For Ryan and Honeylee Java, purchasing their first investment property was a numbers game, plain and simple.
"It's all about the numbers and the figures. It's just doing the professional thing - it's not really about where we would like to live, but where's the most value for money, that's the thing," Mr Java said.
That meant broadening their search beyond their hometown and relying on spreadsheets, rather than emotions, to make a purchasing decision.
The couple, who already own their home in Singleton, NSW, looked at properties in Newcastle and Maitland with the assistance of buyers agent Josh Desmond, before successfully making an offer on a four-bedroom house in the Central Coast suburb of Gorokan.
Based on their budget, the Central Coast represented the best potential for future price growth - an important part of their investment strategy.
"First Josh showed us all the data that the suburb has. [There's been] constant growth every year, it's also very strategic [location wise] as well - it lies between Newcastle and Sydney," Mr Java said.
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They purchased the property in early August, and though they are yet to settle, Mr Java said they plan on repeating the strategy to purchase another investment property next year.
The Java's data driven strategy is something Well Home Loans CEO Scott Spencer thinks could help more regional buyers get a foot on the property ladder, or avoid making a financially disadvantageous purchase.
"A home isn't just somewhere to live - it's also an economic asset. So you have to balance the emotional concerns about liveability and security with the hard-headed concerns about financial returns," he said.
That strategy may include buying a first property outside of a buyer's hometown as an investment, rather than a home to live in - a strategy commonly referred to as 'rentvesting'.
Well Home Loans recently commissioned data company Suburbtrends to compile a list of regions where it may make more sense to rent than buy, as well as a list of alternative markets where buyers could get more bang for their buck.
"[The research] found 55 areas where a lot of potential first home buyers live have unit markets that might deliver subpar financial returns. At the same time, there are 30 house markets around Australia that seem to have good long-term growth potential. That's why, for some first home buyers, rentvesting might be an option worth considering," Mr Spencer said.
The report considered factors including rental yield, median dwelling price growth and vacancy rates when making a determination of whether it was better to rent or buy.
It made a buy or rent comparison in three different price brackets; $500,000 to $600,000, $600,000 to $700,000 and $700,000 to $800,000.
For example, in the lowest price bracket, the report found that a unit dweller in Newcastle would be better off remaining a renter there and instead directing their funds to invest in a house in Orange, in the state's Central West.
Unit dwellers on Victoria's Surf Coast with a budget of $600,000 to $700,000 would be better off remaining renters in their current location and looking to invest in a house in Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie in NSW.
At the higher end of the market, unit dwellers in the Southern Highlands and the Sutherland-Menai-Heathcote region would be better off remaining renters and investing in a house in Queanbeyan or the Canberra suburbs of Tuggeranong or Belconnen.
Mr Spencer said that the report was not intended to provide first-home buyers advice, and that buyers should take other factors into account before deciding whether choosing an investment over a primary residence was the right more for them.
"... We're definitely not telling first home buyers where they should and shouldn't buy. Nothing is guaranteed. Some of those unit markets might turn out to deliver strong returns while some of those house markets might end up being poor performers. Also, while financial returns are important, so are concerns about liveability and security."