A $65k house deposit in 15 months
MELBOURNE woman Krystal Sagona is just weeks away from completing a lifelong dream - owning her own home.
For the past 15 months, the 34-year-old has been saving towards that ambitious goal, and is now on track to pull it off by January 2019.
Ms Sagona, who runs her own interior design business, Interior Flow, while studying part-time for her masters in art therapy, is on the hunt for a fixer-upper to live in for a year while renovating.
Her plan is to use her first property as a "stepping stone", either by flipping it and selling for a tidy profit or keeping it to use as equity on another, bigger home.
With a weekly income of $1500 - which is close to the national average before tax - Ms Sagona spends $2500 a month on all living expenses including rent and bills.
She has already saved $50,000 in around 15 months by buying groceries from markets instead of supermarkets, eating at home with family instead of dining out on weekends and simply being "too busy" to shop.
Ms Sagona has also made a voluntary superannuation contribution of $15,000, which she will withdraw and add to her deposit, and is expecting to add a further $60,000 via earnings from her business within the next few months.
She is looking for a home worth around $650,000, which will ensure she's not hit with excessive stamp duty.
The interior designer plans to buy somewhere close to the city - preferably in Coburg - and is looking for a run-down but structurally sound '60s-era home with a minimum of two large bedrooms and a decent backyard.
"It has been my goal for a while. I look at this home as a stepping stone to be able to put my interior designer stamp on and sell after living in it for one year to make a profit to move into a larger home or, depending on finances, keep and leverage off to purchase a bigger home," she told news.com.au.
"I've been doing a lot of research on where I want to buy but I'm based in Melbourne and we get free stamp duty up to $600,000, so I don't want to buy anything over the $650,000 mark because then I'd have to pay too much additional stamp duty."
As a business owner, Ms Sagona has also needed a larger deposit compared to other buyers and must also pay more in mortgage insurance.
Another strategy that has been a key to her homebuying plan has been enlisting the help of a financial adviser, who has shown her how to make the most out of the tax benefits available to small business owners.
"I'm a designer - I'm good with design, and I know how to spend money to do that. But as a designer I'm not good with finance and numbers, so I outsourced that and admitted I needed help," she said.
"It's about knowing what your skill set is, knowing what you are good at and what you are not and asking for help if you need it.
"Make sure you get the right advice - I think it's good to get three people's advice, and if it doesn't feel right, try someone else - don't just believe the first thing you hear."
Ms Sagona said it was essential to do your due diligence and read the fine print.
She said she had already invested a great deal of time in online research as well as attending auctions and open houses, but that the process had been "exciting" rather than stressful.
She said it was important for first homebuyers to be realistic about what they could afford.
"I don't want to overcapitalise too quickly and not be able to pay it back - I don't live on credit at the moment and I don't want to get myself into something I can't pay off," she said.
"We live in a throwaway society at the moment but it's good to be realistic about your goals and what you can and can't afford.
"There's no point trying to match what other people are doing if it's just going to make your life uncomfortable."
She's also clear about how to add value to the home and plans to tailor the property towards the demographic it's most likely to appeal to.
"I'll use my skills in design and project management to rip the bathroom out and make it look a million dollars, because bathrooms and kitchens sell properties," she said.
She has already decided on a "calming" colour scheme likely to lure future buyers.
"I want to make it appealing to the most amount of people to get the most bang for my buck, because when you present a property well and it feels good, people want it."
Have you recently bought your first home, or are you about to buy? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story.