A property buying battle plan

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Before you make a property purchase, ask these questions of the seller, to help you make your decision.

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We all know that buying a home is going to be one of the biggest purchases we are ever going to make. However, this doesn't mean that you should simply throw good money away on an emotional whim. We live in the Information Age and the key to buying a home is gathering as much information as possible in order to pitch your offer at the correct level and to ensure that you don't buy somebody else's problem.

Most of the information needed to make a buying decision resides with the seller. Embarrassment won't serve you well in these circumstances - you need to ask the right questions and if you don't feel up to the task then take someone with you who will.

Before making an offer, ask as many questions as you can and, where possible, get the answers in writing. This will offer you long-term protection if something goes wrong. The following list of questions are of the probing variety and you should carefully watch the seller's reaction when you ask them.

• How many times has the home been viewed?

• How many offers have you had?

• How long has the home been on the market?

• Do you have electrical and other necessary certificates available?

• Is anyone leasing the property and if so how long does the lease have to run?

• Have you been involved in any altercations or disputes with the neighbours?

• Why do you want to move and are you absolutely sure that you want to sell at this stage?

• Has the property undergone any renovations? When?

• How old is the geyser and when was it last inspected?

• Has the home ever been electrically rewired?

• Have you purchased elsewhere and if so is that purchase subject to the sale of this property?

• If the property is in a complex, what are the current levies, when were they last increased and has the been a special levy in the recent past?

• Who lives next door?

• When did you purchase the property?

• Can you give me a list of items that will be included in the sale, such as the stove, other appliances and soft goods such as curtains.

• What fixtures do not form part of the sale, including things like light fittings, built-in bars, pool equipment and other incidentals?

• Have there been any parking issues when you've had a large number of guests? If the property is situated in a complex, how many parking bays are included and is there parking for visitors?

• If there is a fireplace: if so, when last was the chimney swept?

• Have you ever had a sinkhole in the garden?

• What are the current rates?

• Has the seller been the victim of any sort of crime on the property?

• Has anyone ever been murdered on the property? This is an awful question to ask, however, it is something that could well put a damper on any sale.

There may be many other questions that are pertinent to your own particular circumstances so don't hold back - you have an awful lot riding on the deal. A brainstorming session with family and friends will often point you in the right direction when it comes to finding out as much as you possibly can about the property you want to buy.

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