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7 things first-time home buyers need to know

Buying your first property comes with nerves. Experts say education is power when making this big decision. So, here are seven key things to remember when buying your first home.

Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN – Congratulations, you’re ready to buy your first home.

While you might be very excited about being able to afford a property, doing your homework will save you time and money, according to experts.

Eyewitness News spoke to property conveyancers from Mukuddem Ahmed-Kagee Attorneys and MAK Realty.

Here are seven things you need to know before buying your first home.

Don’t make an emotional decision

All that glitters is not gold when buying your first home.

Experts say some people often buy houses based on how they look, which might lead to problems later. Buyers are advised to not go “too big” and to choose a comfortable house instead.

Fayruz Willoughby, from MAK Attorneys, explains: “Don’t make an emotional decision. Make sure that what you’re buying is what you need and require. In many cases, people present homes to be perfect, but when you get there it’s not what you wanted because a tap is broken, or a door doesn’t close properly.”

Inspect the house more than once

Your house will be a space you might wish to own or live in for many years. So, doing a thorough inspection can help you decide whether you want to buy a property or not.

“Check the state of the property. See whether there’s anything that needs to be fixed. Many people come to me and say, ‘I didn’t know I could ask for the door to be fixed.’ If you notice a cracked window, you can ask whether it will be fixed before you move in,” Willoughby explains.

Willoughby says unless the purchasers move in before the home is transferred to their names, the seller will be liable to fix it.

“Bear in mind the seller will need to obtain certificates, like the plumbing certificate and electrical certificate, which helps to ensure that everything is in order before the buyer moves in.”

With houses that are 20 years old or older, buyers are advised to do a beetle inspection.

Understanding the state of the house will also tell a potential buyer what they might need to spend on repairs.

Do research on your location

Knowing where your home is based and what you’ll have access to is really a good idea.

Sharron Roberts, from MAK, presents classes to homebuyers at RLabs in Athlone. Roberts explains why knowledge of your location is important.

“The first thing when looking for a property is understanding your location. If you have children, think about the location of the school and transport. These things are very expensive. It can become very costly after your purchase if you don’t take these things into account.”

Roberts says buyers should also consider the distance from their home to nearby facilities, like clinics and hospitals.

An online search can assist with getting to know an area.

Willoughby adds that buyers should ensure that the homes they buy are located in the area advertised.

“Someone might advertise and say the property is based in Grassy Park, but when they view it, they’ll find it’s in Eagle Park or Pelican Park.”

Know your money matters

Before deciding on your home, you need to understand how much you can afford to spend and what exactly you’ll be paying for.

Roberts advises saving up for a deposit and using online tools to help you estimate costs, including transfer costs and monthly repayments.

Picture: Pixabay.com.

“You have to educate yourself and find out what you qualify for and how you go about qualifying. There are online sites to check or you could walk into a bank. An online calculator can be very helpful.”

Roberts says that your income, or joint income when buying a come together, also impacts the type of home you can afford.

Willoughby adds: “It’s always better to have a deposit. Many people don’t. Many people don’t know about the FLISP subsidies or qualifying for a housing subsidy. A first-time homeowner can apply for a subsidy. Many people also tell me they didn’t know they’d have to pay a bond and transfer costs, so you’ll need to pay for having the home transferred to your name and for registering the bond.”

Willoughby says many people are not aware that they will also need to pay a “transfer duty” which is tax due to the South African Revenue Service. This is separate from transfer costs.

“Every property above R900,000 is liable for transfer duty.”

So, education is key.

Get help

Understanding the nitty-gritty of home buying can be overwhelming.

Buying your home will start with your agent, move to a bank and then attorneys who will assist with finalising the purchase, says Willoughby. You can search for agents using a local directory, or ask for help from someone you trust.

These steps might come with costs too.

“The bank will appoint a bond attorney but you can request the bank to instruct a personal attorney. However, the bank can say no. The seller can usually appoint a transferring attorney.”

Buyers are advised to work with agents and attorneys who are reliable to ensure that they find the best house at the best price. But saving and research is key.

Maintain a good credit record

Roberts and Willoughby have advised buyers to maintain a healthy credit record.

“In order to buy a property, you need to maintain a good credit record. You need to be creditworthy. You need to consider this when you're looking to buy,” Roberts explains.

You can access free copies of your credit record once a year. Banks will have access to your credit profile and may reject your application if you have a low credit score. Sellers are also more likely to choose buyers who they know can afford their house. You can access your credit record using an online credit server or your local bank.

Don’t rush the process

Understanding what you need to buy a home and the process of purchasing will take time.

Aspirant home purchasers often want to know when they’ll get their house, says Willoughby.

“There are many documents you need to sign. People don’t know that there’s three months’ notice when they want to cancel.”

She adds the process from being approved for a home loan to owning the house differs from case to case, but it can last up to eight weeks.

Do you have tips to share with first-time home buyers? Feel free to leave your experience in the comments section below.

Pictures from Pixabay.

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