Bendigo Bank customers share how they took the keys to a home of their own as first home buyers prepare for FHLDS round two
With a new financial year just days away, thousands of eligible first home buyers across the country are eagerly anticipating the opening of the second round of the Federal government's First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) scheduled to kick off on July 1 with 10,000 new places coming online.
The Scheme's first 10,000 places - released on 1 January 2020 - showed strong demand for the program and as one of 27 participating lenders, Bendigo Bank helped hundreds of Australians finally realise their dream of home ownership.
According to NHFIC data, round one of the Scheme was most popular with first home buyers under 30 years of age on middle incomes.
As COVID-19 brings about new ways of flexible working and with a renewed focus on housing affordability and lifestyle in Australia's regions, applications for the second round are expected to be keenly sought despite the uncertainty of the impact of COVID-19 on the housing market.
First home buyer Michael Harris bought his first property in Campbelltown, Greater Western Sydney in February 2020 on the day of his 28th birthday. Michael had been actively in the market for a property for about three or four years.
"As a single income, first home buyer, it was very challenging to get a foot onto the property ladder. I'd been saving for about two or three years with a view to possibly purchasing in a few more years, but when I learned about the FHLDS, I was keen to get involved.
"Unfortunately, I didn't secure a place in the first round of offers by the major banks, but once I found Bendigo Bank would also be offering places on the Scheme, I decided to approach the team at nearby Picton & District Community Bank Branch.
"As a new customer, being offered a place on the Scheme felt like winning the lottery as it gave me a great opportunity to finally break into the market on my own affordable terms. Once I was accepted onto the Scheme, I quickly found a two-bedroom unit in the heart of Campbelltown that I really liked and put in an offer.
"Luckily, the vendor was after a quick sale, so it all fell into place really quickly. I've been here about five months and I'm loving it. It's a great feeling to finally own my own place", Mr Harris concluded.
Richard Fennell, Executive Consumer Banking, Bendigo Bank outlined what potential First Home Buyers can expect this time around.
"Each of the customer case studies we looked at showed that with a little extra help from the FHLDS, once they started looking seriously, they surprised themselves at what they could buy and most importantly, where they could buy their first home.
"The dream of home ownership is achievable. A common factor between them was that these buyers were ambitious young adults who all sought space. They managed to purchase a bigger or better property in a more favourable location than they originally thought was possible - and in some cases, the mortgage repayments were about the same as the properties they were formerly renting.
"We found for many of our first home buyers, the FHLDS was the difference between being able to buy now and waiting another couple of years to save more for their deposit. The scheme also allows these customers to avoid having to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance, which would normally be the case for borrowers with a deposit of less than 20% of the property value", Mr Fennell concluded.
In support of the Scheme and Bendigo Bank's commitment to its customers, the Bank will not charge eligible customers higher interest rates than equivalent customers outside of the Scheme.
Under the Scheme, eligible borrowers will also be able to access the assistance in conjunction with other government programs such as the First Home Super Saver Scheme, state and territory First Home-Owner Grants and stamp duty concessions.
The Bank will start receiving applications from 1 July 2020.
Interested First Home Loan Deposit Scheme applicants can contact the Bank on 1300 024 701 or visit www.nhfic.gov.au/what-we-do/fhlds/eligibility/ for more information.
Maddie’s Sunny Surprise - Maddison Mikelat, Dakabin, Qld
First home buyer Maddison Mikelat, 27, from Dakabin, a pleasant suburb North of Brisbane had been looking for a house for around 12 months. The introduction of the FHLDS saw her more determined than ever to buy her own home and once she got serious, it was only a couple of months before she signed on the dotted line and was handed the keys to her three bedroom home, just 30 minutes by train to Brisbane.
Maddie had heard about the FHLDS online and in the news and says it was definitely the trigger she needed to apply and to start searching seriously, concluding that she wouldn’t have been able to buy for another five years if it wasn’t for the FHLDS scheme - and certainly not where she ultimately ended up buying.
She didn’t expect to be able to buy in Dakabin and was pleasantly surprised when she found she could stretch her purchasing power to a home of this size with a garage and lovely sunny easy-care garden, entertainment area and new kitchen and bathrooms.
Maddie had thought about a townhouse as a backstop but didn’t want to pay body corporate fees so was very pleased to finally end up buying a house. The mortgage repayments are about the same as if she was to rent her property, but the bonus is that she is building equity all the time and will eventually own it outright.
And Maddison’s advice to anyone sitting on the fence wondering if they should buy?
“Have a chat with a bank if you are serious about wanting to buy your own home. Why waste your money renting? I ended up going with Bendigo Bank, mainly because they were the 5th largest bank. I was pleased dealing with them and very nervous at my first meeting with the bank, but it was great. Everyone I dealt with was really friendly and helpful”.
Life’s a Beach - William Wykes, Coronet Bay, Victoria
25-year-old Lang Lang native, Willian Wykes, recently purchased his first home in nearby Coronet Bay, a small Victorian town situated 114 kilometres south-east of Melbourne, on the eastern shore of Western Port Bay.
