Tue. May 28th, 2024

The Rookies: Scooping Up a Home Without Relying on the ‘Bank of Mom and Dad’

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker May14,2024
With national home prices at a peak, getting a foot on Australia’s property ladder is no easy feat.
But these first-home buyers have managed to do so without, they say, the help of family money for a deposit.

The journey wasn’t always easy, and they might not have ended up with what they first dreamed of, but they’re excited to have a place to call their own.

The single first-home buyer

Sam Nielsen achieved his dream of buying a home, but said it wasn’t without “lowering his standards”.
The 28-year-old call centre manager had spent 10 years on and off building his deposit, ultimately taking the plunge as it became increasingly harder to rent in Perth.

“[The property I was renting] was really nice and spacious … Now for $500 a week you can get nothing … so it actually ended up being cheaper for me to just buy,” he told SBS News.

Nielsen sold his whole share portfolio and, along with his life savings, almost raised the 20 per cent deposit required, with the getting him over the line.
He said it was “rewarding” to purchase a two-bedroom apartment for $363,000 in Belmont in Perth’s inner east, but he’d needed to drastically alter his expectations.
“I’m in an apartment that’s pretty small and I’m definitely not in my favourite or my desired area. It was all that I could afford,” he said.

“But it got me into the property market and I thought, especially with the way that things are going now, if I don’t purchase what I can, I never will.”

Nielsen said he wishes he’d focused more on his future in his early 20s and had put at least 5 to 10 per cent of each payslip aside, instead of prioritising things like travel.

The first-home-buying couples

Bank analyst Ash Kalia and his wife made several lifestyle changes to save a 20 per cent deposit for their first home in Point Cook, southwest of Melbourne.
The 34-year-old said they initially cut back on trivial things like coffee and eating out, before getting serious about their goal and adopting a more “frugal mindset”.
“Once you’re in that mindset where you’re frugal about your approach, your whole life centres on that,” he told SBS News.

“You think … ‘I need to save for a house’, and then you’ve got to be frugal about everything; saving on expensive lunches, dates, and all those things.”

A white weatherboard house.

Bank analyst Ash Kalia and his wife purchased a three-bedroom house in Point Cook for $660,000. Source: Supplied / Ash Kalia

The couple also had the added pressure of paying the remainder of their student fees after relocating to Australia from India.

They ultimately compromised on their dream home, as the value of properties they had previously looked at soared before they could pull their deposit together.
“Two years back the properties we were looking at were totally different. They were bigger, more bedrooms,” Kalia said.
“The same property we looked at for 690[K] to 700[K] is selling for around $800,000. It’s such a big jump.”
As the married couple waits to collect the keys to their three-bedroom house over the weekend, bought for $660,000, he said the feeling of knowing they finally got there is “surreal”.

“It’s a big milestone. First home is always special …. At one point you don’t feel like even buying. You feel like, ‘Okay, just keep going’… So we feel good, to be honest,” Kalia said.

A black dog on a bench next to a woman and a man

Sara and Pedro bought their first home in Sydney and said they found the process somewhat easier than in their home country of Brazil. Source: Supplied

Sara and Pedro are also happy first-home buyers. They saved a 5 per cent deposit after moving to Sydney from Brazil in January 2022.

The couple’s home search was relatively short, after falling in love with a two-bedroom apartment built by a Japanese developer Sara had already researched.
The 30-year-old research manager said they were surprised by how the process felt relatively accessible to them, even though they had to compete with rich investors for every property they looked at.
“In Brazil, it’s way harder to buy property even though it’s way cheaper because the down payment that you have to make is way bigger,” she told SBS News.

“So right here we found that only needing a 5 per cent deposit and being able to access the first home buyer scheme makes it a lot easier.”

What’s the state of the market?

Nationally, home prices (taking in both houses and units) were $768,000 in March — a figure that marked a peak, according to property research firm CoreLogic.
With a median home price of $1.069 million, Sydney was the most expensive state to buy in, followed by Melbourne ($802,000); Brisbane ($801,000); Adelaide ($723,000); Hobart ($662,000); and Perth ($660,000).
Despite affordability challenges, first-home buyer activity is in line with pre-pandemic levels, according to data released on Monday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
The ABS found that first-home buyer loan numbers were 13.2 per cent higher than a year ago.
But CoreLogic economist Eliza Owen explains long-term figures tell a different story.
“Even though the volume of first-home buyer loans looks fairly steady or even a little bit higher than the historic average, when you take into account the number of 25 to 34-year-olds in Australia, it’s actually a dwindling share,” Owen told SBS News.
“I think we’ll see that longer-term reflected in homeownership rates, which have broadly declined over time.”

The average first home buyer was 35 in 2020 but 10 years earlier they were 32, ABS data shows.

A street with houses

Nearly 60 per cent of prospective home buyers were getting financial support from their parents or other family members, according to a Westpac report. Source: AAP / Diego Fedele

Owen said government assistance can help but it doesn’t proportionately address the extremely rapid growth of some housing markets.

The property ladder is “harder to get on if you don’t actually have a property to start off with because home values are growing at a rate that outstrips income growth. So accumulating the deposit becomes harder,” she said.
A 2024 report from Westpac indicated that nearly 60 per cent of prospective home buyers were getting financial support from their parents or other family members.

Mortgage Choice broker Scott Partridge said he regularly works with first-home buyers and nearly all of them receive either family help or government help in the form of stamp duty cuts or first-home buyer grants.

He said family homes seem largely out of the equation for first-home buyers, as they look for smaller and more affordable properties following successive interest rates.
“People should be aware they may need to be more flexible in terms of their expectations,” Partridge told SBS News.

“It used to be that people could get in and buy a house, but increasingly that is difficult and therefore if people can use units as a stepping stone, into something more desirable.”

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “The Rookies: Scooping Up a Home Without Relying on the ‘Bank of Mom and Dad’”
  1. As a fellow first-home buyer, I commend Sam Nielsen for his perseverance and determination in achieving his dream of homeownership without relying on family money. It’s inspiring to see young individuals taking steps towards financial independence and building their future. Sam’s story is a reminder that with hard work and sacrifice, the goal of owning a home is attainable, even if it means adjusting one’s expectations. Kudos to Sam for seizing the opportunity and securing his place in the property market!

  2. How did Sam manage to save up for a deposit without any family help? It must have been challenging!

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