Taking the Plunge

Private Property South Africa
Shaun Wewege

You’ve been dating a while. She is able to put up with your sports magazines that you’ve been collecting since your teen years and you have made peace with the fact that her shoe collection will take up a third of your cupboard space. The next step is a logical one – move in together.

I have recently found myself in this position and have spent Sunday afternoons visiting showhouses. At first, it was new and exciting! I had pictured the lounge with the big screen TV, having friends over for a braai, a glass of wine on the patio and a dog that would faithfully fetch the newspaper each morning. All we needed to do was find the right place. Simple, yes?

Not quite. Our dreams quickly became frustrations as the house-hunting progress became tedious. Each weekend we’d meet a selection of agents, some who were eager to please, and others who were clearly bored and could think of dozens of better ways to spend their Sunday afternoons. We’d get lost, find the complex only to be too late for the showhouse, or realise that “needs TLC” means “this home is a step away from being condemned and will require major repair expenditure.”

We also tried to adopt a happy-go-lucky approach and drive around the suburbs until we found showhouses we thought would be worth seeing. I can safely say that this was the biggest mistake we’d made for two reasons. Firstly, we convinced ourselves that there were “thousands” of places to view because we’d seen the boards on the side of the road each week. In reality, you are better off targeting prospective homes that that need to be viewed by appointment rather than visiting dozens of showhouses. While hitting the streets on a Sunday afternoon will no doubt reveal some stunning properties, you will waste a precious resource with this scattergun approach – time (and petrol). You will also stumble across showings that have been cancelled at the last minute, incomplete directions that leave you lost or misprints in pamphlets.

Secondly, we realised that neither of us are very good actors. By chance, we turned into a complex and loved what we saw. A stunning abode with an amazing sundeck, koi pond, wine cellar and rock pool. The problem is that the home in question was more than double what we could afford and we quickly realised that we either had to embarrassingly admit that the home was not in our price range or tell a lie and find fault with this Top Billing type dwelling. We chose the latter and are now reluctant to view properties with a certain realtor for fear of being found out. Pride is a terrible thing!

Through it all we’ve seen some magnificent homes and found an abode with a loft so small not even a Hobbit would be able to stand upright. It’s been an experience of highs and lows, laughter and depression (having an agent take her pamphlet back when I admitted that the home was out of our price range was the low point). We’re just about ready to put in an offer to purchase and are ready for the next challenge – obtaining finance – but that’s a whole other feature!

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