Test-Drive That Dream House Before Buying It

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

The fact that buying your dream house is a long-term financial and lifestyle commitment would indicate that taking your time over making that decision, could be in order.

In which case, for serious buyers looking to rent the property they intend buying, might pose a reality should they be lucky enough to stumble upon an equally serious seller. Why not consider to try what you buy, before signing on the dotted line for a large financial investment when providing a family with a new home. This could prove beneficial to both seller and buyer, providing the seller is agreeable to leasing the property to a serious buyer while reserving the first right of option to purchase.

Property professionals say finding such willing sellers and would-be landlords does not necessarily occur readily at all ends of the property market. Some owners rent their properties without any intention of ever selling, while others less fortunate may have placed properties on the market possibly more than once, or over extended periods.

At upmarket private residential estates, property owners rent out their homes for rental periods from three to 12 months, or for short holiday periods during peak season. At Cape Town golf estates such as De Zalze in Stellenbosch, agents say although most rentals are derived from permanently leases, demand drives the shortage of houses for rent. And instead of sellers leaving properties on the market for longer than nine to twelve weeks and sometimes unoccupied, providing that buyers are serious and prepared to negotiate, some sellers are prepared do consider this approach. Jacques Marais, Head of Property Sales at Steenberg Golf Estate says properties here are purchased by serious buyers within reasonable periods, and although not ruling it out this situation has not yet occurred. Reason being he says is that typical top-end sellers can afford the freedom to either wait for the ideal buyer, or to remove their properties from the market when optimum sales periods are exceeded.

Rental periods prior to an offer to purchase materialising may differ, such as when the landlord not under pressure to sell a property would typically require a longer lease commitment of a year and more. A property owner needing to sell under time constraint might welcome immediate financial relief in the form of a shorter rental of three to six months, whereas others might await more favourable market conditions and extend the lease further.

Should the seller be willing to draw up a lease agreement allowing the tenant the first option to buy, this could result in a win-win situation both for seller and prospective buyer. Because, from the seller’s perspective, who may or may not be living in the property, earning a rental income from letting the house while a prospective buyer experiences the lifestyle, might swing the deal. Benefits to the seller can range from the market in a specific area picking up momentum during the waiting period, and hopefully attracting an optimum selling price. In the case of the market slowing even further, he could exercise caution and opt not to sell under pressure and continue deriving rental income instead.

For serious buyers who genuinely want to experience a lifestyle within a specific area and home before committing themselves, the benefits could be many. Such as getting to know a house for what it is worth, a new neighbourhood, activities and security in the area, property owners associations, schools, public amenities, entertainment , as well as having moved in already.

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