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8 Ways to Negotiate Your Dream Home for Less in Australia



Effectively negotiating the purchase of your first home is a crucial aspect of the real estate process, as it not only helps secure a favourable price but also ensures that the transaction aligns with your financial goals and long-term plans.

While finding the right property is key, skilful negotiation can lead to significant savings and more favourable terms, such as a lower interest rate, flexible payment schedules, or reduced closing costs.

This not only eases your financial burden but also ensures that your deal reflects the property’s value and conditions.

Understanding the Real estate Market

To be a savvy homebuyer in Australia, it’s important to dig into the market details.

Get a good grasp of current real estate trends, numbers, and economic info.

This isn’t just helpful; it’s essential for making smart choices when you’re trying to snag your dream home.

By understanding this data, you predict when property prices might go up or down, helping you adjust your negotiation tactics.

In simple terms, it gives you the ability to see if the property of your choice is pricey or if there are great deals hiding out there compared to similar ones. It’s like having X-ray vision for the real estate market!

Setting Your Budget

When you have made up your mind to buy a house, don’t forget to be aware of your financial limitations and various options that come into play.

Assessing your home buying affordability, becomes a paramount concern, as it dictates the scope of possibilities within your budget and shapes the feasibility of your home purchase, influencing not only the type of property you consider but also the long-term financial stability of your investment.

This process presents a challenge in striking a balance between wants and needs.

While we all have our dream homes in mind, making informed decisions that align with our financial reality is essential to ensure that our housing choices are not only emotionally satisfying but also sustainable and fiscally responsible in the long run.

Let’s help you navigate the complex landscape of home buying with a clear and pragmatic perspective, ensuring you make a sound and sustainable investment.

Financial Limitations and Options

Financial limitations can impact the options available to you during the negotiation process.

This involves assessing your current financial situation, including income, expenses, and credit score, to determine a realistic budget for purchasing a home.

Explore different mortgage options such as fixed-rate mortgages, adjustable-rate mortgages, or government-backed loans can provide flexibility when it comes to financing a home purchase.

Additionally, considering factors such as down payment requirements and interest rates will further inform the negotiation process and enable buyers to make informed decisions regarding their financial commitments.

Assessing Affordability Accurately

This process involves calculating expenses beyond the mortgage payment, such as property taxes, insurance, and maintenance costs.

Consider both fixed and variable expenses to ensure financial stability in the long term.

To assess mortgage affordability, potential homebuyers should calculate their debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which compares monthly debt payments to monthly gross income.

Lenders typically prefer a DTI below 43%, although it may vary based on individual circumstances.

Remember a higher credit score leads to better loan terms and lower interest rates.

Consequently, improving your credit score before applying for a mortgage, can increase affordability and save money in the long run.

Balancing Wants and Needs

When it comes to negotiating strategies, you should prioritise your preferences based on what is most important to you.

This requires a strategic approach that considers both short-term desires and long-term goals.

One effective strategy is to identify non-negotiables and areas where compromise may be possible.

By having a clear understanding of must-haves versus nice-to-haves, you can focus your negotiations on the key aspects that matter most to you, allowing you to prioritise your housing needs while staying within your budget constraints.

This approach helps streamline the decision-making process, ensuring that your home purchase aligns with your financial goals and personal preferences.

Don’t forget to conduct thorough market research and stay informed about current trends. This knowledge can be leveraged during your home buying negotiations.

Researching Comparable Sales

Analysing real estate market trends involves looking at various factors such as sale prices, property types, square footage, and amenities offered by similar properties.

This analysis helps you understand the prevailing market values and identify any fluctuations or patterns that may impact your negotiating power.

Negotiating With Sellers

From the seller’s perspective, they may have various reasons for selling their property, such as financial constraints, relocation, or simply wanting to move on from their current home.

Understanding these motivations can provide valuable insight into your negotiation process.

One strategic approach is to conduct thorough research on the property and its market value. This knowledge helps you to make informed offers based on comparable sales data and market trends in that area.

