The questions you need to ask before making an offer

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

When it comes to buying a home, no question is a bad question. So find out everything there is to know about a potential home on the market before signing on the dotted line.

Before purchasing a home that’s caught your eye, you may want to ask a few handy questions that could make the difference between buying a dream home or buying a dud.

Estate agents are legally bound to tell the truth which is why you should use this to your advantage and ask all the right questions. This will help to confidently determine if you’re picking the right home or making a costly mistake:

Assess the condition of the property:

According to Jan Davel, MD of the RealNet estate agency group, the colour of the house and the clutter in the garage is the least of your worries and should receive little attention when considering whether to sign an offer to purchase.

The aesthetic appeal of a home can always be tweaked to your liking if you decide to move in, but it’s knowing the condition of the property that is vital to consider.

Querying any existing problems or flaws that may accompany the property is information worth knowing.

Davel urges potential buyers to investigate all there is to know about a home of interest, for one’s own benefit.

Most homes in South Africa are sold “as is”, which is why you have a right to know what to anticipate should you decide to purchase.

Liaising with your agent will allow you access to any information on whatever serious faults the seller may have disclosed to the agency.

By familiarising yourself with the problematic areas that exist, you will be able to effectively calculate the cost of repairs and renovations that can be factored into your offer to purchase agreement.

Consider the property’s age:

The upkeep of an older house is generally more expensive, so the age of the property is important to know.

Furniture, flooring and appliances may have been updated to offer a rejuvenated touch, but it’s still essential to establish the age of the property.

The roof, electric wiring and plumbing are the most important areas of a property you need to be especially critical of.

Find out the utility costs:

Knowing what the potential hidden costs of ownership will be, is a great way to decipher if the property is within your affordability range and is the right choice for you.

Rates and taxes differ according to location, so gauging the costs of municipal services for that particular area is worth considering before making any hasty decisions.

Check out the local amenities:

The area surrounding your home can be just as important as the home itself, so make it a point to know exactly what the neighbourhood itself has to offer.

Everybody wants a home that is close to local amenities and is easy to commute to, so take into consideration how near your home is to supermarkets, schools and access to public transport.

Checking the security of the area is just as important to ensure your home isn’t located in an unsafe neighbourhood.

According to Davel, “If the residents are genuinely proud of what it offers and how safe it is, the chances are good that you will like it too.”

Ensure you have good neighbours:

Ensure you ask about everything there is to know about the folk living next door, because having good neighbours is one of the essential factors that turn a house into a home.

It can also sometimes be the deal breaker on whether you decide to purchase a property.

According to Davel, understanding the nature of your potential neighbours will offer a good indication on the type of lifestyle you can anticipate.

People generally like to surround themselves with people they share similar traits and characteristics as themselves. Considering whether your neighbours could be unruly youngsters, quieter families or retired senior citizens, is great to know in order to measure the similarities you may share.

Find out why it’s on the market:

A low tolerance for the neighbour next door could be a reason why the current owner is selling, which is why it’s vital to know why the owner is selling.

There could be a host of other reasons, like work commitments, a relocation venture, or retirement. Whichever the case, knowing the reason will help to decipher if it is a home worth investing in.

Is there room for negotiation?

Gauging how long the property has been on the market for, and any previous offers that may have been presented are factors worth considering. By doing so, you can determine the extent to which the owner may be willing to negotiate on the price tag.

According to Davel, sellers are more likely to negotiate on a home that has been on the market for a longer period of time or have had a previous offer to purchase fall through.

Sellers with newly listed homes on the market who have a variety of offers to consider are less likely to budge on their required price. In this type of situation, Davel urges interested buyers to act swiftly in assuring you are able to secure the deal.


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