Seeff Sandton’s top 10 tips for first time buyers
Tip 1 - Crunch the numbers. Have a good look at your budget and your disposable income. What could you spend on a property? Remember that it's not just the bond repayment. You'll be paying levies or insurance, rates & taxes and utilities too.
Tip 2 - Get the banks' opinion. A pre-qualification is a really good idea. The banks may have a more conservative estimate of your affordability. If you need a bond then you need to find out what you qualify for.
Tip 3 - Make financial adjustments. Be cut-throat with those accounts and expenses. Consolidate debt, close unnecessary accounts and pay off outstanding bills. A healthy payment profile will stand you in good stead with the banks if you're applying for a mortgage bond.
Tip 4 – Use Google Maps! Once you've identified your favourite locations, use Google Maps to scout the immediate surrounds. Often, there are lesser-known suburbs not popularly known but just as good.
Tip 5 - Visit your location at different times of the day and of the week, so that you can understand traffic patterns and other fun goings-on. Maybe there's a Parkrun in the area you didn't know about? Maybe there's a community market?
Tip 6 - Go to hot spots in the area. Visit local cafes, restaurants and shopping centres to get a feel for the neighbourhood.
Tip 7 - Think about what you want and what you need. Be specific with online searches and when talking to agents. Don't view a mid-floor apartment if you have a dog! Know your must-“haves” versus your negotiables.
Tip 8 - Work with well-known agents/agencies. They'll know the area and the properties on the market and be able to give you really good advice.
Tip 9 - Ask for information on the suburb or on the specific estate or complex you're keen on. Good agents have access to a huge amount of information and you can benefit from that.
Tip 10 - Always take a good look. Don't put in an offer without having seen a property, and having seen it in good light! Don't rush and ask as many questions as you'd like to. Go see out-rooms and parking spaces too. A good agent will be happy to take you for a second viewing!
Bonus Tip - Remember an offer is binding. Don't offer what you cannot commit to. There may be financial penalties if you 'back out' unfairly. A good agent can guide you in this regard.