Advice and Opinion

Seeff’s guide to searching for property online

Modern day living relies heavily on the internet and the latest technology – we can access almost anything we want or need by simply tapping a screen pad, resulting in instant gratification.

Social media and online shopping is part of our everyday vocabulary and we have a Smartphone Application accessible for everything imaginable. It is no wonder that this way of life is now also impacting the way we are browsing property to buy.

Charles Vining, Seeff’s Managing Director in Sandton, says searching for property online is a fantastic timesaver and property portals enable people to view many different properties by many different estate agents at a glance, making it very convenient too.

“There are some disadvantages however; of which the most important one is that the whole process could be rather overwhelming. When you log onto any of the property portals you may find hundreds of property options and the same property repeated in several listings because many agents may be working on the same property”.

This can make it difficult to know exactly where to start. When looking at a single particular agency however the advantage is that there is no repetitiveness.

“I would suggest using broad parameters when searching for property online, like for example the area where you are going to search in. Start with your key suburb and then use Google maps to understand the surrounding suburbs. You never know what sort of property at what sort of price is available in the suburbs immediately neighbouring the suburb that you are interested in”.

Vining also recommends that you look at 20% below your budget amount and 20% above your budget amount when it comes to price.

“The reason for this is that when you search below your budget amount you may find very good deals. It could be that a seller is in a particular hurry to sell or that the property needs a bit of maintenance. Both these factors would enable you to buy at a lower price all the while still meeting many of your other needs”.

The below defects are often left by the seller for the buyer to resolve and in most cases like the seller would be open to negotiation and will be willing to drop the price of the home by 3% to 5% if the buyer fixes it themselves.

These defects could be repaired with minimal cost for the buyer – so it could be worth it not to ask the seller to repair them and rather negotiate the selling price.

They include; minor leaks, cracks in the pool or old marbelite, old or peeling paint, uneven paving due to roots, dings in cupboard or kitchen doors, dripping taps, old worn carpets, old or broken tiles, cracked windows, old stoves or hobs, gutters broken or in need of a paint, dated bathrooms or kitchens, broken irrigation system, doors that need varnishing, overgrown gardens.

“In terms of searching above your budget, this is also an astute decision as many sellers are open to negotiation. What is important before you go view the property though, is to speak to the estate agent and tell him/her that the current price is above your budgeted amount and you would be looking at making a lower offer once you have viewed the property”.

“The agent would then be able to tell you whether that is feasible or not and whether the owner would consider offers below the selling price”.

“Lastly, you need to consider the type of property (for instance a flat versus a townhouse). Again I suggest slightly broader parameters – if you are looking for a cluster for instance also make a point of looking at townhouses and houses in estates even though you may not have previously considered this type of property. You might miss out on a good deal if you don’t consider other types of property in more or less the same price range”.

Vining concludes that as a buyer you will probably have a list of non-negotiables like requiring a double garage or a three bedroom home and it is important to use these criteria from the get-go when searching properties online in order to eliminate properties that don’t work for you.

“Once you have created a shortlist of the properties you like, speak to the estate agent and make an appointment to view not more than three to five properties”.