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Now is when first-timers should begin shopping

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“It is the best time in the history of South Africa for newcomers to buy property as the market is at rock bottom. I don’t believe it can drop further.”

This is according to Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who says banks are “throwing money at the problem”.

“Finance is readily available and if investors don’t take the opportunity now, they will regret it in three years’ time.” This does not mean, however, that buyers should rush the process, says Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty’s Arnold Maritz.

“Buyers are spoiled for choice in terms of properties for sale, so take your time to access and analyse the market and, with the assistance of a knowledgeable, professional property consultant, you will not just purchase your dream home, but also make the correct investment decision.

“A buyer’s market is an excellent time to invest, so it would be wise to look carefully for the best value for money and always buy in the best area and position you can afford.”

Buyers looking to purchase at the beginning of the year could be competing with international buyers and Knight Frank SA’s Richard Hardie says an alternative is to wait until March or April.

“Winter is a good time to look for property.” He advises buyers get pre-qualified and then look online for properties they can afford. “Or speak to an agent and meet them. Sit down with them, discuss your brief and get them to help, especially if you’re looking in a particular area.”

The current market presents a “wonderful opportunity” for first-time buyers and investors, says Just Property’s Paul Stevens. “There is a good chance you’ll come across an opportunity you would not otherwise get in a seller’s market. Get yourself in a position to buy by getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan. Once you know what you can afford, and you have a certificate proving you can get finance, you’ll be in a strong position to make an offer and be a more attractive buyer.”

Greeff’s Tim Greeff agrees: “Get into the market as soon as possible as the banks are quite lenient. If you have a deposit saved, that is even better. Banks are lending up to 105% at R1.8 million and up to 100% at R5m.”

Advice from Just Property’s Pieter Janse van Rensburg includes:

◆ Do research regarding the policy around pets when purchasing property in a complex.

◆ Ensure your credit profile is good with regard to approval of the mortgage loan.

◆ Consider hidden costs, such as bond registration fees, transfer duties and rates and taxes in addition to your monthly bond repayment. Levies of body corporates and other associations should also be taken into account.

◆ Self-employed should ensure their business’ financial statements are up-to-date and the company is making profits as it will assist them in attaining a home loan.

◆ Research the market to avoid costly mistakes.

◆ Rules of body corporates and other associations should be studied.

He adds: “Study real estate prices in the market and neighbourhood in which the investment will be made to determine if house prices tend upwards or downwards.”

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