First time buyers - listen to your heart

Private Property South Africa
Cathy Nolan

First-time buyers are going to have to jump through a number of hoops before they buy a property and having a rough idea of what to expect can go a long way towards ensuring that the process of finding a home and buying into the dream is as painless as possible.

The Internet has completely changed the way we buy property. By logging onto property websites, potential buyers can quickly gauge what is available at what price. We all have high hopes, but being able to gain a broad overview of price and position can prove to be an enormous help.

Most people buy property through an estate agent and there is good reason for this. Agents not only know what is available, they can also offer valuable advice and give their professional opinion on what is well priced and what is not. Finding the right agent, one with whom you connect, who listens to your needs and who will go to the ends of the earth to find you the right home will work to your advantage.

Speak to the bank. Although banks no longer offer pre-approved bonds, they will be able to tell you how much you can spend. Be warned, though - a thorough credit check will be conducted and no buyer in South Africa will be able to secure bond finance unless their credit record is squeaky clean. Debt is another concern and even if your credit record is sound, banks take a dim view of those who have excessive debt. The National Credit Act has basically forced banks to rethink the way they do business and those who have too many accounts may well find that banking institutions are unwilling to lend them money for their dream home.

Only fools rush in and it is advisable to have a look at a number of similarly priced properties before signing an offer to purchase. That said, try not to view too many properties on any given day as it is easy to become confused. If an agent is showing you unsuitable properties, tell him. His time is as valuable as yours and wandering around homes you either can’t afford or simply don’t like is a complete and utter waste of everyone’s time.

Get as much information about the property as you can before you commit. Ask the agent if there are any problems with the property and if there are, ask for these to be listed in writing. Although the Consumer Protection Act may offer some protection, it is always far easier to sort out problems before the deal goes through than after the seller has received his money.

Go back and view the property. A property purchase is a major buying decision and no one should feel embarrassed about returning to view a property that they are interested in buying.

Do not be embarrassed to ask questions about every aspect of the buying process. The agent of today is far more educated in all things property than ever before and is perfectly placed to answer any questions regardless of how ‘silly’ you think the question may be.

Don’t buy a property if it doesn’t feel right. Listen to your inner voice and if something is telling you not to buy, move on to something that you feel more comfortable with. The decision to go with your gut could save you money in the future.


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