Looking to buy your first home? Here are 8 things to know first, according to a buyer's advocate.

The First Home Guidebook
Thanks to our brand partner, The First Home Guidebook

So, the vast majority of us want to buy our first property. But how? With rising interest rates and property prices, it can feel like a challenge. 

It's a goal so many of us have in mind, and like lots of my friends, the more tips and tricks we have on hand... the better.

Amy Lunardi is a buyer's advocate, licensed real estate agent, and qualified property investment advisor. With over 10 years of experience in the industry, Amy has successfully helped over a thousand people to find and purchase their first homes. 

Amy tells Mamamia that she sees buying property for the first time like online dating.

Not everything is perfect on paper, and finding love (and property) is a unique journey for everyone. 

"Sometimes you find 'the one' really quickly, other times it's a numbers game. Going on a heap of dates can be exhausting – but sometimes you're lucky and meet someone you click with at the beginning. It's the same with finding a property," she says.

Given so many people are keen to enter the property market, Amy created The First Home Guidebook – an online 'how-to' guide designed to educate and empower those looking to buy their first home.

To further spread some property love and knowledge, Amy shares with Mamamia her industry insights and eight top tips for first-home buyers. 

1. Seeing a mortgage broker is one of the first (and best things) to do.

If Amy has one golden piece of advice, it's this – see a mortgage broker as soon as you have a property goal. 


They're available to help you figure out what's achievable and tackle the three approaches to being able to afford a property.

"There's a misconception that you shouldn't see a broker until you've saved a deposit, but that's definitely not the case," Amy says.

And when it comes to the deposit, Amy says while 20 per cent is considered ‘ideal’, it won’t be achievable for many buyers. She recommends aiming for at least a 10 per cent deposit, but in some situations, you can buy with as little as 5 per cent.

A mortgage broker is also the person to go to when exploring potential first homebuyer grants, concessions and whether to opt for a fixed or variable interest rate loan. Simply put – a mortgage broker can be a property guardian angel.  

2. Approach the realm of property with realistic expectations.

Everyone's financial and personal situations are completely different. 

"While it might be tempting to pretend you’re on an episode of Selling Sunset, being realistic from the get-go will avoid disappointment down the line," Amy says.

"Doing a reality check before heading out to a property inspection or looking online is ideal. There's no point looking at places way out of your budget."

 Image: Supplied.


3. Factor in a good ol' cash buffer when devising a budget.

The first step to organising your household budget is determining what you're comfortable setting aside for mortgage repayments, Amy says.

"You're the one that needs to afford those repayments going forward. It's about realising what you can actually afford, as well as making sure there is leeway for common costs, debt, and also having enough leftover to build up your ‘emergency fund’ over time."

And given the current risk of interest rate fluctuations and the potential for extra costs, Amy notes it's always great to factor in a cash buffer. 


If you're buying with someone else, make sure you have open and honest conversations about budgets. This will ensure that you're aligned and will also help you avoid any surprises later on.

4. Get expert advice from a buyer's advocate.

If you're feeling overwhelmed, or need answers to questions, expert advice can help. That's why The First Home Guidebook is so helpful, it literally helps you buy your first home. 


Right from the very beginning when you're saving up for a deposit, through to getting a loan, putting your property strategy together, figuring out what you can actually afford and making sure it's realistic. It also explains how to search for properties, how to speak to agents, what properties are worth, inspections, negotiating, submitting offers and bidding. 

Essentially, everything you need to know about buying your first home, including ways to reduce risks, avoid making a mistake and minimise your stress throughout the journey.

The course has videos, PDFs and a bonus spreadsheet to help you figure out how much it costs to buy and own a property. It also helps you keep track of properties as you're searching and inspecting. 

5. Get your home loan approved with this rule of three. 

There’s three key factors the bank will consider when deciding to give you a loan, and how much for, Amy says.

Number one is to know your capacity, in terms of your income and expenses. You might have a great income, but if you have high expenses or a lot of debt, including pay later accounts like Afterpay, this can significantly reduce your borrowing capacity.

Second, is having collateral. If you don't have a high deposit, you might consider utilising a family security guarantee, where a family member with sufficient equity in their home can use it as a security guarantee for your loan. Or you can look into Government Schemes like the First Home Guarantee or Victorian Home Buyer fund where you can purchase a property with as little as a 5 per cent deposit.


The third thing is character. It's about keeping your financial behaviour balanced and making sure you have a clean credit report.

6. Tap into the secret world of off-market properties.

An off-market property is any property that isn't advertised on the Internet. 

Interestingly, there are thousands available at any point in time, it's almost like the "property dark web", Amy says. 

"I buy around 30 per cent of our clients' properties off-market. So if you're a buyer and you're looking for a property, I would encourage you to tap into this area."

Amy explains that off-market properties can be appealing as they often have less, or no competition. It’s not only buyer's advocates who can get access to off-markets, you can too. All it takes is calling up various real estate agents in your area and asking them to keep you in the loop about off-market opportunities. 

7. Have a checklist of your must-have considerations when looking at a property.

"The most important thing is to make sure you have all your non-negotiable boxes listed. Focus on those non-negotiables to make sure the property aligns with you," Amy notes.

Non-negotiables can be in relation to specific aspects of the property itself like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, renovation standard or parking, or with respect to the local area like being on a quiet street or within walking distance of a train station. And importantly, if you are buying property with another person, you need to make sure your non-negotiable are aligned. I recommend checking out Amy's checklist for what to look out for at property inspections. 


8. Remember there is no such thing as 'the perfect time' to enter the market.

"Firstly, it's essentially impossible to time the market," Amy says.

"First-home buyers are often nervous but also have a fear of missing out. That's normal. Even our top economists can't predict what's going to happen in the future, so the best way to approach buying property is just to focus on what you can control, like how much you can afford and choosing the right time for you both financially and emotionally."

So if you're a first-home buyer who is feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, don't stress too much – because you're not alone.

"Making a mistake in property can be incredibly costly, both financially and personally, and whilst there are property professionals you can engage with to help with the process, nothing is more important than educating yourself. It will help you build up your confidence and feel empowered as you undertake one of life's biggest financial and personal milestones," Amy shares with Mamamia

The First Home Guidebook is an online 'how-to' guide to help you buy your first home. You can get a $200 discount with the code MAMAMIA.

Feature Image: Supplied.

The First Home Guidebook
About Amy Lunadi
Amy is an expert buyer’s advocate, licensed real estate agent and qualified property investment advisor with over 10 years of experience in the property industry. She is the founder of Amy Lunardi Property and the host of The First Home Guidebook – an educational podcast series and online course that empowers first-home buyers in Victoria with all the tools and knowledge they need to buy their first home. The First Home Guidebook contains invaluable industry insights to streamline the entire process and help buyers avoid common mistakes as they undertake one of life’s most important personal and financial milestones.