Despite slightly higher interest rates and consumer price hikes, the outlook for South Africa’s housing market in 2022 remains healthy with a good number of new buyers expected to become homeowners for the first time.
Andrea Tucker, Director of MortgageMe says the demand for property, particularly in the more affordable market segments, presents some attractive options for first-time buyers looking to realise their dream of becoming homeowners. “Starting the house hunting process is of course incredibly exciting, leaving the most level-headed among us prone to a misstep or two. The trouble is even the smallest errors can be costly for novice buyers which is why is pays to know how to steer clear of them from the get-go.”
Avoid these big (and potentially costly) blunders:
- Not finding the right estate agent for you
Chat to a few estate agents in your neighbourhood/s of choice to get an expert view of the area. Get a good idea of a suburb’s potential, the pros and cons before you start house hunting. You don’t want to move into your dream part of town only to discover persistent water issues. Partner with a reputable estate agent (or two) who understands your needs as a prospective buyer. A knowledgeable agent with a good track record can make all the difference to your homebuying experience.
Ignoring those Ts and Cs
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions you’re likely to make so it’s the one time you want to get familiar with all those terms and conditions. What are your rights and responsibilities as a buyer? What happens if the seller reneges on a clause in your initial offer to purchase? Does the home you intend to buy come with a valid set of building plans? What are the conditions of your offer to purchase?
- Not understanding the real costs of being a homeowner
It’s not just your monthly bond repayments you have to budget for. It’s important to get an exact handle on what you can expect to pay in rates, taxes, and municipal services, as well as any special levies in the case of sectional title properties. You also need to budget for insurance (household contents, structural, life) as well as the potentially numerous costs of maintaining your property. A large garden and a pool come with extra expenses.
- Not being prepared
Doing research on home loans, bond originators, conveyancers and the role, costs, and requirements of each will only stand you in good stead when you’re finally ready to take those first steps on the property ladder. It’s never too early to start making sure that you’re ready for home ownership by knowing your credit score and type of property you’d like to purchase in your price range.
- Not getting a bond certificate
Getting pre-approval for a home loan not only makes you a more competitive buyer, but it also helps you stick to viewing properties within your means. The Bond Certificate from MortgageMe is an indicative measure of how much additional debt you can afford to take on based on an assessment of your income and current expenses. Taking a realistic and honest view of your current financial situation is an important exercise to do early on in your house hunting journey.
- Forgetting to do a close inspection
Take a closer look at your dream home before signing on the dotted line. Look for signs of rising damp, test light switches, taps and shower heads, open cupboards, get a roof inspector and ask the seller as many questions as you can think of. You can’t do too many of these checks, and don’t feel afraid to call in a second or third opinion if necessary.
- Not having emergency savings
Unexpected costs and minor emergencies are inevitable as they are annoying. It’s tempting to direct every bit of spare cash towards a huge deposit, but this just makes having to pay for a brand-new geyser on top of the electrician’s call out fee more painful than it needs to be.