Why your first property purchase is the most important

How can your first property possibly be the most important I hear you ask, but funnily enough it is.

A first property is your entry into the market and the beginning of your property story. Getting this purchase right can directly impact your accumulated wealth, living situation and disposable income down the track and therefore your future buying power.

More often than not, your first property is not your final property goal. You will most likely have plans to buy something now with the hope that you’ll be able to sell it in a few years for a profit so you can go on and buy another possibly more expensive property. Therefore, getting your first purchase right has a big impact on your property story.

How can you choose the right first property?

The first step is to think like an investor.  Good investors are good at cutting through the sales hype, removing emotion and using facts to guide their decisions.  They are looking for properties that will grow in value and will deliver a strong return when they are sold down the track.  These too should be objectives of first home buyers.

Location is without doubt the most important element to consider.  Having three or more of these elements may increase the chances of making a good first property decision.
•    Proximity to the city or beaches
•    Inner city with trendy cafes, restaurants and shopping centres
•    Nearby facilities like good schools, hospitals, parks and transport
•    Has the neighbouring suburb boomed as there may be a future ripple effect in the surrounding suburbs
•    Good public transport infrastructure
•    Prime locations of any city – located around the outskirts of the CBD or near beaches
•    Well positioned suburbs that may have been shunned by property buyers as run down and old

Doing your market analysis and how to read the signs

The second most important step is to thoroughly analyse the market. There are many resources you can tap into to access market data for different regions across Australia.  Sources such as CoreLogic RP Data, APM Price Finder, realestate.com.au or Residex will help you understand different property markets across each state and territory.  Additionally, most government websites provide community profiles that share information about council plans, development projects or building regulations that can help you understand the supply and demand of the area as well as offering data to refine your search.

From a local perspective, your local LJ Hooker office can provide you with an in-depth local market report detailing the strongest growth areas, most traded and fastest selling areas, the top performing local suburbs and a snapshot of houses and unit sales, median sale price, rental yield, days on market and more.  Understanding the local market is very important so make sure you contact your local LJ Hooker office – they live and breathe real estate in your local area and are a great source of valuable local market data.

When looking at the market data reports the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) recommends looking into various statistics like:

  • The median price: Not just the current figure, but also how it has fared over the previous 12 months. Also, how does it compare to surrounding suburbs? An area that is significantly cheaper than its neighbours can indicate imminent growth.
  • Recent sales: Studying the most recent transactions will give you the most up-to-date information on prices in the area.
  • Vacancy rates: High vacancy rates can indicate a less desirable area, which could make it harder to sell in the future
  • Future changes: If there are any scheduled or proposed developments in the area, you need to know about them. A new school or refurbished amenities could be beneficial to the area’s value, for instance, while rezoning or commercial construction could be harmful.
  • Expert opinions: There are a number of professionals that offer tips on up-and-coming suburbs via blogs and market reports. Just be wary of any potential biases they might have.

Get a feel of the area

While this can all be achieved from the comfort of your computer chair, ASIC discourages buying in a market that you’re unfamiliar with.

Therefore, you should wear out some of your shoe leather and view the suburb in person and talk to a few locals.  By walking through the area and attending a few open homes, you will be able to get an idea of the people that live there and what the properties are like.

If you’re looking at buying a house, wander the street and see if anyone is out cleaning the car or watering the garden.  Ask them what the area is like, how long they have lived there, what they like about the neighbourhood and what they don’t.  What is the noise like during the day and night and any other questions you may have?  You may even be able to find out why the seller is moving and if there are any developments that might impact the value of properties in the immediate area.

If you’re looking at buying an apartment, consider knocking on a few doors on either side of the apartment and ask them similar questions, or if that seems a bit scary visit the nearest café and ask them what the area is like – they are often a great source of local gossip and community knowledge.

It is equally important to consider suburbs that are within the zones of high-performing schools and suburbs with good public transport. The most recent Census revealed that more than 71 per cent of households are families, which means it could make sense to buy a property in an area that will appeal to the vast majority of Australians when you go to sell it down the track!

Infrastructure and Development

Major council developments and infrastructure projects may seem like a good thing at first glance, but it is important to determine whether this infrastructure boom is a result of planned growth in the area, or whether the growth has already happened and the infrastructure is just catching up.

The local council is responsible for planning and development including zoning and re-zoning so they are a great source of information.  So head up to the council and see what you can find out.

