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Expert advises potential owner to thoroughly research neighbourhood

Many first-time buyers who are excited about owning property underestimate the importance of choosing a good location, until area or neighbourhood challenges pressurise them to move.  

Calvin Ndlovu, head of operations at FNB Home Loans, says before signing on the dotted line, buyers should research neighbourhoods and make informed decisions based on their individual circumstances. 

He says there are several things potential buyers should look out for when researching a neighbourhood:  

  • Engage homeowners: Buyers should speak to homeowners in the area to find out what they love most about their neighbourhood and what, if any, challenges are being faced. 
  • Houses for sale: They should check the rate at which houses are being sold as well as the reasons, if possible. “Often, if many people are eager to sell, there could be a cause for concern. Similarly, if only few properties are sold, there’s a likelihood it’s a good neighbourhood,” he says.
  • Property prices: Ndlovu encourages buyers to ask their agents for area reports and check how prices have grown over the past five to 10 years. If prices are not growing as expected, try to establish why, while taking economic factors into account.  
  • Crime: Although no area is a 100% crime-free, Ndlovu says some areas are of more concern than others. “Area crime statistics can give you a good indication of what to expect.”
  • Schools and day care: Many first-time property owners move to be closer to schools and day care for their children. Even if they do not yet have children, buyers should take this into consideration for the future.
  • Amenities: Early-morning traffic and travelling far to get to amenities can catch up with people in the long run. “If you are planning to buy outside a town, think carefully about your decision.”
  • Use technology: There are a number of innovative tools and apps, such as FNB’s nav>> Home, allow customers to access reports and get information on an area, price trends, points of interest, number of houses sold as well as area lifestyle characteristics. 

“Taking time to plan ahead and research a neighbourhood when buying property will not only save you time and money, but will also give you and your family peace of mind,” Ndlovu says.

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