NSW first home buyers checklist

Narelle Davis

January 18, 2024


Embarking on the journey to purchase your first home is an exciting and monumental step. As you explore the thriving ecosystem of New South Wales (NSW) real estate, it is crucial to equip yourself with the knowledge and tools that will guide your process.

The road to home ownership may seem daunting, but with the right guidance it can be a fulfilling experience. This significant life milestone requires careful consideration and planning. As you start this process, it is essential to research, plan and make informed decisions to achieve a successful purchase.

NSW first home buyer’s checklist

Our first home buyer’s checklist will give you the tools to navigate the process and legalities around purchasing a house in NSW. From calculating your borrowing power through to state-specific grants, this guide will give you the information you need to enjoy an informed buyer’s journey.

Scroll on to discover what steps you need to take to buy your first NSW home.

Calculating your home buying budget

NSW recently recorded the highest housing prices in Australia, making it a challenging landscape to purchase your first home. To begin your home buying journey, it is important to conduct a thorough assessment of your finances to determine your buying power. Your buying power gives you a rough price range to look for properties and understand how much financial help you are entitled to.

You can start this process by calculating your debt to income (DTI) ratio. The lower the DTI to apply for a home loan, the better. The figure is calculated by dividing your monthly expenses and debt by your pre-tax income.

DTI Ratio = (Total Monthly Expenses / Gross Monthly Income) x 100

Visiting a bank or mortgage lender can aid you with these calculations and guide you to getting pre approved for a home loan.

Understanding NSW first home buyer assistance schemes

If you’re buying or building a home for the first time in NSW, you could be eligible for financial help from the state government. NSW has three assistance programs to assist residents in buying their first home, that they intend to use to live in:

1.  First Home Assistance Scheme

Currently, first-time home buyers who purchase a property for $800,000 or less will not pay a transfer duty or pay a reduced rate for a property worth between $800,000-$1 million. These thresholds constantly change and you should speak to your conveyancer about the current thresholds.

2. First Home Owner (New Home) Grant

Residents building, buying a newly built home, or buying a substantially renovated property in NSW could be eligible for a $10,000 grant to use towards the purchase price.

3. Shared Equity Home Buyer Helper

This program is designed to aid key workers, single parents, older singles and survivors of family violence in making home ownership more achievable. NSW Government can contribute up to 40% of the purchase price, reducing the deposit required to as little as 2%.

Learn more about your eligibility here. (what does this link to? The NSW Revenue site?)

Obtaining legal advice

As a significant purchase, buying your first home can come with complex legalities. Before purchasing a property, it is important to consider hiring an expert to help you navigate contracts and paperwork.

A conveyancer can help you with deciphering the fine print from intricate reports and documents. They are professionals who understand the ins and outs of property sales and related laws. They ensure that all processes are followed when working with legally binding documents, saving you stress and money in the long run.

Some key areas conveyancers can help you with:

  • Auction advice
  • Contract review and explanation
  • Contract exchange
  • Lender communication
  • Stamp duty support
  • Settlement management
  • Settlement execution
  • Property transfer

Finding your first home

The type of house and location you want are all factors in purchasing your first home. It is important to consider the property market when entering the real estate market. Some ways to to find your dream property include:

  • Contacting a buyer’s agent in the area you’re searching for homes in
  • Utilising websites such as Domain and RealEstate to browse properties currently for sale

Inspecting a home

To avoid unexpected challenges and costs down the road, you should inspect the condition of a home before you buy it. In addition to inspecting a home by yourself, it is recommended to have building, pest and strata inspection reports done through a professional. You can organise these individually. If you’re working with a conveyancer, they can help you to organise necessary inspections.

Understanding sale methods

If you have found the property you want to make an offer on, there are a variety of avenues buyers and sellers can use. The way a house is sold is usually determined by the seller and their agent. The most common sale methods are:

Private Treaty

In NSW most offers and counter offers will be made through the Real Estate Agent. The price and terms of the deal are negotiated until both parties agree to a final price. Once an offer is accepted and the contract exchanged, there is a five day cooling-off period in which you can withdraw your offer at a cost of 0.25% of the purchase price, which can be expensive. You may be asked to waive your right to a cooling off period and this is acceptable provided always that the contract accurately reflects any conditions you may require. We recommend that you only sign the final contract for exchange after your qualified conveyancer has reviewed it. At NP Conveyancing we will take the time to review and explain the contract to you, and answer any questions you may have, before you sign the contract, ensuring that you understand the terms of the deal and are protected.


In NSW, you must register with the vendor’s agent to participate in an auction to receive a bidder’s number. The seller nominates a reserve price prior to the auction. If the bidding exceeds this figure, the property is sold at the fall of the hammer. If you are the successful bidder, you must sign the contract of sale and pay the deposit immediately. There are no cooling-off periods for auctions. For this reason it is imperative that you complete your due diligence and seek advice from qualified experts like your conveyancer and banker or broker prior to bidding at auction.

Navigating the NSW housing market as a first-time buyer

We understand the significance of buying your first home and are here to support you with expertise every step of the way. From understanding the intricacies of the NSW property market to navigating contracts, our team is committed to making your journey to your first home as seamless as possible.

Reach out to our conveyancing professionals today to prepare for purchasing your first home in NSW.

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