The ‘Big Five’ When Buying a Home in SA

The ‘Big Five’ When Buying a Home in SA

Private Property South Africa

With South African banks granting 100% home loans again, South Africans are slowly but surely starting to buy property. “This is evident in the increase in the number of home loans being granted,” says Adrian Goslett, Assistant Regional Director of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He warns however that although it can be an overwhelming experience, buying a home is not a hasty decision to make. “There are a number of factors that buyers need to consider before making one of the biggest investments of their lives,” says Goslett. Goslett highlights five of the most important aspects that buyers need to take note of when searching for property to invest in:

1. Shape, Location and Size of the Stand Consider future plans when deciding on a specific property. “A double-storey home may look attractive now, but how practical will it be once you start a family or as you grow older? Also consider whether or not you will be able to make additions to the home, especially if you plan on inviting your elderly parents to come and live with you one day,” advises Goslett. For property built near rivers or streams, Goslett advises buyers to investigate flood line restrictions imposed by local municipalities.

2. Damp

Goslett says that water damage or rising damp are important aspects to look out for. Poor waterproofing can be expensive to remedy. “Inspect the property properly and look out for scaly or ‘bubbly’ paint that conceals damp ceilings or walls. Get a qualified plumber to investigate if you are unsure and stipulate exactly what needs to be repaired by the current homeowner in the contract before you buy the property.” Sellers on the other hand are advised to point out problem areas to both the estate agent and potential buyer to prevent legal action from being taken at a later stage. The seller should also stipulate what has been agreed with the buyer with regards to plumbing problems and/or water damage in the sales contract.” It is also important to note that although not required by law, buyers may request sellers to furnish them with a certified plumber’s certificate.

3. The Roof

“Look out for deformation along roof lines as it may be a sign of structural failure. “If in doubt, ask a structural engineer to inspect it for you,” comments Goslett. This is especially important if you intend to buy property outside of the rainy season making it difficult to spot problematic and/or occurring leaks.

4. Structural Failure

Says Dennis Kriek, Director at Esaba Consulting Engineers: “Although some cracks are insignificant, structural cracks (deep cracks that appear on both sides of a wall) could be a sign of foundation failure and/or severe structural problems.” Kriek advises sellers to look out for diagonal cracks commencing at the corners of door and window frames. “Extreme polyfiller patch work in or outside a home is another warning sign as most of the time it is indicative of occurring structural problems,” says Kriek. He warns that once a property has been built, structural problems are almost impossible and/or extremely time-consuming and expensive to rectify. “Once again, if in doubt, ask a structural engineer to inspect the home for you,” adds Goslett.

5. Approved Plans of Buildings on Property

According to Adele Kriek of KDC Architectural Design and Building Plans, it is imperative for buyers to consult the local municipality on whether or not all buildings on the property they intend to invest in are approved and fall within building lines. “Buildings not indicated on approved building plans are illegal,” she says. She adds that the current zoning of the property you intend to buy will also affect future expansion and/or development potential the property has. “The home you intend to buy should be zoned according to the approved zoning category of the stand,” says Kriek. Existing servitudes, pipelines and cables should also be present on the approved building plan.

Aside from the ‘big five’ points to look out for when buying a home, Goslett adds that buyers should also familiarise themselves with the following:

  • The swimming pool and its equipment - Ensure that swimming pools aren’t leaking and that pumps and other equipment like chlorinators are in good working order.

  • Electrical wiring - Electrical wiring is expensive to remedy. Although the seller is obliged to provide the buyer with an electrical compliance certificate, it would be worth your while to get an independent electrician to inspect the wiring for you, especially in older homes.

  • Crime rate and burglar proofing - “Don’t just take the seller’s word! Ask for crime statistics at the local police station. Know the safety challenges of the area you are about to invest in. Identify areas in and around the property where safety measures need to be upgraded – take it into account as it can be expensive,” Goslett concludes.


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