Check the floorplan before you buy

The kids have moved out, you've retired and now you can finally buy the property you've always wanted. Large airy rooms, a chef's kitchen, and dramatic views from an exclusive vantage point on the cliffs have you signing on the dotted line within hours.

Unfortunately, though, you overlooked all the steps leading up to your lofty perch, and just weeks after moving into your eyrie you're beginning to have second thoughts. You're not as young as you used to be and a simple task such as bringing home groceries is now tantamount to climbing Everest. Perhaps that ground floor apartment wasn't such as bad idea after all.

Buyers often realise too late that a particular home - wonderful and well-priced as it may be - just doesn't suit them or their lifestyle, says Harcourts Africa CEO Martin Schultheiss, who suggests that those who are viewing properties take all the time they need to "daydream" about living in a home before making any purchase decision.

"It is important to remember that different layouts suit different buyers. For example, parents with older children might prefer homes with some sort of 'buffer zone' between the master bedroom and their teenagers' loud sound systems, but parents with toddlers will usually prefer homes where the bedrooms are all clustered together.

"Simply put, the floor plan of the home must match your circumstances and lifestyle, and visualising where you will put your furniture and how you will use various parts of the home is the key to making a smart decision."

Schultheiss says buyers should also try to anticipate the effects of various layouts. "Think what it would mean, for instance, to have the entertainment area leading directly off the TV-room. "You'd have a hard time watching a quiet movie if your youngsters had their friends over for a braai.

"Similarly, a young professional who travels a lot may love the simplicity and security of a townhouse with a tiny patio garden, but such a property might well prove claustrophobic for a young family."

Above all, says Schultheiss, buyers should not feel pressured to buy a particular property. "Rather don't try to force a round peg into a square hole. Take the time to find the home which fits in all the right ways - or you'll just end up house-hunting again in the near future."


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