Top tips for buying a newly-built home

An increasing number of SA homebuyers are electing to buy newly-built rather than pre-owned homes, and there are a number of very good reasons for doing so, says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of SA’s leading mortgage originator BetterLife Home Loans.

“For most buyers, the most important of these is the cash they save because there is no transfer duty payable on homes bought directly from a developer or builder. Instead, VAT is assumed to be included in the purchase price – provided of course that the developer is registered as a VAT vendor.”

Another big plus, he says, is that new property developments by established building or development companies are often “pre-approved” by a lender, making it much easier for prospective buyers in these projects to obtain home loans.    

“In addition, residential developers often give buyers the opportunity to choose their own fittings and finishes, and sometimes even the chance to customise the layout of their new home and garden to suit their own needs.

“And on top of that, new homes in SA come with certain structural guarantees and must comply with certain ‘green’ design and building principles that make them more eco-friendly and energy-efficient – all of which translates into less maintenance and long-term savings for their owners.”

However, Rademeyer notes, there are also quite a few potential pitfalls that those who are considering a newly-built home need to avoid if they want their home-buying experience to be as exciting and fulfilling as it should be. These include:

*Deposit scams when buying “off-plan”. Anyone can print a fancy brochure full of floorplans and attractive pictures. But you should never sign an offer to purchase a home that has yet to be built unless you have seen the land where it will be built and established that the developer has a good reputation, is registered with the National Home Builders Registration Council and has a track record of successfully completed projects.

In addition, you must make sure that any deposit you are asked to pay is going into the trust account of an attorney or any estate agent so you will not lose your money if something goes wrong with the development or the building company.

*Long-term developments. It can be exciting and financially rewarding to be one of the first owners in a new development. But you need to know that the project will be finished and fully-developed within a reasonable period. If there are 50 stands, for example, and only 20 homes have been built in the development in the past five years, that is not a good sign and you should probably give it a miss unless the developer can prove to you that the other 30 stands have now been sold and that building on them will be completed within the next few months.

Otherwise you could find yourself living on a “building site” for several years, and unable to sell because the levy income from a handful of owners is insufficient to provide the type of security and the additional facilities that were promised.

*Too many “extras” and upgrades. Check your plans and building contract very carefully before you sign for a newly-built home to see exactly what building materials, equipment, fittings and finishes are included in the specifications – and what else would be regarded as “extra” for which you would have to pay an additional amount.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that all the top-of-the-line finishes that you see in the developer’s show-home will automatically be included in your home – or that the rooms in your home will be the same size. A whole lot of the features you like most may not actually be included in the basic contract, and including them could put the home beyond your budget.

In addition, if you do decide to opt for upgrades, you should not just accept a whole package. Consider each item to see if you really need it or could live without it, and make everything you choose is individually specified in your building contract along with its price.

*No completion or handover date. Your contract must contain a date by which your new home will be finished and ready for occupation – or by which, if it is not finished, you will be entitled to cancel the contract and get all the money back that you have paid so far, including the deposit and any progress payments made to a builder.

If it does not contain this clause, you could find yourself at the mercy of a builder who is taking years to finish the project while you make bond repayments on a home you cannot occupy.

*No provision to rectify problems. Even newly-built homes can have faults – and whether it is a cracked tile or a major water leak, you should not have to live with it or pay to get it fixed before you’ve even unpacked. So you must make sure that your building contract says you will have a certain number of days after taking occupation to draw up a “snag” list of defects for the developer or builder to fix before you finally sign the Occupation Certificate. You should also retain the right to call in an independent and professional home inspector to help you at this point, especially if this is your first home purchase.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 24 Nov 2017
      There are some things that money can’t buy – spectacular views from Mouille Point to the V&A Waterfront and a trendy and lively neighbourhood that encapsulates the very best of the Cape Town lifestyle.
    • 24 Nov 2017
      Tshwane’s four-bedroom Mayoral mansion, nestled among ambassadorial residences in the upmarket suburb of Muckleneuk, fetched R5.1 million after spirited bidding at High Street Auctions’ final sale of the year.
    • 23 Nov 2017
      Reserve Bank Governor, Lesetja Kganyago, said that the Monetary Policy Committee had once again decided to let the interest rates remain unchanged with the repo rate at 6.75%, and the prime lending rate at 10.25%.
    • 23 Nov 2017
      As the holiday season approaches, most of us are counting the days until that year-end bonus hits our account. There’s nothing quite like a little bank balance booster to get us in the holiday spirit.
    • 23 Nov 2017
      The Adelphi Centre (now entitled “ARTEM") in Sea Point, Cape Town, is being extensively renovated, and once complete will offer an ultra-luxurious galleria style shopping centre unlike any other seen on the Atlantic Seaboard or in Cape Town.
    • 23 Nov 2017
      If you are looking to sell your home in today’s real estate market, there are certain things that you need to include both inside and outside your house. Today’s generation of home buyers is looking toward a more eco-friendly, energy and water conscious home, and if your house stands out then you are more likely to be able to sell it.
    • 22 Nov 2017
      Most people know of the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) and that levies must to paid to fund its operations. In this article the experts at Paddocks will address some of the issues that are causing confusion.
    • 22 Nov 2017
      While sales have noticeably slowed in most sectors in most Cape town suburbs, the security estate sector in Constantiaberg has bucked the trend by remaining buoyant, with sales by August this year already surpassing total sales in 2016.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us