Additionally, remain flexible during negotiations by considering alternative terms that appeal to the seller, such as a shorter closing period or assistance with certain expenses.

Employing persuasive techniques like highlighting potential benefits for both parties or presenting creative solutions increases your chances of reaching an agreement with the seller.

Using Contingencies to Your Advantage

Negotiating contingencies is a tricky business, but there are some valuable tips that can make the process smoother and increase your chances of success.

These tips provide practical advice on how to navigate obstacles and uncertainties that arise during negotiations.

One key aspect is thorough research; understanding the market, the property, and the parties involved.

On the flip side, maximising contingency highlights how we use contingencies as a powerful tool to secure more favourable outcomes in negotiations.

To do this, you need to pinpoint your seller’s interests (achieving successful sale that increases their financial return, reduce their time on the market and making sure a smooth transition takes place), and figure out which contingencies can help them achieve those goals.

Understanding their priorities and motivations is the key to crafting a negotiation strategy that aligns with the sellers’ needs, making it more likely for both parties to reach a mutually beneficial agreement.

Contingency Negotiation Tips

Two key contingencies that you as first-time home buyer can use are the appraisal and inspection contingencies.

Appraisal Contingency

What It Is: This is like a reality check for the home’s price. It ensures the house is worth what you’re paying for it.

How It Works: If the appraisal comes in lower than the agreed-upon price, you negotiate with the seller to lower the price or even cancel the deal without penalties.

Why It’s Important: It protects you from overpaying for a home, giveing you a chance to renegotiate if needed.

Inspection Contingency

What It Is: Think of it as a health check for the house. It lets you know if there are any hidden issues.

How It Works: You hire a home inspector to check the property. If they find problems (like a leaky roof or faulty wiring), you ask the seller to fix them or reduce the price.

Why It’s Important: It helps you avoid buying a home with costly, surprise issues, and gives you peace of mind.

These contingencies are like safety nets, ensuring you don’t end up with a house that’s not worth the price or has hidden problems. They’re great tools for first-time homebuyers to protect their investment.

Closing the Deal

Analyse Terms and Conditions: Carefully review contracts and agreements to find issues and areas to negotiate. For example, you can negotiate better financing terms or ask for repairs based on inspection reports.

Use Information Wisely: Gather and analyse market data, sales prices, and property history. This helps you justify your offers and understand local market trends, which can lead to a fair purchase price.

Leverage Technology: Use tech tools for real-time market data. It helps you make quick, informed decisions during negotiations, giving you an advantage.

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Real Estate

First-Home Buyer Scheme at Risk: Greens Concerned About Impact



A long-awaited federal government scheme that would allow first-home buyers to enter the market with a 2 per cent deposit and co-own their property with the government is stuck in the trenches following threats by the Greens to sink it in the Senate.

The Help to Buy scheme is the newest proposed form of federal aid for first-home buyers. It would allow home buyers to co-own their property with the government by sharing the equity ( up to 30 per cent for existing dwellings and 40 per cent for new ones ), which would effectively make mortgage repayments more affordable.

The buyer wouldn’t need to pay rent on the stake owned by the government. If the property was sold before the equity was bought back, then the government would also have a share in the profit based on the amount of equity it owned.

However, the Greens currently oppose the proposed bill, claiming it would only help a small pool of Australians (40,000 over four years), that it may push up property prices even further, and that it will not fix the current lack-of-supply crisis.

“Unless Labor is prepared to work with the Greens to fix negative gearing and capital gains tax handouts, cap rents and build public housing, the Greens will vote against Labor’s housing lottery bill in the House, and we reserve our position in the Senate,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said last week.

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver agrees that the scheme will not “solve the underlying problem” of undersupply.

“We really need to see more social housing, more affordable housing overall, and perhaps a reduction in red tape to really help speed up getting this supply to market,” she says.

