Private Property has rounded up its list of the top 10 places where people can rent in Johannesburg. Photo: James White
JOHANNESBURG -  There is no doubt that purchasing a home is one of the largest financial investments you are likely to make and can be a very exciting process. 

For first-time homebuyers however, this excitement can often be tempered by a certain degree of uncertainty and anxiety. To ensure as smooth a process as possible, here are 4 tips to consider when buying your first-home.

1. Get Pre-Approved for Finance

This is important for two major reasons. Firstly, Sellers are more likely to accept or consider your offer if you have proof that you can afford to buy. Secondly, getting a pre-approval from the Bank protects you from putting in an offer on a property that you can’t afford.

2. Factor in all Additional Costs

The purchase price is not the only thing that you have to budget for. Bond registration fees, transfer duties, conveyancing/legal and deeds registration fees, rates and taxes and levies are just some of the other costs associated with purchasing a property. Be sure to ask your agent for a breakdown of all these costs whilst budgeting for your upfront and ongoing costs. If you’re buying in a Sectional Title complex, perhaps request the financial statements and last AGM Minutes to ensure that everything is well managed by the body corporate or property management company.

3. Know your Market

Often first-time buyers want to ensure they are not over capitalising and are making a sound investment. Fortunately, all this information is readily available and should give you peace of mind. Your agent has access to all kinds of accurate Deeds Office and Market Trends information that will give you historical data about the house, street, complex, or suburb you may be looking in. Don’t be afraid to ask for this, it is public information and should give you some great insight into market values and recent sales activity.  

4. Inspect the Property Thoroughly

In your excitement to make an offer and buy your first home, don’t forget to look carefully at the property condition. Whilst a seller is obliged to advise you of any patent defects on the property which are visible things that they are reasonably expected to know about, Latent defects such as damage to plumbing, rising damp or structural weaknesses may not be immediately visible by the average person and therefore not disclosed. For this reason, the “voetstoots” clause in most deed of sale contracts means that you buy the property as it currently stands, and that the seller won’t be liable for any defects once the sale has gone through. The onus therefore ultimately sits with a purchaser, so it’s important to know about any potential issues beforehand as this may affect the selling price or other conditions of sale. If you love a property but have one or two concerns about its condition, a good option is to hire a home inspection company to inspect the property before you submit your offer. Home inspectors check for dangers including structural damage, damp, faulty electrical, plumbing and gas installations, rotten timber amongst a few other items.

Information is power, so equip yourself, don’t be afraid to ask loads of questions, and find yourselves a trustworthy and professional Estate Agent. If this is how you go about things, you’ll be sure to enjoy the process and make the right decision.

 
Tim Johnson of Seeff North Coast. 

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