When buying your first home it can be tricky to figure out what you need to do when - it is your first time after all! Avoid the confusion and check out our First Home Buyer's Timeline below. To make things even easier we have split the timeline into three key stages:


  • Planning
  • Buying
  • Moving


This timeline is designed to give you a general idea of what you should consider doing at different points in the home buying process, so take the parts that are relevant to you and your home buying journey.


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Start Saving For Your Deposit

Whether you're a first home buyer or a seasoned investor you need to have a deposit to lend with a bank. The earlier you start saving the sooner you'll reach your goal - and the more money you'll have. There are a few steps you should look at when saving a deposit, starting with figuring out around how much you'll need. Once you have a goal in mind you can then:

  • Add Up Your Existing Savings
  • Figure Out What Grants You're Eligible For​
  • Set Your Savings Goal
  • Open a Savings Account
  • Create a budget

Once you've worked your way through this list you should be in a great place to start saving for your deposit. To make things as easy for you as possible a break down of each of these steps can be found here.

Up Your KiwiSaver Contributions

One way you can help set yourself up for for a strong deposit is by increasing your KiwiSaver contibutions in the lead up to buying your first home. You can change the percentage you contribute at any time, allowing you to increase your contributions while saving for a deposit and put put it back down once you have bought your home. To help figure out whether this is the right approach for you give the friendly team at Lifestages KiwiSaver a call on 0800 727 2265 - they're here to help!

Review Your Progress

Now that you've reached the halfway mark it's a good idea to review your savings and make sure you're on track to achieve your deposit goal.

Have you managed to stick to your plan, or have you had a few bumps along the way? If you aren't quite where you'd like to be don't frett, take another look at our Saving a Deposit page and work your way through the steps again. You might just need to make a few small adjustments to get back on track, or it may be that you're in a better postion than you thought!

Book a Meeting with the Bank

Booking a meeting with SBS is quick and easy - you can either drop in to your nearest SBS Bank branch or phone our helpful Contact Centre team on 0800 727 2265. These meetings can either take place in person if you live close to a branch, or via a call for your convenience. Because there are lots of first home buyers wanting to meet with the Bank it is good to try and arrange this around a month in advanced to make sure you give plenty of notice for an appointment.

Gather Your Documents

Once you have a date and time for your meeting it's time to gather your documents. Lenders need access to a few different bits and pieces to help determine whether you are able to be pre-approved, including:

  • Proof of Citizenship or Permanent Residency

  • Proof of income

  • Bank Statements

  • Proof of Your Deposit

  • A Break Down of Your Spending

For a full list of the items you should bring along, check out our pre-approval checklist here.

Meet With Your Lender

Take a deep breath, you’ve got this!

Make sure you take all the documents you've collected along with you. The team may still ask you for more information to help assess whether you meet the criteria for preapproval, but if you've gathered all the information above you'll be off to a great start.

Our SBS Banking Specialists are especially trained to help First Home Buyers, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand – there are no stupid questions when you’re a first home buyer!

Once the Bank has collected and reviewed all your information they will get in touch to let you know whether you have been successful in gaining pre-approval. If you have been givem pre-approval they will let you know exactly how much you can borrow so you can begin the next step of the home buying process...house hunting!



Figure Out What You Want

Once you know how much you can borrow, its time to figure out what you are looking for in a home.

It's important to have an think about what you want, what you need, and what you are willing to compromise on before you start house hunting. It might be that you need a house that has three bedrooms, or that you want to live within a certain area. Maybe you're happy with a home that's a little more dated as long as it has a strong foundation - did someone say home reno?!

If you are buying a home with someone else it's important that you have this discussion together to make sure that you are both on the same page.

It's also imporant to be realistic about what you can afford - while a home cinema and a backyard pool would be awesome it may be just a little out of your price range as a first home buyer (maybe someday though!).

Check Listings Online and In the Paper

These days there are plenty of places that homes are listed, from websites, to your local paper, and outside of real estate agents offices.

Make sure you check out a range of sites and sources to ensure you are getting a full view of all the houses on the market. You don't want to miss your dream house!


Talk to Real Estate Agents

Real Estate Agents are a great resource when looking for a home - after all, they know the process inside and out!

Whether you're chatting to them at an open home, or want to approach some directly to see if they have something that might suit you, they are usually happy to help first home buyers through the process of buying a home.

To help answer some of the most common questions first home buyers have for Real Estate Agents (and make this step even easier!) we spoke to a Real Estate Agent about the things first home buyers should know when house hunting here.


Visit Open Homes

Once you've started to find properties that you're interested in it's time to start visiting open homes!

When going to open homes it is important to take anyone that is involved in the decision making process, such as a partner or spouse, so you can both view the property. You might also consider taking along friends or family members that have previously bought a home, as they'll be able to offer extra support and advice.

Take the time to view the property thoroughly, and take a checklist of things to look for, like the one we've put together here. If you're unsure of the answer to any questions, ask the Real Estate Agent - they should know the property details, and if not should be able to find out.

