Check the ‘fit’ before you buy a home

Use your imagination to try a home on for size and shape before you buy it and you could save yourself a lot of agitation - and expense.
That’s the advice of new Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray, who says prospective buyers visiting a show house or looking at plans should try to envisage what it would actually be like to live in the home on a day-to-day basis.
“Even an attractive home is not necessarily practical. For example, you should think about where you would place your furniture and how easy it would be to get it in or out, and even what it would be like to bring a load of groceries home. Would you have to carry them up a flight of stairs? Could you park near the back door and bring them in that way or would you have to go through the living room? Is there enough storage space to accommodate bulk shopping?
“Similarly, you might want to consider where and how you would entertain. Is there a patio located so that it would be easy to serve a meal there? Could children who’ve been swimming get to the kitchen or the family room without trekking through the rest of the house with wet feet?
“And you definitely need to think about bathroom locations. Second bathrooms are often only accessible through the main bedroom, so you need to be sure that the first bathroom is convenient to the living and entertainment areas. And in a two-storey home with both bathrooms upstairs, would you really want to live without a guest loo downstairs?”         
Such considerations are the practical issues which, added up, tend to make the difference between a house and a happy home where you’ll be comfortable and want to stay for a long time, he says. Conversely, a home that is awkward for your family to fit into or to move around in will very likely prompt another round of househunting and another purchase – with all the attendant costs - within a relatively short time.
Homebuyers also need to consider their own lifestyles before choosing a home, because a floor plan that puts one buyer off might suit another family perfectly.
“For example, some people want a large, open plan living area that is the heart of their home where their family and friends can all share conversation, music, meals and other activities,” notes Gray. “Others prefer more traditional layouts with separate TV, sitting and dining rooms. Similarly, some people like large, eat-in kitchens while others want a compact, modern and highly-efficient ‘galley’ because they don’t have a lot of time to cook.”
Young families, he says, will often choose a home with a bedroom wing where all the sleeping accommodation is close together. Parents with teenagers, however, will quite often look for a home with a master suite separated from the rest of the bedrooms by a dressing room, study or private lounge.
“In short, buyers need to remember that every home has attractive features,” says Gray, “and try to stay focused on their own specific needs. They should not allow themselves to be pressurised. In fact a good estate agent will encourage them to pay more than one visit to a property that interests them, and give them the time they need to mentally ‘try it on’ before committing to a purchase.”
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