Taking the stress out of buying a property

It’s a new year, you have new goals and homeownership is one of them. So now what? Debbie Justus-Ferns, divisional manager of Renprop Residential Resales, says that those who are looking to buy property in the year ahead should ensure they are well prepared in order to ensure a smooth transaction.

“Buying a property is a big decision for anyone to make and the process can be stressful even though it is exciting,” she says. “Buyers should therefore make sure that they are adequately prepared before they start house hunting.”

Justus-Ferns provides buyers with a step-by-step overview to help them prepare for the biggest financial decision they are bound to make in their lifetimes:

Step one: Do your research

The first step to take when looking to purchase a property is getting prequalified with a financial institution for home loan finance. Justus-Ferns says that this is an important first step as it will give buyers a clear indication of the price brackets they can work within. “This will save time when searching for properties as ones that don’t meet the budget can be taken out of the equation early on.”

Once a price range has been determined, buyers can start researching areas that they would like to live in. Here proximity to work, schools and amenities will play a large part in the decision making process. “Well priced properties, proximity to schools, security features as well as the overall safety of the suburb are what sell homes,” says Justus-Ferns.

Step two: Get your finances in order

Before actually going to look at any properties, Justus-Ferns says that buyers must ensure that their finances are in order. This means either having already saved up for a deposit, or knowing that they will be granted 100% bond.

Buyers who have to sell their current property in order to purchase another one should sell the property before making an offer on another one if at all possible. “The reason for this,” Justus-Ferns explains, “is that purchasers will have far better buying power, if they are able to put in an unconditional offer on the home they want to buy. Sellers take the quality of the offer as well as the price offered into consideration and clean offers, without any subject to clauses, other than bond finance are always preferable.”

Step three: Let the hunt begin

Once step one and two have been taken care of, buyers can start looking for their ideal home. Here lists of the areas and the price brackets determined in step one, plus lists detailing the buyers’ accommodation requirements and other ‘must have’ features are important as they will assist in refining a list of properties the buyer would like to view.

 Justus-Ferns advises buyers to check out the homes that they are interested in thoroughly. “This includes flushing toilets and running taps to check the plumbing works as well as turning on lights and checking for any possible damp on the walls that may be evident,” she says.

 While all fixtures and fittings legally need to be left intact when sellers move out, there are always some ambiguous items. Buyers should check with the agent who is showing them the home which items will be left behind by the owners and which items will be taken from the property to avoid any incorrect assumptions, notes Justus-Ferns.

Step four: Make sure you are in the know before making an offer

Before making an offer on a property, buyers need to be sure that they have noted any potential major defects that are visible to the naked eye.

Those who are buying into sectional title complexes and estates need to ensure that they are pet friendly if they have pets, and obtain a list of the rules to avoid any issues after the offer has been signed and they have moved in. “Buyers into sectional title complexes also must request a copy of the latest financials to review so that they know the complex they are buying into is financially sound,” says Justus-Ferns. “The implementation of special levies or a big increase in the levy could come as quite a shock to new homeowners.”

Step five: Find out about all the associated costs and conditions

Justus-Ferns points out that this is perhaps the most important step for buyers, as there are many costs that are not taken into consideration from an affordability point of view that should be.

“Buyers should find out what the total transfer costs on the property will be. These will include transfer costs to the transferring attorneys who the seller nominates, plus the bond registration cost if the buyers are applying for a home loan, which is payable to the bond attorney, who the bank nominates,” she says.

Justus-Ferns also advises buyers to clarify the costs of all monthly rates, taxes and levies that they will be liable for as homeowners in order to ensure that they can afford the monthly bond repayments together with these additional expenses.

 There are many different factors that buyers have to take into account when purchasing a home and each aspect should be carefully considered before signing an offer to purchase, as it is a legally binding document. “Once buyers have worked through these steps, they can be reasonably confident they have covered all their bases and are indeed ready to buy a home,” Justus-Ferns concludes.

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