With access to technology becoming increasingly more attainable, it has become easier than ever to start looking for a home online. However, the volume of listings available on property search portals can be rather overwhelming, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Statistics reveal that nine out of every ten prospective home buyers will look to the internet before making use of any other type of resource when starting their home buying journey. “Potential buyers are choosing the internet as the resource of choice because of the convenience it provides. Users can access massive volumes of information at the click of a button without leaving the comfort of their home or office. However, while access to the vast amounts of information is why many start their search online, exposure to such high volumes of property listings could make the search harder if you don’t have a way of narrowing down their search criteria,” says Goslett.
He provides a few tips to help filter down search results and make it easier to streamline the list of homes you would like to see in person:
Before looking at any homes online or otherwise, know what you can afford. It is best to start the home buying journey by assessing your finances and getting pre-approval on home loan finance. Contacting a bank or bond origination company who will assist in determining what you can afford and what price range of homes to start searching in advised Goslett. “Bear in mind that it is best to leave a bit of cushioning in the budget. It is important to remain within a price range that doesn’t stretch the budget to the absolute high-end of the scale. When entering search criteria online be sure to choose a price range that fits comfortably into the budget’s limits.”
Searching for homes that fit comfortably within the budget will provide you with some room to negotiate should you find yourself in a multiple offer situation. “It provides the flexibility to be competitive in the market, and submit a counter offer if necessary. You will be able to put in a higher offer on a home without it putting you under too much financial strain.”
Check the map
Don’t get caught up with the images of the property and forget to look at its location. A home might have been newly renovated and is picture perfect, but where it is located will determine its potential for appreciation in value over time. You can change a home, but not its location. “Look at the map to see where the home is situated and how that ties in with your requirements. Before contacting the listing agent, consider the property’s proximity to work, good schools and amenities,” says Goslett.
Narrow down your top neighbourhoods
Each neighbourhood or suburb within a city will have a different sub-culture and feel. “While all part of the same city, different neighbourhoods will cater to different kinds of buyers and lifestyles. While family buyers may want to live in the quieter suburbs that are close to schools, younger buyers may prefer to be in fast-paced hubs. Searching for specific neighbourhoods will greatly filter down the property search,” says Goslett.
Remember to balance character with upkeep
An older home may fit your criteria regarding features, but it could come at the cost of updating or fixing certain elements of the home. “Newer homes are often smaller but will require less maintenance from the start. It is important to find the balance between a home’s character and its upkeep,” says Goslett.
Photos and videos only focus on certain aspects
Even though technology has reached the point where one can take a virtual tour of a home, viewing a property in this way is still restrictive to a degree. “An online search is an ideal method to narrow down a property search, but seeing a home in person will give you a much better feel for the home,” says Goslett. “Walking through a home in person will clear up any uncertainties you may have and will help you to decide whether or not you can see yourself living in the property,” he concludes.