Don't put home price before area

If you're househunting, you should carefully choose the areas you want to look in before you pick out any properties.

That's the advice of Harcourts Africa CEO Martin Schultheiss, who says: "In the heat of the moment, buyers often forget that location, location and location are still the most important aspects of a property purchase.

"These days, especially, price is top of mind. Buyers are concentrating so hard on finding a property they can afford - or for which they can get a home loan - that they often don't even think about scouting the neighbourhood before committing themselves.

"But if an area suffers from traffic congestion, a high crime rate or a lack of amenities such as schools and shops, for example, that fact cannot just be wished away.

"And nor should it be ignored because not only will it affect the buyer's lifestyle for as long as he or she owns the property, but also the prospects of ever reselling the property at a profit.

"Consequently, buyers need to deal with ethical agents who will remind them that it is far better to buy a smaller home or a fixer-upper in a good area than a palace in a bad area."

Schultheiss also says that while few locations are perfect in every way, one can limit the possibility of making an expensive mistake through the use of a basic "area checklist", including the following considerations:

* The distance from work, schools and shops as well as any other amenities you may use regularly;

* Traffic levels on various access routes at different times of the day and week;

* The level of services provided by the local authority and the rates and taxes;

* The local crime rate;

* The existence of restaurants, clubs or sports venues near the property that may cause noise or traffic problems;

* The number of homes for sale. If there are many, ask why. There may be something planned for the area that would drastically reduce property values.


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