’s time to chat to the experts:
- Request a call back from an AMP Bank home loan expert, who will help you become familiar with the different types of loans on the market, and help you work out which will suit you best.
- See a mortgage broker, who can do all the groundwork for you, liaising with a wide range of lending institutions to get you the best rates for your loan amount or click here for a list of AMP advice locations.
1 ABC News (2017), A tale of two cities reveals vast gulf in housing affordability, 5 December 2017
2 First Home Loan Deposit Scheme: https://nhfic.gov.au/media/1236/fhlds-fact-sheet.pdf
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