Like the potential; love the property

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Before you get all emotional about a property you’ve just viewed and race to put in an offer, stop. Take a deep breath. Find out as much as you can about the property and the area in which it is situated. Take your time and weigh up all the information before you sign on the bottom line.

Purchasing property is quite possibly the most important – and certainly one of the most expensive – decisions you’ll ever make. A bad decision can take years to rectify and can end up costing you a small fortune. So look out for potential problems before you put pen to paper.

Rates vs valuation

First of all, find out what rates are being charged and if the property has been valued correctly by the local municipality. This is important, particularly if you have paid substantially less for the home than the sum at which it is valued, as a property’s Deeds Office valuation determines the rates that you will be charged. You can do this through a service such as Lightstone, by clicking here.

Then, ensure that all outstanding rates have been paid by the seller. This, again, is incredibly important given that the courts recently ruled that new owners can be held liable for debts incurred by the previous owner.

Say “hi”

Check out the neighbours. Seriously, noisy neighbours can affect your quality of life. Are those living next door running some sort of business and, if so, will this impact on your daily routine? It stands to reason that while someone working from a home-based office doing admin work isn’t going to be a problem, a business operating heavy, machinery probably will, particularly if they work over weekends. The proximity of a neighbourhood business may also affect your street access to your property.

Visit the property at different times of the day and on different days of the week. When viewing property over the weekend the area may seem tranquil but this could change during peak hours. Check out both the pedestrian and vehicle traffic during traditionally busy times of the day, taking note of how easy it is to get in and out of the property at these times.

Part of the plan

Ask the current owners if they have made any alterations to the home and whether or not the extensions are legal. It is highly advisable to see an approved set of house plans before you buy, just to ensure that everything is above board. You can obtain house plans from the local Deeds Office.

Get the stats

Ask about crime in the area. Speak to various people about this, including the local security company and police station, nearby business owners and neighbours. While it may be true that criminals target different areas at different times, bear in mind that just because a suburb is relatively crime-free today this doesn’t mean that it will be tomorrow. There do seem to be hotspots that are more at risk.

Access to up-to-date technology is also important. If you’re online a lot, contact Telkom to check whether the address supports an ADSL line. Don’t assume that because some areas of a suburb are covered, your new home will be too.

See the lease

If there are tenants on the property, ask to see a copy of the lease in order to see how long it still has to run. Many people assume that they can evict a tenant once they have bought a property, but this is certainly not the case and a tenant has every right to remain on a property until the lease agreement expires.

Following these tips will ensure more peace of mind when making your buying decision. For more useful information on purchasing a home, click here.

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