Buying a house isn’t easy, especially right now.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by:
Property market instability
Tough lending criteria
You’re not alone.
But here’s the story you won’t hear in the media.
At Faisandier Group, we recently handed over the keys to 25 new owners at our 33 Sladden Street
The majority of whom were first home buyers.
They inspired me to put together this guide with the hope it would give you a better chance of success too.
Here are 7 Baby Steps to Buy a New Build in 2023.
Step 1: Answer this question: Why do I want to buy?
When it comes to buying a house, ‘why’ you are buying is more important than ‘what’ you are buying.
Your motivation is important because the property market can be volatile.
If you’re buying your first home purely as a short term investment opportunity you’re playing a risky game.
A recurring theme when talking to first home buyers who’ve managed to find a way through is they’re buying a property to:
Control their destiny
Leave a legacy
Invest in a long term asset
Use as a base for future investment
Those are some fantastic motivations behind getting into your first home.
Why do you want to buy?
Step 2: Leverage the greatest free service in NZ
No, it’s not Google Search.
The right mortgage advisor is astronomically underrated.
Having someone work with 12+ lenders on your behalf to get you the best deal at no cost to you is simply a no-brainer for first home buyers.
But notice how I said the right mortgage advisor.
Not every broker will be the right fit; even if they do multi-million dollars in mortgages a week.
So how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Ask them this question: “How many of your clients have settled off-the-plans purchases in the last 12 months?”
1 - 7: They may be too green
7+: That’s more like it
Note: It’s important to ask your broker if they have a clawback commission clause to be aware of.
If you don’t know what a claw back is, read this: https://mortgagelab.co.nz/ufaqs/what-if-i-sell-my-home-or-refinance-my-mortgage-shortly-after-using-a-mortgage-broker/
Step 3: Pretend you are already paying a mortgage
If you’ve done step 1 and 2 you’re already ahead of 80% of first home buyers.
Convincing a bank to lend you money is the next hurdle.
When applying for a home loan, the bank will require three months worth of bank statements to ensure you have enough uncommitted monthly income to service mortgage repayments.
For 3 months leading up to your application we’d encourage you to:
Avoid excessive discretionary spending
Cancel unnecessary subscriptions
Not change jobs or start a business
Delay starting a family if possible
Remember, a mortgage is a promise to the bank that you’ll pay them back so don’t give them reasons to believe you won’t make good on your promise.
Step 4: Trademe & Google Sheets: Power combo
Most buyers start by looking at Trademe listings and steps 1, 2, 3.
The equivalent is going to the mall without checking your account balance.
What’s the point of finding a new pair of Nike’s if you don’t know if you can afford them?
You’ve done well to make it this far; now let’s find you a home.
We’re fortunate to have some fantastic digital marketplaces for property in NZ.
They’re all very similar so let’s use Trademe for our example:
Search for new build properties where you’d like to live
Choose 5 you like the look of
Record their prices, specifications and addresses in a Google Sheet
Update the spreadsheet every week for 6 weeks
If prices have reduced, you may have some negotiating power.
If prices haven’t changed, that might be their bottom line.
If the listings disappear, give the agent a call and ask why.
With a laptop and an internet connection everyone has the tools they need, why not use them?
Step 5: Questions to ask a developer
Let’s say you’ve found a great looking new build.
Sign the S&P?
Just a second.
You’ll want to do some research behind who the developer is and what their track record is like.
Before we go over some questions to ask a developer, here’s some helpful context:
There’s a mountain of pre-work that goes into a development:
Yet with all of that planning there’s just as many unknowns:
Supply chain delays
Property market fluctuations
Every developer hopes for the best but you’ll want confidence they’re planned for the worst.
Great questions you can ask a developer are:
“What happens to my deposit?” “When have you had to adjust your plans?” “When is the sunset clause set?”
A new build is only as good as its developer.
Step 6: Negotiate more than just price
Two questions every buyer must ask themselves when negotiating a new build contract are:
Are we paying over, under or even with market value?
Do the conditions on the contract match our timeframes?
For obvious reasons many buyers will spend 90% of their energy on price.
But the wrong conditions can cause you as much of a headache as the wrong price.
Here’s some commonly missed questions to ask when it comes to new build contract conditions:
Are we happy with the sunset clause date?
Can the developer do lower than a 10% deposit?
How long does Kainga Ora require to process my First Home Grant application?
If we’re paying above market value, can the developer sweeten the deal with free upgrades?
Is the price I’m paying now fixed or will it vary during the build?
Step 7: A broker is a man’s best friend
You’ve identified your motivation for buying
You’ve enlisted a mortgage broker
You’ve earned the bank’s trust
You’ve researched the market
You’ve found the right developer & the right townhouse
You’ve negotiated not just the price
If you’ve got to this point, congratulations.
One more step before you can wear that FHB badge with pride.
The final frontier in your quest.
Often we find buyers engage their broker at the very start and the very end of the process.
That would be fine if nothing in the financial market ever changed but we know that’s not the case.
So, it’s a good idea to get regular updates from your broker that might affect your ability to settle.
A healthy habit would be a 15 minute phone call once every couple of months 12 months from settlement.
If you read something alarming in the media, give your broker a bell to see how it will affect you.
Remember they get paid when your mortgage is realised on settlement day so they’re just as motivated as you are to make sure things go smoothly.
Hi I’m Hausia,
I help first home buyers make better buying decisions.
If you want access to arguably the best off-the-plans mortgage advisor in Lower Hutt, click ‘contact us’ below or head straight to his website here.
If you have any questions about something you've read in the blog, email email@example.com.