Are you a new homeowner? Here is a guide to home insurance
As a first-time homeowner, the process of obtaining your very first home can be overwhelming with all the information and processes you need to familiarise yourself with. The recent repo rate announcement kept interest rates unchanged, keeping the property market accessible to first-time home buyers. If you’ve found your dream home, then there are some strongly advisable checks you should consider conducting, prior to putting in an offer to purchase.
Marius Steyn, Personal Lines Underwriting Manager at Santam – SA’s leading short-term insurer – suggest conducting a home inspection prior to purchase, then putting in a clause that an offer to purchase is subject to stipulated repairs. “Remember, your insurer is only responsible for damages occurring from the date of registration of your new home at the deeds office, onwards – not for any prior problems. This means you need to have any damages fixed by the seller, as a condition of your offer. Otherwise, these could become big issues down-the-line.”
So, what essential checks should a first-time buyer conduct? You need to know your property is structurally sound, safe, damage-free and up-to-code. Remember, you are fully entitled to include a home inspection clause in your contract, which makes your offer conditional on a home inspection being conducted and the property being found to be in a satisfactory state. However, it’s worth noting that including this clause can sometimes make an offer less desirable for a seller – especially one who knows there are things that need fixing! Here are five areas of the home to potentially focus on:
- Check the geyser:
- Check the roof:
- Check the ceiling:
- Check the garden:
- Check for electrical faults:
Steyn advises having a professional inspection and taking a family member or friend along, who has experience and knowledge in spotting potential structural problems.
A few insurance considerations from Steyn for first-time buyers:
- Make sure you get homeowners insurance (this covers the building) and house contents insurance (this cover the contents within your home) a few days PRIOR to moving in. Your first seven days in a new house are when you’re most vulnerable, because you’re usually still figuring out security and all your things are in boxes. So, make sure your insurance is already in place. You can also request to have certain security features installed before moving in – especially those that are essential to meet your insurer’s stipulated conditions – like burglar bars, an alarm, etc.
- Make sure your home contents insurance is adequate and the equivalent to the current replacement value of all your items.
- Remember you have a duty of care as the policyholder. Should a theft occur, you need to do everything you can to limit the damage – so ensure your front door is fixed and secure if it was damaged through forced entry, for example. Additionally, report any items stolen to the police and your insurer. With the approval of your insurer you do have a prescribed time to do a proper inventory of everything taken.
Steyn stresses the importance of making sure that all damage is fixed up before you move in, as a condition of your offer. “Do not purchase a property (home) with damage. Rather include a clause in the purchase contract that seller must repair the specified damage before registration can take place.”