The non-negotiable list for first time home buyers

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Before you start your search for a new home, it’s important to put together a list of things that you will not compromise on. This will help you home in on the perfect property.

Buying your first home can be a daunting task and this may not be helped by the plethora of advice most of us receive when we first decide to invest in property.

Our parents will have much to say on the subject and sadly, many are likely to try and put their children off making such a major financial commitment. Believe it or not, estate agents can also cause a little confusion particularly if they are trying to push a certain property or a certain suburb onto a naïve buyer.

Then come the headlines and articles that range from telling us that it's a good time or a bad time to buy property, to confusing us with statistics that would only make sense to a seasoned investor.

We all have questions and many of these have to be answered by yourself long before you go on an actual house hunt.

Buyers need to give the whole home buying process a lot of thought and answer things like:
• How much can I afford to spend?
• In what area should I be buying?
• Should I invest in a brand new property or invest in an existing home?

Factors that could be non-negotiables

While buyers may be willing to compromise some of their needs surrounding the purchase, they will undoubtedly regard some issues as being totally non-negotiable and something that will have to be factored in to the buying decision.
The price, minimum size of the property, how many bedrooms and bathrooms are needed as well as the area in which the property is situated are often factors that fall into this category.

Of course some things are more negotiable than others and although it may be desirable to find a home with a certain number of bedrooms, if you are planning to start a family, additional rooms may be built on at a later stage if you buy a property that has room for expansion.

Choose the location carefully
Another non-negotiable may be where the property is situated. Living in the centre of all the action may well appeal to the younger generation, but noise and the general mayhem surrounding areas with a hectic nightlife or popular shopping facilities can prove to be a turn off later on. Buying a home is a serious business and yes, while you can always sell up when your needs change, the whole home buying process needs to be viewed as a long term investment and not a short term “I've changed my mind” scenario.

Buyers should consider making a list of the ‘must-have’s’ they need in a home. Don't rush it, take your time and consider every aspect of your life that your new home needs to cater for.

Get an education

Any buyer investing in property needs to thoroughly educate themselves before making a buying decision. It's highly advisable to visit a variety of showhouses in your chosen area before making a purchasing decision. Chat to local estate agents to find out what's happening in the market in order to establish what you will be dealing with once you start getting really serious about the whole home buying exercise. Is it a buyer’s market or do sellers still hold all the cards and what are the average selling prices of homes in the area, are just some of the questions that need to be asked. Ask agents to show you the property stats and explain what they mean in real terms in order to give you a thorough understanding of what's happening on the sales front in a particular suburb.

When the time comes to actually go out and seriously start looking for a home, take your non-negotiable list with you and try not to let your emotions get the better of you when you think you've found the perfect home and don't overlook what you deem important. Yes, the spa bath in the main bathroom may be appealing, but it isn't going to make up for the fact that you are a two car family and the home only has one garage. Likewise, the kitchen may be something Gordon Ramsey would write home about, but it's not going to help if the home is situated in a non-desirable area.

Keep your wits about you and you'll find the right home, and while it may not tick all of your boxes, it will make for happy living in the long run.

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