Be­ware the risks of web­site buys

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RE­MOTE buy­ing, ac­cord­ing to Mike Greeff, chief ex­ec­u­tive at Greeff Christie’s In­ter­na­tional Real Es­tate, poses “huge dan­gers” for buy­ers as prop­er­ties are sold “as is”, even with de­fects.

If buy­ers don’t see homes be­fore sign­ing pur­chase agree­ments, they can’t see de­fects which may be seen dur­ing a phys­i­cal view­ing.

“There might be is­sues with neigh­bours, or views im­peded by neigh­bours, not be vis­i­ble in pho­tos or a vir­tual tour. There might va­cant land nearby that could de­tract from your pur­chase.”

Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties’ Basil Mo­raitis agrees “buy­ing sight un­seen” poses risks as buy­ers are bound to the agree­ment, re­gard­less of the suit­abil­ity or ac­tual con­di­tion of a prop­erty. They will have no rem­edy should de­fects ex­ist.

“The agent has an obli­ga­tion in terms of our Code of Con­duct to alert the po­ten­tial sight un­seen buyer to the pos­si­ble risks of pro­ceed­ing in this man­ner.”

Adrian Goslett, re­gional di­rec­tor and chief ex­ec­u­tive of Re/max of South­ern Africa, says: “I think of the time my wife and I booked a ho­tel room on the Mi­ami beach­front. When we ar­rived, the ocean view de­scribed on the web­site was a glimpse of blue only seen if you stuck your head out of the win­dow and turned it to see through trees that blocked the view. The on­line de­scrip­tion also ne­glected to let us know our room was above a restau­rant open un­til mid­night.”

Goslett says he would not ad­vise pur­chas­ing a prop­erty without view­ing it in per­son. “Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing tends to high­light the good fea­tures of a home and ex­clude its bad points and pho­tos can be de­cep­tive in terms of di­men­sions.”

Greeff says there is “nearly al­ways a ne­go­ti­a­tion” in the sale of prop­er­ties, and it is eas­ier for buy­ers to do this face-to-face as op­posed to via email or over the phone.

Se­eff’s Charles Vin­ing warns in­ter­net scams and fraud are a ma­jor con­cern, so deal­ing with rep­utable agen­cies is essen­tial for re­mote buy­ers.

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