Don’t regret your home purchase

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Buying a home is a huge financial undertaking, so make sure you carefully consider everything before putting your offer in.

We all do things which we later regret, but buying a property should never fall into this category.

No one, including family members or estate agents, should pressure you into making a decision you are unsure of. After all, you are the one who is going to be left paying for and living in the home.

Pressure comes in different forms. Our parents generally say things like, ‘you need to settle down’ and ‘a home will give you roots’. Friends who have already invested in property may also enter the fray and could well pressure you to buy. Agents on the other hand could push a reluctant buyer into signing by either saying there are other buyers in the wings or that the owner has already received a number of offers.

It doesn't matter where the pressure comes from, the buyer’s only focus should be on if he can visualise himself living in the home, where the property is situated and whether he can comfortably afford the repayments.

Buyer’s remorse comes in many forms. The buyer may love the home, but dislike the area in which it's situated; it may prove to be too small or too big; they may have paid too much or the place simply doesn't feel like home. Bad buying decisions aren't that important when it comes to most things, because most of us can live with our mistakes for the short term. Property, however, is different and when you add the additional costs such as transfer and conveyancing fees to your purchase price, it quickly becomes evident you could lose thousands of rands if you sell too quickly.

It's easy to get carried away, particularly if you are looking for a home in a popular area. The competition is often fierce and the urge to buy something that's not really suitable just because you're afraid you’ll lose out to a rival buyer is very real. Buying a home should never be viewed as a competition and anyone who invests in something they don't particularly like is going to live to regret the decision. The lesson here is don't buy anything until you are absolutely certain that the property in question ticks most, if not all the right boxes.

So what do buyers most often regret?

• Buying a home far from work. Commuting has become a major issue. The roads are more congested than ever before and the fact that it now takes you an hour longer to get to work could end up with you hating your home. Anyone who is considering moving to a distant suburb should do a morning and afternoon test run in rush hour traffic in order to see how long it takes before making a decision.

• Buying a home that's too small. This is a fairly common problem because although you imagine a two bedroom home will more than accommodate your two-child family, remember that children grow and will want their own private space sooner or later.

• A large garden. We all have memories of playing in gardens as children and the urge to recreate these memories often encourages buyers to choose a home with large outdoor areas. While this may seem like an attraction, the world has changed and not only do children spend more time with extramural activities outside the home, they also spend far more time indoors than before.

• Buying a home that's too big. No one likes to rattle around in a large home (which is why so many people downsize after the children move out). Large homes are expensive to run and unless you're using the additional space on a regular basis, the novelty of having two spare rooms and a study is most probably going to wear off very quickly.

The overall message is - don't be rushed into making a decision, regardless of the pressure you are under. Take your time, weigh up all the pros and cons and make a sensible, informed decision based on all the facts.

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