Foolproof your home buying checklist

Before beginning the house hunting process, buyers have usually established some sort of list of criteria that they are looking for in a property. 

But, says Debbie Justus-Ferns, divisional manager of Renprop Residential Resales, these criteria usually only cover the obvious basics required and neglect or gloss over the details. “When committing to a long-term investment, the details count.”

Listing photographs don’t always showcase the property in a way that accurately reflects all of its features or lack thereof, and the property descriptions can also sometimes be pretty vague. In light of this, Justus-Ferns says that before setting out on a physical house hunting mission, buyers should work through a solid checklist that also includes a list of deal-breakers. Another checklist should be drawn up for when each property selected is viewed.

So just what kind of details should these checklists include? “Any initial buyer checklist will include all the basics in terms of the location, number of bedrooms, bathrooms and other basic accommodation requirements as well as a list of features required such as a swimming pool or large garden,” says Justus-Ferns. “But,” she says, “it should also include some detail on size requirements, with rough guidelines in terms of stand size and how big the house should be under roof and exclusive use areas for a complex. Many listing adverts don’t display this information, so it would be worth finding out before checking out the property in person.”

Other details that are often not included on listing adverts are the levies and/or rates that will be payable each month. “This is a very important detail. It’s all well and fine to know that you can afford the monthly bond repayment, but remember that levies for the complex, estate or boomed-off area as well as rates and taxes due on the property also need to be factored into your monthly budget to determine whether or not you can really afford the property,” says Justus-Ferns.

She also points out that a factor which is often overlooked by those moving into an estate or complex are the rules and regulations applicable to residents as well as the estate/complex policy on pets. “There have been many cases where people only discover after they have signed an offer to purchase or moved into a complex that they are not allowed pets or that they have a problem with some of the rules they need to adhere to. At this point it’s too late, as the property purchase is in progress or complete, which obviously has disastrous consequences. Buyers would therefore be wise to include these points on their checklist.”

Other questions that Justus-Ferns recommends buyers include on their checklist when they are viewing a property are:

·         Are the financials of the body corporate sound?

·         Is the seller up-to-date in respect of their municipal rates and taxes?

·         What renovations have been done and are the updated plans available?

·         Are there any parking issues? This is especially important in complexes and estates.

Added to this, Justus-Ferns suggests that buyers add a list of deal breakers to their checklist. She explains that these deal breakers are the points that would make a buyer walk away and move on to look at the next home. “This list would mainly comprise a range of defects that a property could have that a buyer just doesn’t want to deal with or have to fix.”

Items to check could include:

·         Damp issues

·         Cell phone reception/Internet connection

·         Plumbing problems

·         Leaks or other roof issues

·         Structural defects

·         Special Levies if applicable (for home owners’ associations and sectional title complexes)

“Buying a property cannot be a decision that is made lightly, and it’s a pretty big-ticket purchase to have buyer’s remorse on. While all these checklists and details that buyers need to consider may seem tedious, the time and effort will be well worth it in the end when the property you buy is the one that suits all your requirements and you feel you have made a good investment,” Justus-Ferns concludes.

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