A Bendigo Bank customer all his life, William began saving to buy his first property in 2019 and when he was offered a place on the Bank’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme (FHLDS) - an Australian Government initiative to support eligible first home buyers purchase their first home sooner - he jumped at the opportunity.
“Ever since finishing Uni I had been actively saving in the hope of eventually buying my own place, but in mid-2019, after a chat with the team at Lang Lang Community Bank Branch, I began to take saving more seriously. Late last year, I heard about the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme through the Bank and once they confirmed my eligibility, I was up and running.
“I’ve been a Bendigo Bank customer all my life and I never considered another mortgage provider mainly because I like the idea of being able to call into the Branch to chat through any issues I may have with someone who knows me and my particular situation.
“When choosing where to live, the three key things for me were proximity to family, work and the beach. Coronet Bay ticked all the boxes and once I found a place I really liked - I just went for it!
“The team at the Lang Lang Community Bank were a great help throughout and I don’t think I could have got it all organised without their expertise. Qualifying for the FHLDS was a huge bonus and the Bank made the whole process really easy from start to finish.”
Second Time Lucky - Michael Harris, Campbelltown, New South Wales
First home buyer Michael Harris bought his first property in Campbelltown, Greater Western Sydney, in February 2020.
Purchased on the day of his 28th birthday, Michael had been actively in the market for a property for about three or four years.
“As a single income, first home buyer, it was very challenging to get on the property ladder. I had been saving for about two or three years with a view to possibly purchasing in a few more years, but when I learned about the FHLDS, I was keen to get involved.
“Unfortunately I didn’t manage to secure a place in the first round of offers by the major banks, but once I found out Bendigo Bank would also be offering places on the Scheme, I decided to approach the team at the nearby Picton & District Community Bank Branch.
A fast game’s a good game
“As a new customer to the Bank, being offered a place on the Scheme felt like winning the lottery as it gave me a great opportunity to finally break into the market on my own, affordable terms. Once I was accepted on to the Scheme, I quickly found a two-bedroom unit in the heart of Campbelltown I really liked and put in an offer. Luckily, the vendor was after a quick sale, so it all fell into place really quickly. I’ve been here about three months and I’m loving it - it’s a great feeling to finally own your own place.
“My advice for other first home buyers out there is to do your due diligence. Get advice from a whole host of different property professionals such as mortgage brokers, wealth management coaches, property accountants, buyer’s agents and real estate agents. Be wary about well-meaning advice from family and friends – it’s crucial to do your own research. And once you settle on your mortgage provider, be sure they know what you want and what you don’t want.
“My hat goes off to the team at the Picton & District Community Bank. They helped me so much from beginning to end and always kept me in the loop. I was very happy with the customer service provided and I’ll definitely be sticking around as a Bendigo Bank customer.”
Bigger is Better - Blaise Menzies-White, Belmont, Victoria
First home buyer Blaise Menzies-White bought his house in March 2020, following years of renting with his brother and friends.
The 26-year-old plumber and comedian from Belmont, Victoria had long dreamed of buying his own home, but realised in September 2019 he needed to save even harder to turn his dream of home ownership into a reality.
With a deposit saved, Menzies-White visited Bendigo Bank to seek loan approval, and throughout the process, he was introduced to the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, relieving his parents of their offer to be his guarantor.
“That’s what made it possible for me to buy my first home,” Mr Menzies-White said. “It was the difference between buying right now and waiting another couple of years to save the $20,000-$30,000 extra I would have needed to make the minimum deposit.
“I had looked at other banks, but I found it really easy to work with Bendigo Bank staff to get the loan. It was human interaction all the way, I didn’t have to deal with call centres, or people I didn’t know – they just made it an easy, convenient and personal experience and were so much nicer to deal with.”
Menzies-White had a laundry list of what he was looking for in a property, but there was one criterion he wasn’t willing to compromise.
“Space. I wanted at least three bedrooms and a decent sized backyard so I can entertain and perhaps subdivide the property in years to come.”
And space is what Menzies-White got. The sole owner moved into his 700sq/m home in late March amid the unfolding events relating to COVID-19, which strengthened his decision to purchase a spacious property.
“COVID-19 has been really stressful for so many people. I think people are going to want more space in everything, when they eat out, go out and perhaps also in how they live. Shoebox style apartments in cities may not be as popular that they once were for the fear of germs and catching disease.
“I’m very lucky that I have a property with a lot of space, that I was able to purchase before COVID-19, that I am still employed, and that my friends live with me to help pay the mortgage.”
Menzies-White has some important advice for prospective first home buyers.
“Get all of your paperwork in order, it makes it easier in the long run to get your loan approved and watch what you spend. It’s nice to shout all your mates a few rounds of beers on a Saturday night, but it won’t help you to save for the thing you really want - to own your own home.”
Read about the First home loan deposit scheme.