The Ultimate First Home Buyer’s Guide with Victoria Devine

VICTORIA DEVINE’s book, Property With She’s On the Money, is full of practical advice, innovative ideas and real-life stories from members of the ‘She’s on the Money’ community who have achieved their home ownership goals. Here Victoria gives us a strategy for getting into the market.

Real-world strategies for buying property


Now that you have a realistic goal, you’re in a great position to start taking active steps towards achieving it. It will require some strategic moves and a bit of hard yakka, but you’ve got this!

This is where we tune into SOTM-savvy tactics and get to work. While the boomers may have got in early and stockpiled their wealth into quarter-acre blocks, we millennials have fresh, new ways of thinking and approaching property that they wouldn’t dare try. I’ll go through these in this chapter and also outline some tried-and-true methods to give you a bunch of tools, tips and tricks to build out an approach that works for you.

There are ways and means for all us millennials, no matter whether single or loved-up, to get our feet in the door. We just have to be smart and open-minded in our approach.



co-ownership: purchasing a property together with friend/s or family.

exchanging contracts: th is the moment a house sale becomes legal. The buyer and seller exchange signed contracts (which typically also requiresthat the buyer pays a deposit, e.g. 10 per cent). From that moment, the sale becomes binding – conditional upon all the terms specified in the contract.

first home buyer schemes: there are several state-based and federal government assistance schemes to help first home buyers get their first home.

LMI – lender’s mortgage insurance: deposits less than 20 per cent of the purchase price are generally charged LMI to cover the risk of defaulting. This can be reduced with some first home buyer schemes.

rentvesting: purchasing an affordable investment property elsewhere, while continuing to rent in the city to maintain one’s currentjob and lifestyle.

tiny home: smaller-than-normal dwellings (sometimes mobile) – usually a single room combining living, dining, sleeping, along with a separate bathroom.

vendor: the person selling the property.


At the end of the day, what you can buy comes down to what you can afford – both by way of deposit and ongoing home loan repayments, as well as the costs of ongoingfees, maintenance and upkeep. For many on single incomes, even the lowest-priced housing close to our work and lifestyle seem completely out of reach. So, what do we do then?


First home buyer government schemes

Aware of the difficulties Australians face in getting into the prop­ erty market, the Australian Government has various schemes in place to assist first home buyers. The details of these change over time, so it’s worth getting in touch with a specialist – mortgage brokers are great – to ensure you’re up to speed with the latest when it comes time for you to buy.

At the time of writing, both the federal and state/territory governments have a range of first home buyer assistance grants and financial support schemes in place. Since these are regularly updated and come with a slew of eligibility requirements, we’ll touch on them briefly here, just to give you an idea of what assistance you may be able to access, but it’s important to jump online and/or speak to an expert to nut out the finer details as theypertain to you at the time you’re ready to buy. A good starting point is the government website.


State and territory first home buyer grants and schemes

Each Australian state and territory has its own first home buyer assistance packages, withsome states offering multiple pathways. You’ll need to review each in detail depending on your needs and where you live. Since these schemes typically require its recipient to live in the home that they’ve bought, the scheme applies to the state/territory in which theproperty is located.

The eligibility criteria vary state by state; however, similar guidelines apply. Depending on which grant or scheme you opt into, a first home buyer eligible home may be a new or estab­ lished house, home unit, flat or other type of self-contained fixed dwelling, and insome locations, land. Some are grants, some are schemes that waive or reduce stamp duty and/or LMI.

Most applications for these schemes must be made through your lender, not directly with the government, with limited places released at the start of each new financial year.Once you have taken up an offer, you must generally close the deal within a set timeframe or forfeit your place – usually within three months or so. As such, it pays to begin these conversations early to ensure you can take advantage of the schemes and that the timings work in your favour.


Typically, the following requirements apply:
  • You must never have owned property in Australia before.
  • This must be the first time you’ve applied for the scheme.
  • You must be an Australian citizen or permanent
  • You must be an individual (not a company or trust).
  • Pricing limits apply – anywhere between $650,000 and $7 million.
  • You must move in within six to twelve months of buying and live there for at least six months.


Under many schemes the following types of properties are ineligible:
  • Primary production
  • Land used for business or a business premises.
  • Holiday homes.


Federal schemes

At the federal level, there are several policies and grants aimed at helping first home buyers with specific eligibility criteria for each policy. Once again, these are subject to change, so while I’ll outline some current options below, please review the schemes and speak to an expert when the time comes for you to secure a mortgage.

First Home Buyer Guarantee (FHBG). This allows eligible first home buyers to get ahome loan with just a 5 per cent deposit and avoid the extra cost of LMI while accessing an interest rate as if you were paying a 20 per cent deposit.

Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee (RFHBG). This aims to support eligible first home buyers to purchase a home in a regional area. Approved property types includeexisting houses, townhouses or apartments, house and land packages, land with a separatecontract to build a home, and off-the-plan apartments or townhouses. The scheme enablesan eligible home buyer to purchase a home with as little as 5 per cent deposit without payingLMI.

Family Home Guarantee (FHG). This aims to support eligible single parents with at least one dependent child to buy a home, whether that single parent is a first home buyer or a previous homeowner. The FHG enables an eligible home buyer to purchase a home with as little as 2 per cent deposit without paying LMI.

First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSS). Another helpful option for some first homebuyers, this policy allows eligible buyers to make extra contributions to their super funds ($15,000 a year, up to a maximum of $50,000) and later withdraw them to use towards ahouse deposit. The benefit of accruing savings within super is that they are taxed at 15 percent instead of at your usual tax rate.

Other government support

What if you’re not a first home buyer? Some states and territories offer additional help for anyone looking to buy property. It pays to conduct your own research, both online and by speaking to property professionals. Refer to the Appendix for links to helpful websites.



Victoria Devine is transforming the way millennials think about money. With a background in behavioural psychology and two chart-topping podcasts, She’s on the Money and The Property Playbook, Victoria understands what makes her generation tick and knows how to make hard-to-understand concepts fun, fresh and relatable.

Now retired as an award-winning financial adviser, Victoria is a co-director and founder of Zella Money, an award-winning mortgage broking business, and a financial columnist for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald. She has been a guest speaker at events and featured in publications such as The Financial Standard, Vogue, ABC News, RMIT Future of Financial Planning, Mamamia, Ellemagazine, Yahoo Finance and many more. She was also named on the Forbes30 Under 30 Asia list for 2021.

If you can’t find her, chances are she’s at home with an oat latte in one hand and her Old English sheepadoodle, Lucy, in the other.

Visit She’s on the Money website

Author: Victoria Divine


Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780143778776

RRP: $32.99

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