Property listings

Given the majority of properties are promoted on-line this is a good a place to research the market. Head to realestate.com.au, domain.com.au or ljhooker.com.au and review the current property listings and recently sold listings in the suburb/areas you are interested in.  This will help give you a feel for the local market, how many properties broadly fit your needs, what sort of prices they are selling for and what has been sold recently.

Speak to a real estate expert

Your local LJ Hooker real estate agents live and breathe real estate in your area and are a great source of insider knowledge – much of which you wouldn’t discover alone, so make sure you contact them and ask about the local market.


Selling? How to prepare your home for photos

Selling your home can take a lot of effort. Between the spring clean, sprucing up the outdoors and clearing out all of your clutter. However, it’s important to remember that most people’s first impression of your home will not be up close and personal it will be through the photographs you present in listings. To really put your home a cut above the competition, it’s vital to capture your home’s best side on film. Here’s how to get started on making your home a superstar model!

However, it’s important to remember that most people’s first impression of your home will not be up close and personal, it will be through the photographs you present in listings. To really put your home a cut above the competition, it’s vital to capture your home’s best side on film. One of the best ways to get this done is to hire a professional photographer to really make your home look like a star.

Get a professional

While it can seem easy to just grab your old digital camera and take a few quick snaps to put up for your listing, a little more effort will go a long way. Hiring a seasoned home photographer will provide a wealth of options for styles of lens and shot, as well as someone who has a trained eye for the best side your home has to offer.

This means you can get crisp, clear, stunning imagery right through your photoset. A higher-quality set of photos is more likely to attract buyers, and is a must when selling.

Good lighting

One of the most important factors in a great home photograph is light. Your real estate photographer will be able to help here, but make sure all the blinds, shutters and curtains are open to bring in as much natural light as possible.  Plus turn on all the lights in your home to ensure your property is flooded with as much light as can be.  Of course make sure your windows are clean.

A good photographer should shoot your rooms when the light is at its brightest, and won’t let the shots become oversaturated. Doing it yourself, you can run this risk – an unsure photographer may end up with photos where the sunlight masks your home’s best features! This is why it’s important to get a professional. Who knows how much value you could add to the sale?

Add some plant life

Fresh green plants add a feeling of life and vitality to interior photos.  Make sure any dead leaves are removed and large leaves dusted.   If you don’t have any plants consider buying a pot plant to decorate the indoors as they help make the photos more appealing and can be used for the duration of the marketing campaign as they look at open for inspections too.

Clear the mess

Even the best camera won’t sell your home if you haven’t organized the rooms for maximum appeal. Take action before a photoshoot to let as much space flow through your home as possible – move surplus furniture and clutter, and make sure mirrors aren’t in places that could cause awkward reflections in photos.


Clear the clutter from any benches to help create the feeling of space. It is OK to leave one to two nice appliances on the bench, but make sure the smaller appliances and those that are old are put away.


Hide toiletries and ensure the bathroom/s look fresh.  Adding some nice soap, a small flowering plant and perhaps a candle is all that should be on display on the bathroom vanity.  Make sure there are fresh plump towels, preferably white, a new toilet roll and that the loo seat is down. Pull open the shower curtain or make sure the glass shower screen is sparkling clean.


Photos seem to pick up every detail and every imperfection, so make sure you spend some time straightening your bed covers and tucking them in, fluffing up the pillows, and ensure all clutter and personal items are removed from the bedside tables. A bedside light with a small vase or indoor plant is enough to create interest in the photo without cluttering the space.

Clear the clutter

Walk around your property with fresh eyes and make sure you have removed all items that are cluttering up the home.  Ensure there are no shoes in the hallway, no old fruit in a fruit bowl, no mail, newspapers or paperwork piled up, nothing on the fridge door including youe kids art work, remote controls are out of sight, the majority of kids toys are hidden, and any sign of your pet such as food bowls, beds or litter boxes are removed

Highlight special features

If you have certain spaces that you want to highlight make sure you tell your photographer.  For instance, you may want a feature shot of your beautiful display shelves, a fire place or fire pit, (but make sure it is lit or that the photographer photoshops in a fire).  Perhaps you want to feature your hot tub or pool make – just make sure they are sparkling clean.  Presenting these special features in the right way could help seal the deal with potential buyers.

Most people will see your home for the first time in a listing. By treating your home like a model for these photos, you’ll boost the number of people coming to the open home.