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Tips to make a first buy go smoothly

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Carefully consider your needs and then do your research

Venturing into the property market for the first time can be daunting and is sometimes enough to dissuade buyers from taking the plunge,

Being prepared with the right advice can make this process “smooth sailing”, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

Greeff’s first tip for first-time buyers is that they should do their research.

“This applies to the property you are considering, the area you are looking at, the amenities in the area and property trends in the area.

“The type of property should suit your needs. Those needs may be immediate or future-oriented, but ultimately they should be clear.”

Questions first-time buyers should ask themselves include:

  • Do I need a family home?
  • Is the family growing bigger in the future?
  • Do I need extra space for a home office?
  • Do I want an apartment, house or unit in a security estate?

The area which buyers are considering should have the amenities that are important to them. However, no area will have every amenity available without some driving.

“It pays to be practical and pragmatic, especially when plotting your morning and afternoon commute,” Greeff says.

Parents should pay special attention to educational, recreational and extra-mural facilities within a 10 to 15-minute radius of their intended home, he says.

“It also pays to research the area as to the property values and trends over the past five to 10 years. Driving around the area helps one get a feel for it. Speaking to some of the residents also provides valuable insight into the pros and cons of the neighbourhood.”

First-time buyers should ensure their financial state is healthy and get pre-approval for a bond from their bank or lending institution. This will let help them establish how much they can spend.

However, while it may be tempting to take advantage of the full amount on offer from the bank, Greeff says it pays to keep in mind transfer costs, as well as new home expenses like moving costs, utilities, furniture and possible minor home improvements.

“Having a good credit rating will make you a better lending prospect. One should avoid creating more credit prior to applying for a home loan as it could mean the difference between getting that approval letter from the bank or not. Additionally, saving up for a deposit is a key way in which you can aid the process as it will help ensure you qualify for the bond.”

Greeff says a 10% deposit on the selling price of the home is standard best practice.

Enlisting the services of a reputable real estate agency which can offer invaluable insight into area trends, market prices and the art of negotiation is also recommended.

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