More first-home owners are purchasing in Warrnambool as the town's real estate market continues to boom.
Warrnambool's median house sale price is $349,000, which is significantly under the state's $409,000 average and a drastic improvement on 2018's third quarter at $318,000, according to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria.
Liam Bishop recently purchased his first home in east Warrnambool.
The 23-year-old is now living in the house and is thrilled to have entered the real estate market.
He sees his home town as a great investment.
"I'd been saving most of my life," he said.
"Later I discovered I wanted to buy a house with my savings.
"I was lucky enough to get a job straight out of school and I'm still there today while also studying a Bachelor of Education online through Swinburne University.
"I was living at home rent-free which was a massive help towards my savings.
"Prior to purchasing my house I was able to travel overseas so I don't believe I've had to sacrifice anything.
"However I am now more mindful of my finances being prioritised towards my home loan but I still have a passion for travel and I put a small amount away for it."
Mr Bishop sought financial advice through family and friends and put down a 20 per cent deposit for his property.
"I thought it was a good idea to email some real estate agents around the area," he said.
"Attending a few inspections also helped get my name out there to real estates.
"I've always considered Warrnambool, particularly the east Warrnambool area as I spent a lot of time there growing up."
As Mr Bishop purchased an established property, he was not eligible for the Federal Government's First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) of $20,000 for regional Victoria.
But he was eligible for the stamp-duty waiver.
Warrnambool real estate agents said the housing market could be difficult to access for first home buyers, but not impossible.
Ray White sales consultant Chris Thomas estimated the average age for a current first-home buyer in the region was 25.
"We have definitely seen an increase of first-home buyers entering the market place, not only buyers looking for a home to live but also as investors," he said.
"I think the real estate market is accessible for young people if they are committed to saving for a deposit; the bigger deposit they have the less they have to borrow.
"With local prices rising in the last 12 months I think first-time buyers are looking to take advantage of the grants available to them. Not having to pay stamp duty on an existing property they purchase is a significant saving for young people looking for a home to live in.
"With strong rental returns available at the moment more and more first-home buyers are turning to investing to start off with, it means they can still have the lifestyle they want and be property owners."
Ludeman Real Estate director and sales consultant Mark Dwyer said saving more than 20 per cent deposit was crucial in a tough market.
"First-home buyers have to compete against investors re-entering market who are looking for better returns on their investment than banks are offering," he said.
"Major banks have also tightened their lending guidelines which makes it harder for first-home buyers obtaining finance.
"Though the banks have tightened, there are current low-interest rates being offered by lenders.
"We would believe most first home owners apply for FHOG."
Sinclair Wilson credit adviser Andrew Morris said he'd seen more people seeking financial advice to enter the real estate market.
"We have seen an increase in people coming to us for advice about purchasing their first home, but we've also seen an increase across the board - not just first-home buyers," he said.
"We're yet to see someone who is eligible for the FHOG not apply.
"First-home buyers purchasing an established property can get their stamp duty waived which can make a big difference to the deposit they are looking at having to pay.
"Young people interested in buying a home have always sought advice and assistance. We find there is a lot of people who appreciate the value of having specialist advice about how they can set and meet their mid- and long-term financial goals."
Mr Bishop hopes his Warrnambool purchase will help set his finances in order for future.
"I liked the East Warrnambool area as it's close to Hopkins and the beach," he said.
"There is potential to extend my house in various ways but at this stage the layout is perfect as it is.
"I'm hoping it gives me the opportunity to improve my life-long finances and assets."
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