Entry prices, houses


Dec-23 Dec-22 YoY 5-year change
Canberra $800,000 $800,000 0.0% 42.6%
Adelaide $595,000 $517,000 15.1% 61.7%
Brisbane $635,000 $560,000 13.4% 51.2%
Darwin $460,750 $450,000 2.4% 15.2%
Hobart $530,000 $550,000 -3.6% 55.3%
Melbourne $678,000 $670,000 1.2% 16.9%
Perth $505,000 $435,000 16.1% 31.6%
Sydney $927,250 $870,000 6.6% 38.0%
Australia $545,000 $492,000 10.8% 47.3%


Source: Domain First Home Buyer Report, Feb 2024. Note: Entry price is based on 25th percentile for the 3 months to Dec 2023.

“There are many state-based incentives, and there are shared equity schemes in certain parts of Australia,” she says. “There are state-based incentives out there that are designed to help, such as first-home buyer grants.”

Oliver adds this isn’t the first time the Greens have pushed back against a proposed housing policy, and he expects the parties will reach a compromise as they have in the past.

“If it is blocked, we’ll just move on to the next thing,” he says.

Will Help to Buy make properties more expensive?

“Anything that activates and brings people to market when it’s not complemented with high levels of supply pushes prices up,” Powell says.

Domain’s latest First Home Buyer Report found that the median entry-price house for an Australian couple aged 25-34 increased by 10.8 per cent in the past year, and entry-price units increased by 9.1 per cent.

The price of an entry-level home in Brisbane skyrocketed from $560,000 in December 2022 to $635,000 in December 2023, in Adelaide by 15.1 per cent from $517,000 to $595,000, and in Perth by 16.1 per cent from $435,000 to $505,000.

While it’s possible the proposed scheme could push entry-level prices further up, Oliver believes the impact would be “relatively minor” due to recently low first-home buyer activity as a result of higher interest rates.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics data, first-home buyers committed to 110,000 new loans in 2023 – much lower than 118,000 in 2022, 163,000 in 2021, and 136,000 in 2020.

Oliver says the predicted interest rate cuts later this year are more likely to “put upward pressure on prices” because they would allow people to borrow and spend more money.

Help to Buy alternatives for first-home buyers

If the Help to Buy sinks, first-home buyers still have several grants and schemes available to access.

“It is a difficult market for first-home buyers, and the federal and state governments have recognised this,” says Mozo banking and rates expert Peter Marshall. “There are a range of schemes that prospective home owners can tap into from one-off grants, or reduced or no stamp-duty to deposit savings schemes like the super saver scheme that allows you save money for your first home in your super fund.

“But in addition to the grants and schemes available, first-home buyers need to do their due diligence on their choice of home loan as this is going to have by far the largest long-term financial impact on them.”

Grants and schemes available to first-home buyers include:

  • First Home Guarantee (or First Home Loan Deposit Scheme ). You can buy property with just a 5 per cent deposit without paying lender’s mortgage insurance.  Property caps apply depending on the city and region.
  • First Home Super Saver Scheme. You can make voluntary contributions to your super (up to $15,000 every financial year) and withdraw up to $30,000 to later use as a home deposit.
  • Family Home Guarantee. Single parents can buy a property with a 2 per cent deposit without paying lender’s mortgage insurance.
  • Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme. You can buy a property in regional Australia with just a 5 per cent deposit without paying lender’s mortgage insurance.
  • First Home Owner Grant. You receive a monetary grant towards buying a newly built property. The amount received varies from state to state and property caps apply depending on the state.
  • Stamp duty waivers and concessions. These vary from state to state and are generally capped to the purchase price.
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Real Estate

Aintree and Balwyn North Among Top-Growing Suburbs in Melbourne



A mix of middle and outer Melbourne suburbs can be revealed as the city’s best performing over the past five years, after the house price medians grew as much as 40 per cent in some locales.

South-eastern Narre Warren North recorded the largest jump, up 38.4 per cent to the end of December, to a median of $1,693,000 on Domain data. It was followed by growth suburb Aintree (up 34.8 per cent to $755,000) and inner-eastern Balwyn North (33.4 per cent to $2,375,000).

