Much has been made of selecting the right house. Does it have an established garden and pool? Is it affordable? Is it child-friendly? These are a few of the questions that typically do the rounds. But what of the neighbourhood?
According to various property experts, home buyers should choose their neighbourhood before they start looking for a house. After all, it’s pointless rushing into buying your dream home if the area in which it’s situated is a complete mismatch with your lifestyle.
There are a few non-negotiables when considering a neighbourhood. Arguably the first and most important in the South African context is the area’s crime rate. Although no neighbourhood is completely immune to the scourge, there are areas that are veritable crime magnets. With this in mind, pay a trip to the local police station and enquire about the area’s stats. They may surprise you. Residents’ associations and local security companies are also a good source of crime-related information.
Public transport is another aspect to consider. Does your neighbourhood of choice offer anything along these lines? It may well be that you don’t have access to a car, or want to save money when commuting. As such, easy access to buses, taxies train stations might play an important role in this equation. Similarly, proximity to key local amenities, your place of work, friends and family is another important factor to ponder.
Do your research. Understanding what is planned for the neighbourhood could well make or break your buying decision. Perhaps a highway has been earmarked for the area. Maybe it’s due to receive a shot in the arm in the form of a new organic craft market which could boost the area’s values and desirability in the future. It’s worth finding out.
Another aspect that experts say should be considered is the potential for growth in the value of your home. Abel Mngadi, Head of New Business and Sales at FNB Housing Finance, points out that an area’s historical property values are a good indication of the future investment into a neighbourhood. Various reports can be bought online to provide a clear picture of the kind of growth an area is experiencing.
Show day vs every day
Don’t believe everything you see and hear during the show day. Visit the neighbourhood at different times of the day and on different days of the week to see whether traffic noise, barking dogs, the crèche next door or a nearby night club will bother you. Likewise, for example, if you are sensitive to the cold, a suburb next to a river will be far chillier and need more expensive insulation and heating during the winter. Such issues may seem trivial now but once the honeymoon period at your new home has worn off, they will matter.
Lastly, narrow down your search to a few select areas. It’s pointless searching an entire city for the perfect neighbourhood. Decide on a few areas that you are comfortable with and which meet the majority of your needs, and then stick to those areas. The right house will present itself.