South Africa
Home buying tips for first-timers

Home buying tips for first-timers

Buying your first home is exciting, but it can also be a little scary. Make sure your joy is not overshadowed by concerns about debt with our home buying tips.

Buying a property is a big decision and a big investment. The entire process can seem overwhelming for a first-time buyer – but it doesn’t have to be if you stick to a few basic home buying tips.

1. Check what you can afford

Before you even start looking for that dream home, work out what you can afford.

2. Factor in the extra costs

Buying a home comes with some once-off additional costs: the deposit, transfer duties, conveyancing fees and deeds registration fees. There’s also the cost of running a household.

Apart from the levy or rates and taxes, you may need to maintain a pool, hire a garden service or pay for security. You’ll also need to consider Building Insurance.

If you are buying in a sectional title complex, you are within your rights to request the financial statements to ensure that the property is well managed by the body corporate or its agents, and is in good financial standing with its creditors.

It’s also a good idea to find out if there any special levies pending. A special levy is a tariff charged in addition to the regular levy over a fixed period. These funds are collected from owners to pay for big investments such as security upgrades, painting or significant maintenance. An impending special levy will impact your costs in the short-term.

3. Know what you’re buying

You may view a lot of homes in your search for the right one. Learn to see past the furnishings. Do the walls or plaster show any signs of damp, or are there any structural cracks? Is the roof sagging? How’s the neighbourhood in terms of location and security?

Consider hiring a home inspection services company to inspect the property before you submit your offer. Home inspectors check for dangers including:

  • Structural damage
  • Water seepage and damp
  • Faulty electrical, plumbing and gas installations
  • Rotten timber
  • Hazardous materials (such as asbestos, lead-based paint and toxic moulds)

4. Follow through on your offer

It’s important to make an informed decision on the property you’re interested in. Our free Home Services property guide allows you to view the estimated value of any property to ensure you’re not paying more than you should. You can also view area and sales trends, crime statistics and more.

Once you’ve found a property you’re ready to call home, it’s time to make an offer to purchase. This is not a decision to take lightly, as cancelling an offer to purchase can cost a small fortune in penalties – this amount depends on your signed contract.

5. Have your paperwork ready

If your offer to purchase is accepted, filling out your Home Loan application is the final step. Use a document checklist to see exactly what you’ll need to apply online or at your nearest branch, but make sure you apply as soon as possible.

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