I Just Bought My First Apartment — Here’s What I’d Do Differently Next Time
One of the things I am most commonly asked is about my home. Owning property is not something you typically expect to hear from a person my age, and there is a reason for that — it isn’t the easiest option available. I bought my apartment as a single 21-year-old while both working and studying full time. While I am pretty proud of myself for taking that step (while people I knew were out every weekend getting drunk AF), it has taken a lot of sacrifice and has required me to “go without.”
It would be easy to look at me and say, “she must have rich parents” (I don’t), or “this was handed to her” (it wasn’t). What doesn’t seem to come naturally to people is to say “holy f*** balls, this is cool — tell me your experience so I can be more informed from different perspectives when I am in a position to enter the property market.” If you are the latter, please do read on.
By going through this experience early on in adulthood, I have found there are definitely things I would do differently. So get your pen and paper ready to take some notes.
If I Could Do It Over I Would Still…
1. Choose to buy
I have absolutely no regrets in:
- buying a property instead of renting;
- buying a one-bedroom, entry-level property
Owning a property is far more stressful than renting, but the rewards are greater, too. After a long, shitty day at work, coming home to my home is a very rewarding feeling and gives me the extra gusto I need when life is feeling a little too hard. I also have no regrets about buying the size property I did. Yes, it is small. Yes, it is one bedroom. But it means that I do not have to rely on anyone to help me service my loan. If I went with a two- or three-bedroom place (which I did look at), I would have to have people renting those rooms out to meet my loan repayments, and I don’t ever want to have to be in the position where I am relying on other people to get by.
Secondly, I love coming back to my own space. As trivial as it sounds, I don’t have to worry about anyone else’s dishes or share the shower, or any of those shared housing problems. I am aware that I am extremely privileged to be able to say that. But I think my alone time makes me far better (and more patient) in my job, which heavily deals with human management. I thrive on having time alone to decompress.
2. Go with a mortgage broker
I made the decision to go with a mortgage broker because they are the experts. I was also in the final semester of my degree, working full time managing a cafe, and I simply didn’t have time. The person I went with was so much more than a mortgage broker — she was my emotional backbone and a voice of reason during the entire process. (Side note: No one tells you how much of an emotional-rollercoaster buying a property can be.) The only thing I would change is perhaps looking at getting a mortgage broker that charges an upfront fee. Although technically you pay nothing with a traditional mortgage broker, you don’t know how independent their advice is as they receive kickbacks from banks (it’s how they make their money).
3. Choose to fix my home loan
I went with the decision to fix my home loan for the first three years, for a couple of reasons. For one, the interest rate was lower than the variable option of the same product. But the main reason I did this was to fix my repayments and adjust to the financial pressure of home ownership. I didn’t want to have to worry about the changing climate of interest rates. I wanted to know how much my mortgage repayments were every week so I could schedule my budget accordingly until I found my feet.
4. Buy in the area I chose
I am still 100% happy with the suburb and area I chose. It is a developing suburb just 10 kilometers from the city. Because it is still developing, and the entry price was lower than say the next suburb. But the return on investment looks promising, as the Brisbane area continues to grow in population. When it comes to buying a property, you need to be really practical and forward-thinking. Yes, the brand new apartments with a rooftop pool may seem sexy, but the body corp fees are going to send you broke, and the oversaturation of the market in that area will drive your property value down (or hold it at a steady price).
If I Could Do It Over I Would Not…
1. Have bought my unit until I had saved the full 20%
Mortgage insurance is a bitch! Enough said.
2. Have started house hunting before I had finished my degree
As I mentioned earlier, when I purchased my property, I was in my final semester of university and held a full-time management role at a cafe. Safe to say, shit was crazy. I would have preferred to have waited until university was complete and I had more time to invest (and enjoy) in the process. However, life didn’t happen that way and the result would have still been the same. I just think my mental health would have benefited had I not overloaded my plate.
3. Have asked certain people for advice (or listened to unrequested advice)
When it comes to taking advice, be very selective. Find five or 10 people that you see as successful, who you admire or who you aspire to be like, and seek their advice. If your 50-year-old, single and unemployed uncle who has never owned anything in his life, let alone property, starts doling out advice, take it with a grain of salt. You can love someone without taking their advice too seriously.
If you are thinking of entering the property market and want to at least weigh it up as an option, feel free to hit me up for a chat. You can message me on Instagram, Facebook, or send me an email.
Carly is a four-eyed, caffeine-addicted and severely-clumsy girl living down under in Australia. She regularly publishes rants, braindumps and even some tricks to survive life on her blog, The Chronicles of Carly, and on her Instagram, @thechroniclesofcarly.
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