Buying a new home can be a tricky business. Agents and agencies are there to help you and in many countries like South Africa tend go far beyond the call of duty. Even with their help there are still many points that you as a buyer should be aware of. We have compiled a list of 7 important sets of actions that you should adopt when buying a new happy space.

Know what you can afford

It is vitally important that you know what you can afford before you begin searching for your dream home. When applying for a bond, the bank will assess your ability to afford the property you’re applying for by asking you for a detailed breakdown of your net income and monthly expenses.

This is done for two specific reasons:

  • To gain insight into your view of your living expenses
  • And most importantly to determine that the total cost of the bond for property you are applying for does not exceed 30% or your net income.

It is highly recommended that you make use of an affordability calculator to first assess the maximum value of the property you are able to afford. Keep in mind that certain affordability calculators to not take into account the legal fees you would need to pay upon purchasing the property.

To help know you’re affordability, we highly recommend you use one of our calculators to help you determine what you can afford, or what an estimate of what your monthly repayments will be.

You can find our calculators by pressing/clicking here.

Know the property’s worth (do your research)

Before you make an offer, be sure to first know the relative worth of the property you’re interested. Don’t rely solely on the word of the agent you’re interacting with, or simply accept the asking price as is. Agents are of course there to help and will do everything they can to recommend the best price for you and the seller. But it is always best to perform your due diligence non the less.

Ask you agent for their value assessment they’ve put together to see how they’ve arrived at the value of the property. Namely request their sales report and/or review on comparable listings in the area.

If they’re unable to provide you with their value assessment, A Happy Space can help by providing you with a detailed valuation and market trend analysis report.

For more information, see our valuations page by pressing/clicking here.

Avoid properties with many agents

It is recommended to think twice before, or not even engage at all with a property listing that has more than 3 agents working to sell the property. This is not a sign that agents are swarming to sell the property, but a buyer who believes that more agents will increase the likelihood of a sale.

This is rarely the case, as a property sells at the speed of the market and location. Too many agents can cause conflicts and other administrative issues that can not only be a burden for you, but for the agents themselves. You will usually find that quality agents would not engage in a property that already has more than 3 agents assigned to it already. It is best that you do the same.

Don’t allow the sale to be rushed or make an emotional decision

Never allow yourself to feel pressured in making an offer on a property or make a purchase quicker than you are comfortable with. Be very sure to always take you time when making a decision of this magnitude, be calm and logical in your approach. If you’re told that no more submissions will be accepted two days after the viewing and you have not done your due diligence yet. Then walk away from the property and look elsewhere.

Always remember that there are many properties on the market. If this property does not fit in with the pace you’ve set, then let it pass.

This is especially important because you cannot cancel or legally pull out of an offer on a property once you’ve made and officially signed the offer to purchase. If you’re selected by the seller as the winning bid, then you are obligated to follow through with the purchase process. The seller is legally allowed to sue for as much as the full value of the property if you do no comply.

Take many pictures when viewing the property

Too many folks do not take any or enough pictures of the property when doing your viewing. It is highly recommended that you take as many pictures as the battery on your camera device will allow. These because vital after the viewing when you’re carrying out your planning and assessment.

It’s possible that you missed certain details when viewing in person, which can be picked up in the pictures. Additionally, your emotions can warp your perception in the moment when viewing.

Once you’re done with your viewings for the day. Take a moment to slowly go through all the pictures you’ve taken and look at them calmly and as objectively as possible. Use this time to assess how well the property really fits in with what you’re looking for and need.

Look closely at the details

When it comes to viewing properties, it is important to maintain an eye for detail. This could very well protect you from making an unexpected bad purchase. Be sure to always carry your camera (mentioned above), a notebook with the dimensions of the furniture and large appliances you’ll be moving into the property, a roll-up measuring tape, and a bubble level.

The camera and notebook speak for themselves. Use the tape measure to measure spaces like the windows for curtains, the size of the space for your washing appliance and refrigerator, the width of doorways as to make sure your large furniture can fit through, and so on. Note all of these down in your notebook.

