Make moving easier – with help from the previous owner

It may sound strange but the best way to get to know your new home is often to ask the previous owner – after you have signed a sale agreement and set the transfer in motion.

“Buying a pre-owned home is very different from buying a newly-built one which comes with all sorts of guarantees,” says Braam de Jager, national operations manager of Aida, SA’s best-known estate agency group.

“With a newly-built home, whether you have commissioned it yourself or bought it ‘ready-made’ from a developer, it is relatively easy to check that all the fittings and finishes are in line with the original specifications, and that any building defects have been attended to.

“Generally, you will also have plenty of opportunities to get to know the workings of your new home and any new appliances or equipment before you move in.”

But if you buy a pre-owned home, he says, you will usually get it “as is” and, even if it has passed a rigorous inspection and been declared safe and sound, you will usually have to go through several weeks of trial and error before you are really familiar with where everything is and how it works.

“You can avoid this, however, simply by asking the agent who sold you the home to arrange a hand-over meeting with the previous owner when you move in.

“Every home is different and such a meeting will give you the opportunity to find out how to operate the alarm system, for example, or the pool and borehole pumps and the timer for an irrigation system. You’ll be able to ask where the water meter is, or perhaps just which keys are for which doors and where to switch on the outside lights.”

And most sellers, De Jager says, will be happy to give you “the tour” – especially if you make it clear that you do not intend using the meeting as an opportunity to find fault or try to re-open price negotiations. “This is why it should only be arranged once the transfer is in progress – or even after it has been registered.”

However, if they can’t or won’t attend a hand-over meeting, you should request, he says, that they at least leave behind any system operating manuals and warranties, as well as the names and telephone numbers of the plumbers, electricians and other service companies they have found reliable.

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