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If you can't buy, build

Drive-bys, late nights and scoping out the neighbourhood. Sound like you? You’re either a local crim, or you’re hunting a home. Either way, we’ve got some tips for you.

October 02, 2019 • 8 min read

Person standing on rock over ocean with torch at night

If you’re a crim

  1. Go directly to jail.

If you’re a house hunter

  1. Do not go to jail.
  2. Please read on.

Finding a home you love is difficult. Many stars need aligning before the property gods shine light onto your ideal abode. And often, our aspirations are bigger than our eyes (everyone can dream, right?). If you’ve been struggling with finding a perfect match, we’ve got some ideas to help refine your search. And, if you still can’t find one, we’ll talk about how to get started with building - so you can make your home, from scratch, the way you like it.

All paths to homeownership are toll roads. You’ll need to be ready to cover the various costs, like stamp duty and conveyancer’s fees, as well as any home loan application fees (unless you’re with Tiimely Own, because we don’t charge any lenders fees). As a rough guide, you may be paying between $995 and $3,825 with other lenders to purchase a home (excluding stamp duty), or between $195 and $525 to purchase with Tiimely Own.

Have you looked under the couch?

It’s important to be clear with yourself: what kind of property are you looking for? Are you searching for your first home, looking to downsize, or expand? Define your goal early to help guide your decisions.

Then, start looking at more specific criteria. How many bedrooms, bathrooms, and off-street parking spaces (if any) would you like? Do you dream of a butler’s pantry, or a cute city apartment with a balcony garden? Perhaps both? What do you need, and what would be nice to have?

Here’s a checklist of things to keep in mind when considering a property:

How close are you to:

  • transport links? Bus stops, train stations, cycling routes?
  • schools?
  • your grocer?
  • your friends/family?
  • public facilities/attractions (local parks, sport facilities, the beach etc.)?
  • major roads/noisy traffic?
  • your place of work?
  • cafés and restaurants?
  • convenience stores?
  • pharmacies?
  • health centres?

Does the street have:

  • the right lighting?
  • decent landscaping? Tree coverage?
  • public parking space?
  • well-kept houses?
  • wide or narrow driving lanes? Two-way or single-lane traffic?
  • thoroughfares?
  • noisy residents?

Is the suburb:

  • still developing?
  • undergoing urban renewal?
  • planned to be affected by any major projects/works?
  • expected to provide good capital growth/future rental yields?
  • affordable? E.g. council rates
  • in a natural disaster-prone area? E.g. prone to bushfires or flooding?
  • relatively safe? Check your state’s suburb crime statistics.

And then ask:

  • Are you after a detached or semi-detached home for the family, a cosy unit, or an inner-city apartment? Each type may be better suited to different lifestyles.
  • What title comes with the property? I.e., is it a Torrens Title property (another great South Australian invention) or managed as a strata?
  • Consider the size of the property and whether it will fit your needs and living situation. A small unit might not be right for raising a family or pet.
  • If you’re a self-described MasterChef, will the kitchen accommodate your 12am fondant frustrations?
  • If you’re a green thumb, look at the potential gardening space and whether you’ll have enough sunlight to grow your veggie patch.
  • Your indoor plants deserve love too. Does the interior receive enough natural sunlight?
  • Proximity to where you work. What is your commute going to be like and how is this likely to affect your expenses and wellbeing? Work from home? Lucky you!
  • Check the condition of the property, and consider a building inspection before you make any commitments. Termites and structural damage are not fun (trust me).
  • Do any bedrooms face west? These rooms will be the warmest all year round, especially through Summer.
  • What kind of utilities are available? Check the air conditioning, water pressure, the hot water system, natural gas availability and solar panels.
  • What other ongoing costs may be associated? Check council rates, the cost of utilities, and insurance costs.
  • Is it a fixer-upper? Will the property require any renovations before you move in? In one, five, ten years?
  • How much can you afford to borrow, and what is your borrowing power?

Searching online

These days, in case you didn’t know, it’s easiest to browse available properties online. Use the advanced search features on sites like and to drill down into property price, type, car spaces and land size, as well as more specific features like ducted vacuum systems and built-in wardrobes.

Still having trouble finding your dream home? It might be time to compromise. Search surrounding suburbs, and look at properties with smaller square metreage, or with fewer bedrooms. Try single, not double, garages or consider apartments with combined laundries and bathrooms. Backyard too small? Perhaps neighbourhood parks and community gardens can help you bridge the gap.


You’ve hunted high and low. Maybe your dream home doesn’t exist…yet.

You may have already considered building, and found it would take too long, be too stressful, or just too difficult. But, building a home can be a great alternative to purchasing, and the process of building isn’t as hard as some episodes of The Block would have you believe. Here are some great reasons to build:

Have it your way.

Customisation is key. The extra-deep drawers for the pots and pans; a laundry with plenty of benchtops and storage; the study nook under the stairs. Bring your long-desired home features to life by incorporating them into your build. Pick your own colours, materials, and fixtures. The result can be a home you love, built by – and for – you. And if this means a hidden room behind a bookcase, so be it. You do you.


By Veronica

Credit Assessment Team Lead

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