Tips for buying a home if you’re single

Private Property South Africa
Private Property Reporter

Planning, saving and research are key factors to successfully purchase a home. For single home buyers it is especially important to take the correct steps to ensure that you house hunt with success.

Married couples may represent a significant percentage of first-time buyers in the property market, but property purchases by single home buyers are also beginning to increase.

Buying a home is hardly a simple process for anyone and it can be especially challenging for buyers that are entering the market solo. Although it may seem difficult at first, according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, it can be an excellent financial move, if done correctly.

Goslett provides a few tips on how single home buyers can successfully house hunt and invest in property:

Stay within your budget:

Buying a home on your own is a fantastic move but it’s most likely going to be the longest and largest financial commitment you take on. It’s essential to scrutinize your finances carefully and draw up a budget to assess your affordability. Recurring monthly expenses, like home maintenance and repairs are essential expenses to include.

According to Goslett, another important aspect when determining your budget, is considering a portion of money that can be put aside as a contingency fund in the event of an emergency. “Considering there will only be one person responsible for the bond repayment, there needs to be enough money put away to counter any unexpected circumstances or loss of income,” says Goslett.

Being a single homeowner means your budget may be smaller, without the additional help from a partner to pay the bills, which is why it’s especially important for solo buyers to manage their money smartly.

Be smart and save beforehand:

There are numerous upfront costs to consider when signing off on a home purchase. These include everything from transfer duty costs, attorney fees and bond costs that need to be paid. Most buyers are also required to have a deposit of between 10% and 25% of the purchase price of the property in today’s market. For these reasons, Goslett stresses the importance of saving beforehand to ensure you have the funds to successfully conclude your home purchase.

Choose the right home for you:

It’s important to know what you want when home buying. Considering your future plans when house hunting will also help to narrow down your search to a type that will be most suited to your requirements.

“Are you looking for a home with the potential to add-on or merely a small starter home that can be rented out in the future? The answer to these questions will help the buyer narrow down their search and pinpoint the right property to meet their needs,” says Goslett.

Different types of homes come at varying costs. A sectional title property for example would require less maintenance and a lower bond repayment but there would be rules and regulations of the body corporate as well as the cost of the levies to consider. Alternatively, a freehold home gives you the freedom to do as you please around the house but it may be a lot more expensive to maintain and not as secure.

Weighing up your choices in accordance to your essential needs and wants will ensure you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Be realistic:

Buying a property on your own means a smaller budget which can make finding the ideal home difficult. Single home buyers may find the need to compromise on certain features or aspects of a home.

“Ideally it is advisable to look at location before the property itself. A property can be renovated or changed, but where it is situated cannot. It is important to research the areas that are within the budget and then work from there” says Goslett.

Buying a home in a safer neighbourhood would be a wiser investment and will stand a better chance at reaping greater returns in the long run.

Determine the reason for the purchase:

It’s important to determine if the home you’re choosing to buy will be for investment purposes or a primary residence to live in. Knowing your reason for purchase will play a significant role in the decisions you make and the home you choose to settle for. When opting for a primary residence, you tend to make decisions influenced by emotion, whereas with investment properties, your decisions are likely to be driven by logic and research, says Goslett.

If needed, ask for help:

Entering the property market as a single homebuyer doesn’t mean you have to go through the process alone. Drawing advice from friends and family who are familiar with the buying and selling of property will allow you to receive honest and objective advice. A property specialist, like a reputable real estate agent is also a valuable asset worth considering. Real estate agents will be able to provide essential guidance, area information and advice on the best properties to suit both your lifestyle and budget.

“While going it alone can be overwhelming at times, purchasing a home solo should also be an exciting time. It provides the buyer with the opportunity to make their own decisions and choose a home that they really to buy,” Goslett concludes.

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