Advice and Opinion

House Hunting 101 – what prospective buyers need to consider

Buying a home is the single largest expense you will most likely incur in your lifetime, however finding your ideal home can be a mammoth task.

“There is a reason that it takes people months to find their perfect home – it is a long term commitment that requires plenty of planning and research. When you are considering buying property, be it as an investment or a home to live in, it has to meet your financial and personal needs. Furthermore the home has to be worth its monetary value,” says Albertus van Staden – Head of Credit at FNB Housing Finance.

Can you afford it?

One of the principal factors that will influence the type of home that you can purchase is your affordability, so before you can even start looking for your home, first do some research to identify what you can afford.

“There are online tools such as FNB’s Property leader that can give you an estimated loan amount. Keep in mind that this amount is based on an assumed interest rate and may not be what you will receive from the banks, so perhaps take 10% off this amount to give you a better chance of bond approval first time around,” says Van Staden.

Furthermore you would need to do proper research on how much you can expect to pay on rates and taxes, levies or HOA levies, which would vary depending on whether the property is a sectional title or a freehold – these costs are sometimes a big part of your monthly cost.

“Once you have a clear indication of what you can afford then the fun part begins; looking for your ideal home.” adds Van Staden.

Location, Location, Location

When looking for a home the location of the property is an important factor.

“When you buy a home you also inherit the neighbourhood that the property is in. It is important to have a look at the appreciation value of the properties in that area so that you can understand the future value of your property as this will influence the value of your property should you want to sell in future. A great way to spot the trends of the area that you are interested in is to set up alerts to receive updates on new properties that are listed in your shortlist of areas. You may even go as far as to get an area report on a location which may help you to negotiate the price of the property,” advises Van Staden.

An additional factor to consider is the security of the area and how close you are to amenities such as malls and schools as well as the accessibility of main roads from your property – these all add to the value of your investment. Also consider any possible future developments that may take place in the area. For example, a new mall or school which may improve the demand for your property in the future.

View, view, and view some more

Viewing property is the best way to get an accurate feel for the home that you will be buying. These days it is easy to sit behind your computer and view from a property website. However when you go to the property itself you will get an idea of additional things that you should consider such the status of the neighborhood and whether it is quiet or noisy. You also get to see whether the complex you want to buy in is well kept. It is also very important to ask for the body corporate financials, as you do not want to be left with nasty special levies to pay arrears accounts.

“The property online will always be presented in its best light. So going to view will give you the opportunity to assess the condition of things such as the roof and the gutters; you will also be able to tell if the property is close to a highway or a railway station – which are things that are most likely to cause noise at night,” says Van Staden.

Get a second and third opinion

Once you’ve found the property that makes your heart skip a beat. The next step would be to ask a close relative to view the property with you; they may notice a damp spot or a crack in the wall which could indicate a more serious problem like structural damage.

“Often when you find a property that meets all your requirements, it is easy to blindly overlook potential problem areas. This is why it is important to get a family member that is knowledgeable regarding property to have a look at your prospective home,” says Van Staden.

Hire a property inspector

In addition, and most importantly you may go as far as to hire a property inspector. The property inspector will inspect the property and give you a detailed report on the property’s interior and exterior – they will highlight structural concerns, risks and also recommend solutions on how these can be repaired.

“Buying a home is a hefty investment and you can never be too careful. Taking the time out to do your research and going the extra mile to check that you are inheriting a solid property, may be time consuming, however it is the best way to ensure that you can live happily ever after in your new home,” concludes Van Staden.