Six traps to avoid as a first-time buyer

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

Be­ing sorry that you bought the wrong shoes or the wrong smart­phone is one thing; be­ing sorry you bought the wrong prop­erty is quite an­other, be­cause of the po­ten­tial im­pact on your fi­nances and life­style for many years to come.

How­ever, says Ger­hard Kotzé, MD of the Real­net es­tate agency group, there is no need for first-time home­buy­ers to be over­whelmed or in­tim­i­dated by the home-buy­ing process. Deal­ing with a rep­utable agent work­ing in your cho­sen area will help you avoid the fol­low­ing novice mis­takes:

Re­ly­ing to­tally on the In­ter­net. "Brows­ing the In­ter­net is com­mon prac­tice when it comes to search­ing for homes and find­ing out about your de­sired lo­ca­tion, but it should not be your only source of in­for­ma­tion.

A good es­tate agent might be able to show

Eien­dom te koop

you prop­er­ties that haven't been ad­ver­tised yet, and should cer­tainly be able to help you find the listed home that most closely meets your re­quire­ments."

Get­ting too emo­tion­ally at­tached to one house. Set­ting your heart on a par­tic­u­lar prop­erty too early in your home search could blind you to other homes that would have been a bet­ter choice in the long run. "This is very likely the most ex­pen­sive pur­chase you'll ever make, so you need to stay calm and make sure you are get­ting the best value for money as well as a home with an am­bi­ence you like," says Kotzé.

Not be­ing pre­pared for own­er­ship. "First-time buy­ers are often at­tracted to the idea that home-own­er­ship brings free­dom, but be­ing an owner ac­tu­ally comes with many new re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, in­clud­ing all main­te­nance and re­pair work, the pro­vi­sion of se­cu­rity and the pay­ment of homeowners' in­sur­ance as well as mu­nic­i­pal rates and taxes.

You need to be men­tally and fi­nan­cially ready for th­ese."

Not sav­ing enough. Kotzé says many prospec­tive buy­ers will save just enough for a de­cent de­posit, not re­al­is­ing that they will also need cash to cover the "hid­den" costs of buy­ing a home, in­clud­ing the bond registration fee, le­gal fees, and trans­fer costs.

"And on top of that, we usu­ally sug­gest that you should save your mov­ing costs and an amount equiv­a­lent to two to three months' home loan re­pay­ments as an emer­gency fund."

Not check­ing your credit score. You should al­ways do this at least three months be­fore you start house-hunt­ing so that if there are any black marks or er­rors on your credit record you can ad­dress them or get them fixed.

If you are seen by the banks as a bad credit risk, your ap­pli­ca­tion for a home loan may be turned down - and at the very least you are likely to be charged a higher rate of in­ter­est. (Go to for a free credit re­port and score.)

Not get­ting pre-qual­i­fied for a home loan. This is easy to do through a rep­utable bond orig­i­na­tor like Bet­ter­bond and es­tab­lishes how much you can af­ford to spend on your home.

The dou­ble ben­e­fit of that, says Kotzé, is that you won't waste time look­ing at prop­er­ties you can't af­ford, and that sellers will be more will­ing to ne­go­ti­ate when you do make an of­fer to pur­chase be­cause they can see that you're a se­ri­ous buyer.

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