Unit prices grew the most in Mitcham, where they jumped 21.3 per cent over the five years to $752,000. It was followed by Highett (19.6 per cent to $658,000) and Brighton (17.9 per cent to $1.2 million).

Melbourne’s overall median house price rose 22.1 per cent in the same period. Although it remains below its peak, the market has somewhat improved in recent weeks as clearance rates point to modest price rises and home buyers show renewed activity in expectation of a Reserve Bank rate cut later in the year.

The analysis excludes the Mornington Peninsula, but growth was even stronger in popular sea-change destinations that swelled during lockdowns such as Blairgowrie, Sorrento and Rye, which were up 66.3 per cent, 52.9 per cent and 52.8 per cent, respectively.

KPMG planning and infrastructure economics director Terry Rawnsley said strong results in suburbs further from the city reflected entrenched affordability issues and lockdown-era preferences for larger homes.

“There’s definitely a ripple effect coming through those middle-ring suburbs,” he said. “They’ve been priced out of the [more inner] inner suburbs and are heading out along the train lines by a couple of stops.

“There’s definitely places in the middle-ring suburbs where people wanted to get out of the inner city. The two-bedroom townhouse was less appealing than the detached four-bedroom house.”

Narre Warren North in particular reflected this trend; recent buyer Edward Hao said he saw great value in the leafy suburb.

“I moved from Bentleigh East … we loved [Narre Warren North] because the price is affordable. When you pay the same price you can’t buy your dream house anywhere in Melbourne, but you can buy your dream house there,” he said. “We love the animals, you can see kangaroos. The mountains are visible and there’s no traffic.

“We never asked our friends to come [visit in Bentleigh East] because the streets are too narrow, and the streets are packed up. There’s no room for them to come and park.”

Belle Property Berwick director Anne Haynes sold Hao his new home in Fontaine Terrace, Narre Warren North for $3,388,888. She said other buyers were replicating Hao’s move out from smaller inner suburbs.

“We’re getting international buyers, but we’re also getting buyers from inner suburbs, say Bentleigh, Oakleigh, and everywhere in between who are living on cramped smaller blocks,” she said. “If you move out to Narre Warren North, it’s tranquil and peaceful.”

Haynes said a diverse mix of properties meant buyers of most budgets had options in the acreage suburb.

Ray White Berwick director Debbie Brettoner said it had also benefited from the opening of a new mosque which had proved attractive to the Islamic community.

“The mosque has brought a lot of people out of Dandenong and Hallam, and they want the bigger blocks of land, closer to the mosque,” she said. “And then COVID. People said, ‘I can work from home, I want the peace and tranquillity of the big block’.”

Brettoner said it was common for homeowners to try to stay in the area after selling.

“I sold a house for someone who looked to see if they could find something for 12 months,” she said. Those buyers ended up buying in nearby Berwick after giving up on their first choice of suburb, Brettoner said.

Rawnsley said a strong five-year result in a growth suburb like Aintree reflected a maturing of a greenfield market, as developers began shifting away from building entry-level homes to cater for local upgraders.

“The suburbs out towards Melton is reflecting a fuller build out of the community,” he said. “As those markets pick up [developers] try to pick up the margins a bit.”

Harcourts West Realty listing agent Matthew Farrugia said newer stages of the suburb’s development that were more expensive had been popular with previously entry-level buyers.

Farrugia said the opening of a new private school had also proved to be a drawcard, even drawing interest from overseas.

“There’s a fair bit of multicultural people there. It’s a very strong Indian community,” he said. “A lot of [growth] came once the school [Bacchus Marsh Grammar] came through. It just boosted it by heaps and then the lockdown came through, it was like a double effect.”

Farrugia said properties tended to be larger to accommodate multigenerational families, which also kept prices high.

“If you drive through Aintree, they’re predominantly double-storey houses,” he said. “There’s a lot of million dollar homes there because they’re all big.”

