Tardy buyers, tenants are ‘shooting own-goals’

"In our experience," says Nelis Bezuidenhout of the RealNet Wapadglen franchise in Pretoria, "properties that are priced right and offer good value sell within a week and dithering buyers are losing out on good opportunities."

Bezuidenhout, who specialises in townhouses in the eastern suburbs of Faerie Glen, Garsfontein, Olympus and Wapadrand, adds that the Internet is a double-edged sword in this respect.

"The ‘Net has certainly made it easier for prospective buyers to source properties for sale but, at the same time, many buyers are so overwhelmed by the number of listed properties that they find it difficult to narrow down their search.

"And some buyers are so confused by the perceived abundance of properties on offer that they cannot even settle on a realistic price bracket. For instance, buyers will want to view properties in the range between R500 000 and R1m and then find it very difficult to compare value. This leads to further delays - and often when they do make up their minds the property of choice has already been sold."

Bezuidenhout advises prospective buyers to sit down and carefully weigh up what type of property they want at what price before they start viewing properties. "It is easier to make a sound decision if you are very clear about what you really want and what you can afford. You will also save a lot of time and effort if you do not view unsuitable properties."

He has the same advice for prospective tenants. “A few years ago, townhouses in Pretoria East were predominantly targeted by investors who let their properties. "However, most current buyers are buying property for own use, which has put rental stock under pressure. Prospective tenants who dawdle to sign a lease often find that someone else has beaten them to it."

He adds that now is a good time to buy townhouses in this area since they have generally held value and even showed small year-on-year price escalations since 2009.

First-time buyers and parents who have children attending tertiary institutions in Pretoria are currently active in the market. Student accommodation in the area has grown more popular among out-of-town buyers because it offers better value than suburbs close to campuses. Bezuidenhout says a one-bedroom flat in Hatfield, for instance, now costs virtually the same as a two-bedroom unit in the eastern suburbs. "And many parents also prefer to let their children stay in quieter suburbs further away from campus."

Stack units in Olympus are especially popular at the moment. Two-bedroom units of 85sqm on the first floor now sell at prices ranging from R530 000 to R550 000 while similar units on the ground floor sell from R550 000 to R590 000, he says.

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