Buying a property creates a whole lot of different emotions, including excitement, anxiety and even panic. After all, for most people, buying a property is probably the most significant financial commitment they will make. So, it’s no wonder this transaction creates so much anxiety and stress.
Sometimes, however, the understandable concerns around making such a big commitment can turn into genuine buyer’s remorse.
Buying a new home is not just a question of identifying a suitable area and then finding a home that meets your needs. A lot of research - and compromise – goes into the process. With all the variables involved, you might easily be tempted to settle for a property that isn’t quite right for you.
But because buying a property is a long-term commitment – usually 20 or 30 years - it’s essential to be as sure as possible before you make an offer.
Before you even start looking at properties online, you need to know what properties you can afford.
The quickest way to find out is to apply to one of the reputable mortgage originators for a prequalification certificate. They will assess your finances and check your credit record. They will then tell you whether or not one of the banks will likely approve your home loan application and the price range of properties you can afford.
If your chances of having your loan application approved are slim, they will also be able to advise you on what steps you can take to make your application more acceptable to lenders. For example, it’s advisable to save up for a deposit. If possible, you should also start putting aside a sum equivalent to what your future bond repayments are expected to be. You will then already be in the habit of making those repayments before you buy.
You might have a good idea of which suburbs you’d like to live in, but it’s possible that you can’t afford a suitable property in those areas at present.
If you are obliged to look for a new home in a more affordable area, proper research is even more important than if you were house hunting in areas you already know.
- Visit the local shopping centres and restaurants to make sure they meet your needs.
- Travel the traffic routes in rush hour.
- Consider how far you will be from friends, family, schools and work - and be quite sure that you are happy with any compromise.
Make sure your new home fits your lifestyle.
- If you have pets, be sure to look for a pet-friendly complex or a free-standing house.
- If you are often away from home, look for a home that doesn’t require much upkeep.
Keep in mind that a home is a long-term commitment, so you should take into account what your needs might be a few years from now.
- If you have children, where will they go to school?
- Will you perhaps have a different job?
Be realistic. Don’t even consider a fixer-upper if you suspect you will never have the time - or the money - to do the necessary work. Rather look for a smaller, well-maintained home.
When you find a property you like, ask a home inspection company to inspect it so that you can be confident the structure and installations are sound before you make an offer.
Sellers are obliged to tell their estate agent and prospective buyers if they know of any faults. They are not allowed to conceal defects – for instance, paint over rising damp. However, if defects are discovered after you move in, it can be difficult to prove the sellers knew about them. Furthermore, the offer to purchase states that you accept the property voetstoots - as it stands - so it’s in your best interest to make sure everything is in good condition before you sign any documents.
If a home inspection reveals any problems, you can try to negotiate a reduction in the purchase price, or the sellers may agree to carry out the necessary repairs.
Homebuyers sometimes so desperately want a property to be right for them that they will convince themselves that it is. If you have any misgivings, explore them and make sure you are really satisfied with the answers.
Your goal should be to find the perfect property for you, your lifestyle and your future. If something doesn’t feel right – rather walk away and keep looking.
Writer : Sarah-Jane Meyer