“Cape Town home buyers have a tendency to hibernate whenever winter comes and the more it rains, the more reluctant they become to get out and look at homes for sale,” says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group.
This, was particularly noticeable in the high rainfall, high wind weeks experienced at the end of May and in early June. Certain show houses had only one or two visitors per day during that period.
Nevertheless, if a buyer is serious about making a good purchase, winter is an ideal time to do so for two very good reasons.
The first of these is that with less competition to contend with, the buyer may well find that a competitive offer is accepted. Secondly, inspecting a home in winter will reveal just how efficiently (or inefficiently) it copes with cold and wet conditions.
A winter inspection may show that the roofs are leaking or that rising damp is a serious problem. It will also show if the house is incapable of being warmed up satisfactorily and is possibly dark and unwelcoming in winter. These are things that the potential buyer has to know.
Quite frequently, on a cold winter’s day, the seller will take the precaution of heating up the home with a variety of equipment such as wall, bar, gas or oil heaters and lighting fires in all the fireplaces. In such cases, the potential buyer should ask to see the electricity accounts. The last thing a South African wants to do today is to buy into a home that will feel the full brunt of Eskom’s on-going price rises.
Wet conditions can also reveal if the garden is well drained or prone to floods – and if run-off from a neighbouring property is a problem.
“People who are skeptical about buying in winter are doing themselves a disservice,” says Rawson. “In my experience it actually pays to go looking for homes in winter and to make an offer well before the weather improves.”