Decisions that need to be made before the home search begins

Many consumers may find themselves in a position where they know they want to buy a home, but they are not entirely sure where to start. 

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that there are a number of decisions that potential home buyers need to make before they start on their home purchasing journey. He notes that by asking themselves the right questions, would-be homeowners will be able to narrow down their search from the start and will be able to pinpoint what they want and what they can afford in no time.

Goslett poses a few questions that will help buyers to find the right home to meet their needs:

What is the budget?

Determining what you can afford is the first step in narrowing down the home search. “Buyers need to know what they will be able to afford on a monthly basis, bearing in mind this must include the bond repayment, as well as the other costs associated with homeownership such as insurance and maintenance,” says Goslett. “A bond originator such as Betterlife Home Loans, or a real estate professional will be able to help buyers assess what they can afford to spend on a home.”

He notes that applying for pre-approval on home loan finance will give the buyer an idea of how much a lender would be willing to finance. Additionally, pre-approval will show sellers that the buyer is serious about the sale and has access to the available finance to purchase the property.

What features do you need?

It is important that the home the buyer selects meets their family and lifestyle needs. Goslett says that a buyer will need to decide on the features they require for both their current circumstances as well as their future plans. He notes that buyers will have to decide on how many bedrooms or bathrooms they need, and make decisions around a home office or a granny flat. They will also need to determine how much parking is required and whether or not they require a large garden for their children and pets. The answers to these questions will vary depending on the buyer’s life stage and individual requirements.

Sectional title or freehold property?

Sectional title units are less maintenance intensive for homeowners. “All exterior maintenance of the property and the complex are taken care of by the body corporate, however this will require the homeowner to pay a levy or monthly association fee to cover services and repairs within the development,” says Goslett. “On the other hand, freehold homes come with more privacy and the freedom to add on or renovate without requiring permission from the body corporate. Along with the freedom comes the full financial responsibility for all maintenance.”  

Will you be living under association regulations?

Depending on where the buyer decides to purchase, they may have to pay a homeowner’s association (HOA) fee in addition to their bond repayment and will be subject to conform to the regulations of that association. While there are benefits to belonging to a HOA, such as maintenance on the common areas, there are often restrictive rules that govern the homeowners. These could include the look and style of the exterior of the property, which could take into account the colour paint used on the home or whether or not the homeowner is allowed to plant flowers in the front garden. Buying a home that falls under a HOA means that the buyer is agreeing to the terms of the HOA.

What schools are in the area?

This is important regardless of whether or not there are children in the home, because proximity to good schools will have an impact on the property’s value and appreciation potential in the future. Many prospective homeowners look for properties in a particular area based on the schools that are located in that neighbourhood. For this reason, it is important to research the schools available in the area, irrespective of whether the buyer has children or plans to have children in the future.

Ready-to-move-in home or fixer upper?

Goslett says that the answer to this question will be determined by how much time and money a buyer is willing to spend on a home before they are able to live in it. “If the buyer can see a home’s potential and is willing wait until all the renovations have been done before moving in, then a fixer-upper can be a great option. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of the possible cost involved to get the home to where it meets its potential,” says Goslett.

He notes that for those who are not ready for the extra commitment – both financial and time wise -  of renovating a property, a ready-to-move-in home is probably the right choice.

“Once all of the decisions have been made, the buyer can enjoy the journey of finding the right home for them and their family. Having a clear understanding of what they are looking for will narrow down the search and assist in pinpointing the right home,” Goslett concludes.

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