Confirm Your Solicitor

It's important to make sure you have a solicitor sorted before you make an offer because you will be asked for their name and contact details when filling out the document!

Most solicitors offer a first home buyers package at a set price that will cover all the things they need to do. If you don't know who to go with try looking up some reviews online, or talk to family, friends or colleagues who have recently bought a home - they might be able to recommend someone for you!


Make An Offer

Once you've found your dream first home it's time to make an offer. So where do you start? To make sure making an offer is as stress free for you as possible we spoke to the experts to get their advice on the right approach here

Once you have made an offer the seller may either accept it, decline it, or make a counter offer. If they make a counter offer you can choose to negotiate with them on the selling price. And if they except? Yay! You are now on the home stretch!

If your offer is accepted you will then be required to sign a Sale and Purchase Agreement, which covers things like the dates, selling price, and conditions of sale. It's important to check whether the Sale and Purchase Agreement has a cash clause, because this means that a cash buyer can make an offer on the home during your conditional period. If you have any questions or concerns make sure you ask your Real Estate Agent - they are there to help.


Go Back to Your Bank

Once you've had an offer accepted on a property you then need to go back to your Bank. The Bank will review the property to make sure it complies with their requirements - if it does they'll then provide you with a letter confirming Conditional Loan Approval.

Conditional Approval means that your application has been approved with the condition that you meet some additional requirements. To accept this offer of conditional finance you will need to sign it and return to your Bank as soon as possible.

These conditions usually require you to gather specific documentation relating to the property to allow the bank to determine whether your lending for the property will be officially approved. Your Bankshould clearly explain what needs to be provided and the date they need to be provided by. If you have any questions at this stage don't be afraid to ask your Banking Specialist - they're there to help!


Complete Your To Do's

Once you've talked to your Bank it's time to complete your to do's!

You should have a list of the tasks that your Bank has asked you to complete, as well as any conditions you put in to the contract yourself.

If you have conditions in your offer, you will also have agreed to a date that you need to complete these tasks before - the seller can't wait around forever! Make sure that you have completed all your to do's, including securing your lending, before this date so that you don't miss out on your home.

Once you have provided the necessary documents to the bank your Bank will review the documentation to see if it satisfies the conditions of finance. If satisfied your Bank will be able to officially approve your loan!



Now that your lending has been approved there are a few remaining tasks that you need to complete before the home is yours (you're almost there!). These include:

  • Confirming Your Loan Structure
  • Visiting Your Solicitor
  • Settlement and Drawdown

Find out more about these steps on the Settlement section of our Step-by-Step First Home Buyer's guide.



Arrange Your Utilities

Before you move in to your home remember to arrange all your utilities to make sure they are switched on for day one. Depending on your home this might include:

  • Power
  • Internet
  • Gas

These things can be arranged in advanced and should be done after you have gone unconditional but before settlement day.


Figure Out What You Need

Whether you've previously been renting and already have a range of household items, or are starting from scratch, there's always things you need to buy when moving in to your first home.

It is good to start by taking stock of what you do have and what the house will come with, so you can work out what you need to source. Some of the things you might need for your first home include:

  • Whiteware
  • Furniture
  • Groceries
  • Crockery
  • Cleaning Products
  • Curtains
  • Toiletries

to name a few! The trick is to think of each room in your house, and decide what you need.

Once you have a list you can then go shopping! As a first home buyer you probably won't have a lot of money for these things (although the SBS FirstHome Combo Cash Contribution will definitely help!), so it pays to look at second hand items as well.

Book Your Moving Van

Depending on how many things you have to move into your new home (and how big they are) you might want to consider hiring a moving van to get you from A to B. You can help keep costs down by driving the van yourself and asking friends or family members to help you with the heavy lifting.


Ask Family or Friends to Help You Move

Your family and friends are sure to help you move if you give them a little notice, it is your first home after all! A little bribe never hurt either - fish and chips for tea anyone?

Pack Your Things

It's almost moving time, and unfortunately your belongings won't pack themselves. Grab some boxes, some vivids, and some snacks and get cracking on packing - you definitely don't want to leave this until the last minute. Keep the things that you'll need over the next week out but make sure you have a plan to easily pack them on the morning of your move.

Collect Your Keys

If you are moving on the day of settlement the first thing you'll have to do is collect your keys!

Probably the most exciting part of the home buying process - the moment you receive the call that the keys to your first home are ready to collect!!!!! 

Just make sure you keep to the speed limit on the drive over...


Move In!

You did it! Moving day might be a little stressful at times, but we're sure you'll be so excited it will just fly by.

Congratulations on moving in to your first home - we knew we could get you there together!

And if you're just reading ahead to see what the home buying process is like? Give us a call - we're on your team.




The legal stuff

The information contained within this webpage is factual and general in nature and is not financial advice. You should consider the appropriateness of the information as it relates to you.  Our product information webpages may cover deposit products and lending information which may contain some general advice.  The product information webpages may also contain information about other investments such as, superannuation and insurance, the content of which is factual information and is not intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about the suitability of any of our financial products for you.  If you would like to obtain financial advice, we suggest you speak with one of our Nominated Representatives.