Investing in property is an enterprise that can take a lot of research, advice and sometimes even trial and error to get off the ground. And, most importantly, it takes money. There are many costs involved when it comes to buying a property, one of which is the initial deposit you’ll need to put down. Generally, most buyers aim to save or access a deposit of 10% of the purchase price, although a deposit of 20% is ideal if you want to avoid lenders mortgage insurance (LMI).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison recently outlined a First Home Loan Deposit Scheme that could help some buyers get their property goals off the ground with a deposit as low as just 5%. While the plan is intended to help first home buyers enter the property market, not investors, this could be a step towards rentvesting for those who are keen to leverage the scheme. For many, the prospect of saving a property deposit is daunting and is something they focus on once they are closer to wanting to buy. But to give yourself the best chance of growing the biggest possible deposit, you should ideally start planning and saving at least two years before you hope to buy.
This would mean you could save a greater amount and wouldn’t need to borrow as much from a bank or lender, which would serve you well in the current climate in which many investors are hampered by strict lending conditions.
It would also increase your borrowing power and expand your loan options by allowing you to demonstrate a positive savings habit to potential lenders. In addition, if you could avoid having to pay the fee associated with LMI – which is a insurance policy that protects the lender in case of default – you could stand to save thousands of dollars.
For many investors-to-be, saving a property deposit can be a difficult prospect, especially if you find that you run out of money before you run out of month as it is. But with our tips for saving, you could be well on your way to landing your first investment property sooner rather than later.
1. Get budgeting
Budgeting sounds like the obvious tip – and it is. However, clear, strategic budgeting is about much more than simply saying you will put ‘X’ amount into your deposit savings every pay period. Instead, see if you can work out a budget that includes paying yourself a regular amount – enough to cover your essential bills, plus a discretionary spending allowance. You might find that it leaves you with more to set aside than your initial ‘X’ savings amount. To boost this value, look for opportunities to skim costs, such as by cooking more and eating out less. Go on a spending freeze for a month, when you don’t spend a cent on anything unless it’s absolutely necessary. Opt for Netflix and homemade comfort food rather than going out for dinner and a movie. In other words, make a few small sacrifices now to reap the rewards later.
2. Reduce your rent
This can be one of the most effective ways to save for a property deposit, as paying rent can take up a huge chunk of your earnings each month. While it’s not feasible in every situation, there are various ways to reduce rent, such as by housesharing, moving back in with your parents, or moving to a cheaper location. It might be slightly painful in the short term, but keep your eye on the prize: property ownership awaits.
3. Consolidate debts and credit cards
Consolidating debts and credit cards can reduce your repayments and interest, which frees up cash that can be redeployed into your savings account. Not only that, but the less debts you have, the more favourably your bank will look upon your home loan application. Banks offer debt consolidation or personal loans that allow you to combine these payments into one; or you can just make a plan to carve through your debts and smash it as swiftly as possible.
4. Simplify your life
Simplifying sounds… simplistic, but foregoing some of the little things will also help you save money. For instance, if you spend $100 over the course of the week on buying beverages – a coffee on the way to work or a beer at the pub after you’ve knocked off – then that’s $5,000 you’ve frittered away in a year alone. For every meal out that you would have bought, put that money into your savings. Work out what other things you can cut back on, and put the money not spent into your savings. Do you use your gym membership, for instance? Could you use the exercise equipment in a park instead, or do you have equipment at home? Remember, cutting back to save a deposit doesn’t mean you have to live a completely spartan lifestyle, but it will be worth it when you reach your end goal.
5. Be a mindful consumer
Really think about your usage of fans, heaters and air conditioning throughout your home – energy bills can chew through thousands of dollars per year, and being smart about your consumption could see you make some significant savings. Could you hang your clothes out to dry instead of using a dryer, and wait to do your laundry when the load is full instead of in smaller batches?
6. Access the First Home Owner Grant
If this is your first home, you may be eligible for the First Home Owner Grant – however, there are conditions to be met, depending on the state or territory in which you intend to purchase the home, and the price of the property. Requirements vary, but generally you need to be a permanent resident or a citizen of Australia, and intend to buy the property as an individual and not as a corporation or trust. The applicant must live in the property as their principal place of residence within 12 months of the purchase, and remain there for at least 12 months.
7. Seek support
Some of the ways that family could help you get a leg up on the property ladder include lending or gifting money towards a deposit, or agreeing to go guarantor on the loan (using a proportion of the equity in their own home or investment property towards your property loan). As guarantor, they also become responsible for making loan repayments in case you are unable to do so; thus, you become a less risky prospect for a lender. The best way for this situation to work is when there is a win-win for both parties – for instance, if your parents provide a 20% deposit, then they retain 20% of the property’s value. Look for ways to exchange value, remembering that it might not always be monetary.
Applying these tips and learning how to save will not only help you get started in property investment but could also result in some important lifestyle changes that could benefit you in the long run. Not only will you be able to work towards saving a deposit but you’ll also be ready for a rainy financial day.