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The real cost of buying a home

This article is part of a fictional case study series following "Sarah", a typical first home buyer in Victoria. Read each article to follow "Sarah" through a variety of articles exploring issues related to buying a home.

Finally, Sarah was ready to buy a home. She even found a couple of flats that she put some offers on.

But she quickly found out that paying your deposit isn’t the only big expenditure you’re going to make. In fact, moving in and getting the place ready has a few costs of its own. Being prepared for those will make your buying – and moving – experience much better overall.

Sarah experienced a few of these costs first-hand when she started moving in to her home. After she paid the deposit, here’s the list of things her real estate agent provided to get her ready:

  • Building and pest inspection. It makes sense to get this done before you pay a deposit, though you don't have to. This may cost a few hundred dollars.
  • Stamp duty. Paying stamp duty is one of the biggest costs you'll have as a home owner. If you're a first home buyer you may be eligible for some concessions. The stamp duty rate changes based on a number of factors, but expect to pay in the thousands of dollars.
  • Loan application/establishment fees. Though some banks (like Bank First) may waive an application fee, you may be expected to pay a fee to apply for your home loan. If your application is successful, you may also need to pay a home loan establishment fee. These can range up to $1000.
  • Conveyancing costs. Preparing all that paperwork takes time and effort. You’ll probably pay more than $1,000 for this.
  • Building insurance. You don’t want a house with no insurance, so you’ll need to pay this. Anywhere from several hundred dollars to above $1,000.
  • Is there anything that needs to be urgently fixed before you can move in? Then add that to the list. Small repairs like door knobs and light fixtures can be under $100, but if your bathroom or kitchen needs major repairs, expect to spend thousands getting it ready.
  • Moving costs. If you’re getting a few buddies and a truck, then moving may only cost a few hundred dollars. On the other hand, hiring a moving company can be well above $1,000 depending on the amount of stuff you have.
  • Want the place freshly painted before you move in? Doing it yourself will just cost the amount of the pain – in the $100s – but hiring a professional can cost several hundred or above $1,000.

You can clearly see how a few costs tend to add up, and these aren’t even included in your deposit! Make the right choice by adding these into your budget straight away.


Sarah didn't realise there were so many costs she had to consider before buying a home! Thankfully she knows about them now, so she can prepare.

Home First
Home First