Congratulations on purchasing your first property and entering the exciting world of home ownership. Whether you made a direct offer to the owner's agent or bravely bought the property at auction, the hard work isn't over just yet. With everything from the settlement statement to council and water rates to take into consideration, there are few things to tick off your to-do list before the property is all yours. 1. First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) eligibility One of the perks of being a first time buyer is you may be eligible for some extra help from the Government, depending on the property you're buying or building and the State or Territory you live in. If eligible, ask your home loan provider to organise the FHOG paperwork for you, alongside the home loan. 2. Exchange contracts After your solicitor or conveyancer has gone through the contract, made any amendments and you're happy with going ahead, all you have to do is sign the contract and generally pay a holding deposit. If you bought the property at auction, you will probably have to pay a 10% deposit on the day but you should check the conditions of auction with the real estate agent prior to auction day. Keep in mind, once the contracts have exchanged there is usually a cooling off period but not in the case of an auction. 3. Insure your new property It's a wise idea to take out insurance once the contracts have been signed to ensure you're protected (and avoid disputes with the vendor) if anything unexpected happens to the property before settlement. 4. Recheck the property on settlement Once you’ve exchanged contracts and the cooling off period (if applicable) comes to an end, make sure you take the opportunity to revisit the property on the morning of settlement to ensure it is in good condition and nothing has changed since you placed an offer. Before settlement, your solicitor should provide a statement with the date of settlement, as well as the funds required. 5. Set up utilities Home ownership brings with it council rates and water bills, which you will have to pay from settlement. So, before you move into your dream home, make sure to let the local council know you're the new owner of the property. The same goes for water/sewer and gas/electricity charges, where you’ll have to contact the provider to set up the service and start paying the bills. 6. Obtain certified copy of owners' corporation insurance If purchasing an apartment or townhouse, once settlement has taken place and the property is all yours, quarterly strata levies kick in. Your home loan provider may require proof that the building is insured, so you should ask the Owners' Corporation or strata management firm for a certified copy of the insurance. 7. Pay conveyancer or solicitor Make sure you budget for the conveyancer or solicitor fees that usually sit around the $2,000 mark depending on the property you're purchasing and the work required. 8. Get the keys to your first home Once settlement has taken place, you’ll then be able to pick up the keys to your first home from the real estate agent and the journey of home ownership truly begins! Your home loan provider will register your deeds with the Land Titles Office. The information here is of a general nature only and is not intended to constitute financial or tax advice. You should consult your professional adviser, accountant or taxation expert for advice specific to your personal circumstances. The taxation position described is a general statement and should only be used as a guide. It does not constitute tax advice and is based on current tax laws and their interpretation.