Should I buy now or keep on renting?

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Here are a couple of pointers to help you decide if you are ready to step onto the first rung of the property ladder.

You’ve been renting for years and things aren’t going that well with the landlord. Or the idea of moving to a new, larger place that you won’t own, but which will suit your needs, is preying on your mind. You start scouring the web, looking at houses in your neighbourhood and you’ve even popped in to see the odd show house or two, but you’re still not absolutely convinced that it’s the right time to buy your first home.

To be fair, buying a property is a major financial commitment and the idea that you will be indebted to your bank for the next 20 to 30 years can be daunting. Some people will never be home owners, but there are both long and short-term advantages – financially and emotionally – to taking the plunge.

So how do you know if you’re ready to enter the property market?
Here are a couple of pointers to help you decide if you are ready to step onto the first rung of the property ladder:

  • You are paying too much rent and it would be cheaper to own your own home. This happens more often than you may think, which is why it’s important to keep an eye on local markets and have some idea of what bond repayments would be if you bought a similar property.
  • You are tired of asking the landlord to maintain the property. If this is the case, it will be far less frustrating to own your own home and take responsibility for any necessary repairs and/or maintenance yourself.
  • You want the security of knowing you can live in the same house for as long as you like, and not for as long as your landlord is willing to rent it out.
  • You’re not planning on leaving the area in which you currently live. Property is rarely a good short-term investment and it’s highly advisable to only buy where you are planning on staying for a good few years.
  • You either have no debt, or your debt is well-managed.
  • You have the means to save for a deposit or you’ve already managed to squirrel away enough money to put down a substantial deposit.
  • You are financially stable and have a good, steady job.
  • You actually want to own your own home. It may be time to buy if you enjoy pottering around the garden and fixing things up in your rented home. There’s far more to owning your own home than simply making the monthly bond repayments. It takes commitment and a fair amount of work to keep a property in top shape.

Most people are pleasantly surprised by how much the banks will be willing to lend and one of the easiest ways to determine how much you can afford to spend is by visiting a local estate agent. They will be able to give you an idea of how much a bank would be prepared to lend, and are ideally placed to show you what is on the market in your price range. Private Property also offers online bond calculators which will help you establish what the bond repayments would be on a particular property.

Once you have an idea of how much you can afford, start researching prices in your area of choice. Don’t rush into any deal without researching what is and what isn’t good value for money. Again, chat to your agent about average prices in the area and make an informed decision based on all the information you have gathered.

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