Have you made a New Year’s resolution to buy your own home in 2014?

HomeStart’s John Oliver shares his tips on how to reach your goal sooner.

DEFINE your goal. Work out if you want to buy an established home or build as this will establish time lines and help you set a budget.

Also, consider where you want to live, the costs involved in the purchase, assistance that’s available through government grants and your finance options.

Doing your homework upfront will enable you to put in place a clear strategy to achieve your goal sooner.

BE realistic. Understanding what you can afford in the area you want to live will save you a significant amount of time and effort when looking for potential properties.

Divide the home’s features into essential and non-essential elements that will enable you to establish what you’re willing to compromise on.

This is similar to a pros and cons list and will help distinguish between needs and wants.

SET a savings target. Understand the upfront costs like stamp duty and Lenders Mortgage Insurance plus your deposit.

Have a set amount automatically transferred into a savings account from your pay to help you instill the discipline required to meet mortgage repayments.

TAKE control of your spending. Track your spending habits to understand where you can make savings. In particular, look at how much of your spending is non-essential and then work to minimise this expenditure.

BE willing to make some sacrifices. Reducing the amount you spend on activities such as socialising and eating out will help you reach your goal sooner.

The short-term pain will be far outweighed by the benefits you derive from being a homeowner. 

UNDERSTAND the full costs involved in the purchase. Whether you’re buying established or building, there could be many ‘extra’ costs involved in the purchase.

Doing your homework to understand them will mean you’re better able to head-off any potential issues down the track.

Talk to family and friends who have recently gone through the process and read the fine print in all your paperwork.

RESEARCH your finance options thoroughly. Financing your home purchase is one of the most important parts of the process and where you can save a significant amount of money.

There are literally thousands of home loan options available so make sure you shop around, get to know the different products and select one that’s most suited to your circumstances.

SEEK advice. If you don’t understand something or need a second opinion, don’t be afraid to ask. Research independent industry bodies like the Real Estate Institute of South Australia (REISA) and the Housing Industry Association (HIA).

Some organisations like HomeStart run home buyer information seminars, so keep a watch out for those as well.