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When buying a house planning is key

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Before you head out to hunt for a new home, make sure you have carefully considered every aspect involved

Buying a new home is not as simple as making the decision and then going shopping. There are factors aspiring owners need to consider, and much preparation, particularly financial, they need to plan for.

Even the process of house hunting requires thought and longterm consideration. Planning and research is “very important”, says Craig Mott, Western Cape regional sales manager for the Rawson Property Group.

Buyers need to think about where they are going to be, or want to be, in five or 10 years’ time and keep in mind things like the likelihood of changing jobs, moving to different areas, provinces or countries, having children, and getting married.

“These, together with what you can afford, will automatically lead you to the type of property you’re looking for, whether it’s a bachelor flat, two-bedroom apartment or thee-bedroom family home. It’s recommended to buy on the easy end of affordability and take advantage of the current low interest rate to pay off as much debt as you can.”

Typical first homes include apartments and small houses, either freehold or in complexes, and tend to have lower maintenance requirements which make them perfect for lock-up-and-go lifestyles, he says.

Starter suburbs are often central, or close to major transport arteries for convenient access to shops, entertainment and work, and are typically a little more densely populated with smaller erven and apartment blocks.

“First-time buyers need to understand the process of buying a property and what it entails – for example knowing the process of getting a bond approved, the transferring of ownership, and the legalities involved.”

Getting to know the market is another essential step, Mott says. Only then will buyers be able to recognise a great-value property. “Online listings are a good place to start, but open houses give a more complete picture.”

When considering location, keep in mind house price growth in the area, advises Geoff Lee of Absa Home Loans. “Ideally, you want to purchase in an area that has enjoyed house price growth in the past, and is expected to do so in the years to come.

House price growth can never be guaranteed, but should definitely form part of your location criteria.” Buyers should also remember most people stay in their homes for more than five years before moving on, says Just Property chief executive Paul Stevens.

Much can happen in that time, including marriage, children, career progression and ageing. Buyers should think about what they may need in the future and ask themselves what they need now to get there. They must also do their own research, Stevens says.

“People may comment on property values, crime and other factors, but research what the numbers and statistics really are so you make an informed decision. 

Local security companies, your real estate agent and property portals can all give you objective information.” Mott says the most important element to consider should always be affordability – not only what kind of financing you qualify for, but also how much you can spare from your monthly budget for additional expenses like rates, insurance, repairs and maintenance.

The prequalification process will help first-time buyers define a realistic price range for their property search . Once they know what they can afford, says Ynnis Wilson, a branch manager at Jawitz Properties, buyers will be able to determine which area best suits their needs in terms of proximity to work, schools, the type of accommodation required, and lifestyle must-haves within their affordability range.

Remember property is not a shortterm investment. “Consider your five-to-seven-year plan before deciding what type of home you need. There is no age limit to firsttime ownership so this will also have an impact on the type of property purchased.

“Unless you’re buying in a development, a property is sold voetstoots, with all the visible and non-visible defects. To protect yourself from unforeseen expenses down the line, ensure you fully acquaint yourself with the property and all it offers. A property inspection report is worth the expense.”

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