Use the bubble level to check that the floors, bath, the floor of the shower, and so on are all level. It is possible that you can uncover inaccurate and possibly flawed workmanship by just looking at this detail.

For example, if there is a bath with a built in shower and the bath is not level and perfectly perpendicular to the wall it’s mounted against. The seal at the bottom of the shower door might not seal correctly and would leak onto the floor. This would only be discovered when you move in and start showering.

Does everything operate as expected

When you’ve arrived for a viewing, be sure to test the functionality of all operating devices on the lot. Every tap must be opened and closed, every toilet flushed, every light switch flipped, and every door and window operated.

Ask the agent to ensure that the water heater/geyser is turned on and fully functional before you arrive. As to test the water temperature and pressure upon arrival. Low hot water pressure and temperature are signs of a faulty geyser. Check that the water overflow for the geyser does not have water flowing out of it, especially when the hot water is running.

Yes, a sale cannot happen without the seller obtaining a plumbing certificate. But the certificate only covers pipes being connected and not leaking. It does not certify that the geyser produces hot water and high pressure.

Know thy neighbour

Are your neighbours people you can get along with, borrow sugar from, or even be friends with?

Don’t be shy to ask about or visit your potential neighbours. You likely won’t be living in complete isolation, and thus knowing your neighbours and the neighbourhood you’ll be purchasing in will bring a greater sense of comfort after you move in. It is important that all neighbours get along and bolster the community and sense of unity.

The last thing you’d want is to purchase A Happy Space and find that you’ve moved in next to a Norwegian death metal cover band. 😉

Property Administrators: Your trusted partners?

If you’re buying into a sectional title scheme – i.e. an apartment block – be very sure to know who the property administrators are in the block, know their reputation inside and out, and understand if there are special levies in place, about to be put in place, or if there are levies “on hold” that could come into effect at any time.

A property administrator is business the body corporate can hire to administer the complex/block on behalf of the body corporate, for a fee.

A property administrator can have a heavy impact on the future resale value and general feel of living in a complex. You can find that one has only recently taken control of the complex before you buy into the complex. A year later, the complex is no longer in the same state you bought into. This heavily effecting your resale value.

Far too often do property administrators mismanage a complex, allowing areas to fall into disrepair, mismanaging funds, implementing special levies without proper process and inclusion of all parties, and more. It is very much in your best interest to perform your own due diligence and research the agent before making an offer. Going as far as to not make an offer to purchase for the reason that you do not accept that the assigned managing agent runs the complex to your satisfaction. In such an scenario it is important to let the estate agent or owner know this.

It is up to the owners and even the buyers to dictate what is acceptable when it comes to the management of a complex. Much like all aspects of consumerism, the most powerful way to do so is with one’s wallet.

Always request and review the current accounts for the complex. Use these to get insight into how the complex is being run financially.

Ask the owner or estate agent if there are any special levies being charged, or if any will be charged. This is usually for the sellers pocket, but this can be pushed onto the buyer. Be aware that it’s possible that a special levy can be paused for an extended period of time and then continued. You can even find that, out of the blue, a property administrator can start charging you a large levy a year after you’ve purchased a unit without notice on top of your existing full levy charges! With the reason being that the levy was always in place but on hold. If you’ve not planned for such a possibility, it can very much catch you off guard and effect your affordability.

In South Africa, effective ways to find out a property administrators reputation are:

  • Using Google maps and searching for the business name. This will bring up their google rating and user reviews. Consider any users reviews you find.
  • Using a review platform like HelloPeter.com. It’s here where you can learn from other people experiences and know who you’re partnering with to manage your new home.
  • Ask the estate agent if they can find out if any of the owners actually live in the complex, and ask them to arrange a meeting to get more information on the way in which the complex is managed.

Conclusion

There you have it. These 7 tips are our recommendations for things you must keep in mind when buying a new home. We hope these help you greatly when purchasing your new dream space.