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‘I am a slave to a mortgage, but buying my own home has been my most liberating experience’

Owning your first home can give you a sense of freedom that you never expected. Photo: Kindel Media

Owning your first home can give you a sense of freedom that you never expected. Photo: Kindel Media

Published Apr 26, 2022


Durban – For most South Africans, property ownership is a life-long desire – a deep-seeded dream to realise; an ambitious goal to be achieved.

Even though it comes at a price, and involves decades of commitment to monthly bond repayments, being able to call oneself a property owner brings with it a unique sense of freedom.

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“I feel accomplished now that I have a property to call my own,” says 32-year-old Duncan Lottering of East London.

Read our latest Property360 digital magazine below

“It is strange in a way as, when I see that debit order for my bond repayment come off my account each month, my stomach sort of does a turn of anxiety as I know I have ‘lost’ a huge chunk of my salary. But I also get this little feeling of glee.

“It is weird. I feel proud. And I do feel a sense of liberation – actually my most liberating experience ever – even though I am actually now a slave to a mortgage. It is hard to explain.”

Lottering says owning his own property makes him feel secure because no-one can take it away from him – and with this security comes a sense of freedom.

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Jennifer Ellis was 49-years-old when she purchased her first property a couple of months ago, and although the buying experience – and renovations that had to be carried out before she could move in, caused her stress, she admits that there are moments where she feels at peace knowing she finally owns her own home.

“To be honest, I did find the buying process and renovations very stressful. There was no joy in it for me. But then one day, in the middle of all the upheaval that was my new home – as the renovations were still ongoing, I suddenly felt lucky. I felt fortunate that I finally owned property.

“After renting for my whole life, even the bond repayments feel like a method of saving money. As with renting, I still have to constantly make sure I have the finances to pay the bond and levies, and now also rates and taxes, but it feels different somehow.”

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For the first time in her life, Ellis feels like she is backing herself.

“I have my own back. I now feel like a grown up, like I am investing in myself.”

Admittedly, the Capetonian did not buy in the area of her choice, and could have rented for less in areas she liked more, but she felt reassured when an apartment in her block recently sold for a few hundred thousand rand more than what she has just paid for her property.

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“That gave me hope.

“I don’t think it has sunk it yet, that I actually own an asset. But it does feel pretty affirming. I am also very grateful that I now have the chance to make my house my home – that I can decorate it the way I love and, for the first time, have a place actually feel like home.”

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Ellis knows too that, if she wants to, she could rent her property out to travel or move overseas.

“I feel like I have some more financial choices. I feel like I have the freedom of having choices.”

In a previous interview with IOL Wealth, 29-year-old Nano Shadung explained how becoming the first person in her family to own a property was an achievement that filled her, and her mother, with “great pride and joy”.

Her mother and grandmother were domestic workers and the only decent homes they ever knew were the ones they cleaned and then left.

“They couldn’t afford a property to one day use as an investment or a head start for us, and the little salary they got went to taking care of their children.

“All my mother was ever concerned about was putting food on the table in our one-room house in Alexandra, Joburg, clothes on our backs, and providing a decent education for both myself and my sister.”'

For Shadung’s family, owning property was something for rich people – not something they could ever afford. But at the age of 25, she shattered that mind-set when she bought her own home, becoming the first home owner in her family.

It was an achievement filled with great pride and joy as the purchase of the three-bedroom, freestanding house in Cosmo City, Randburg, not only made good on a promise to her mother, but opened her eyes to the investment possibilities associated with property ownership.

“My motivation for buying a home was not about owning a bricks-and-mortar asset. It was about fulfilling a promise I made to my mother years ago that I would make her proud by buying her a home.”

However, the purchase has made Shadung realise that her property could help secure her financial freedom.

“I view this home as an investment and my family is well aware of how it could help me buy more houses and, as a result, lead to the start of generational wealth.”

To prepare to buy your first home, read this article for expert advice.

Once you are ready to begin the hunt for a home to buy, start here.