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Real Estate

Sydney House Prices Surge: Leppington Tops Growth List with a 112.9% Rise



House prices in every Sydney suburb are more expensive than five years ago, new data reveals.

In Leppington, a stone’s throw away from Sydney’s upcoming second airport, house prices more than doubled. The median of the fast-developing suburb jumped by 112.9 per cent to $1,162,500 in the five years ending December 2023 on Domain data.

A string of nearby suburbs also made it onto the top 20 list of the strongest growing suburbs in the same period, including Denham Court (up 66.7 per cent), Harrington Park (up 62.8 per cent) and Gledswood Hills (up 59.1 per cent).

Blue chip suburbs near beaches and in the inner city also recorded some of the strongest growth in Sydney in the past five years. Bronte jumped 78.2 per cent to a median of $5.8 million, Glebe grew 72.8 per cent to a median of $2.73 million and North Bondi increased 67 per cent to $4,275,000.

Sydney’s overall median house price has risen 49.5 per cent since December 2018.

St George chief economist Besa Deda said Sydney house price growth would likely continue in the next year, albeit at a slower pace.

“During COVID, the Reserve Bank cut back to a historically low level and that did encourage economic activity and buyer activity, particularly once we reopened the economy and borders,” Deda said.

This was happening against a backdrop of lower building approvals and less housing construction – all pointing to a chronic shortage of homes in the face of ongoing demand.

“There’s a housing shortage. There is a very large increase in the population that’s coming through, and the labour markets remain tight as well. That is helping support dwelling prices,” she said.

While Deda expects house price growth to continue, it will slow down thanks to higher interest rates, which has stretched affordability.

“We expect price growth to continue in Sydney but not at the same pace as last year. The rate of growth would moderate,” she said, adding that rate cuts would contribute to fresh pressures.

North Bondi sellers Yvonne Strasser and Cary Fraser hope to capitalise on the house price growth of the suburb to downsize in the postcode they bought into in 2018.

“We’ve done a renovation on the property and the home is beautiful. We absolutely love the home. Once you’re up in the tree house, you’re away from everything and feel like you’re on holiday,” Strasser said. “Hopefully, we can capitalise on the growth and stay in North Bondi.”

She said the suburb was perhaps once undervalued and has only burgeoned in recent years.

“Before it could maybe be seen as a little bit rundown, but now it’s becoming a bit more gentrified,” she said.

“With all of the new developments, not necessarily the houses, but just places to go, even down the promenade. They’re doing the pavilion up. They’re making it more of an area people want to go to, it’s brought more people to the area.”

Their selling agent Warren Ginsburg of Ray White Double Bay, who is guiding $6 million on the North Bondi property, said blue chip suburbs soared to new heights during COVID.

“It’s due to people wanting better lifestyles, they want proximity to beaches and to cafes and restaurants,” Ginsburg said.

He said young families, successful business owners and cashed-up downsizers were propelling house price growth in the eastern suburbs.

“It’s definitely young families who have had success in business in the past few years and are upgrading and there are a lot of downsizers who have sold their properties for significantly more than they expected are now downsizing into that market and are cashed up and driving the prices up.”

Ginsburg said these areas will continue to rise as the combination of lifestyle and proximity to amenities remains desirable.

Meanwhile, house prices in far-flung suburbs on the outskirts of the city recorded impressive jumps in the past five years due to their relative affordability, as many sit well below the citywide median of $1,595,310, as well as their proximity to fast-growing infrastructure and amenities.

“Denham Court, Gledswood Hills. They’re all within a kilometre radius of Leppington. We’ve got the railway station, you’ve got the airport coming. You can see that being built, and it’s a realisation,” said Michael Cavagnino of LJ Hooker Leppington.

“It’s all about accessibility and affordability. We’ve had a lot of people moving out from the inner suburbs because the station is there as well as the flexible working arrangements.

“We’re finding a lot of first home buyers and people who are upsizing are driving the growth,” he said, as well as investors. “Leppington as well is the strategic centre of the south-west. I can see it being like Parramatta, like Sydney’s third city.”

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