Questions to ask estate agents and sellers when buying a house
We started off thinking we needed more bedrooms, would go double storey and add outside offices, the whole nine yards. Then we began to think sensibly. The children have their own lives, with visits to mom and dad dropping on their agenda. At the end of the day, what is really more important – enjoying yourselves or presenting a face to the world that you can’t really afford?
I know there are many who need to expand their homes to cater for growing families, but my appeal to you is to know when to stop.
We have decided to do the alterations that are going to bring meaning and fun to our lives.
The builders arrived this morning – just as in Cape Town, much later than promised. The first question was “Sorry, we forgot our hose pipe, can we borrow yours?” But it didn’t really matter because we are building garden walls, one to form a laundry hanging area to stop our darling puppy from eating the washing, another to form a vegetable garden, safe from selfsame puppy.
If you are thinking of moving, here are a few tips from my regular correspondent, John of House Check, to help you with your purchase.
Questions for buyers to ask estate agents
South Africans spend somewhere north of R500 million a month on estate agents’ commissions. If you are a home buyer then follow these tips to make sure you ask the right questions and get your money’s worth:
Ask how long the house has been on the market. If it’s more than six months, you need to find out why it isn’t selling.
Ask whether the price is negotiable. This helps if you are on a tight budget, but it is also a question which could highlight potential problems. If the seller is quick to meet your demands and accept a lower price, can you hear alarm bells?
Ask how long the previous owners have lived there. If they’ve been there for several years, chances are they have been relatively happy, which is always a good sign.
Ask if they know of any damage to the property. They must give you a straight answer. Be bold.
Ask if they recommend a home inspection. If the agent hesitates then you should wonder whether the seller has something to hide. Always insist on a home inspection (usually paid for by the buyer) as a condition of sale.
Ask them to explain the voetstoots clause and how you can protect yourself if problems surface later. If the agent has asked you to sign an offer document with a voetstoots clause without counselling you on the implications for you as the buyer, then you should suspect that the agent is not acting in your best interests. Insist on using a home inspection clause (which protects the buyer) to balance the protection which a voetstoots clause affords the seller.
Ask if any major additions or alterations been conducted and if there are approved plans available. Make sure you know of any work that has recently been undertaken. Also ensure that the local municipality has approved plans for all alterations and additions.
Ask how much the municipal rates, and utility bills in the area, are. If you can, try to get an exact figure. As an expense, rates and utilities bills may seem small at first in comparison to the property, but they are recurring and you have to make sure you can afford them.
Ask if you can talk to the seller. If the seller refuses to talk to you before the transaction, then maybe
they've got something to hide. Questions and answers I have run out of space and I have so many interesting and relevant questions pending. I have attempted to reply to many of you directly, but until I am finally settled, time does not allow for this.
In the months ahead my plan is to set a day aside to try and respond to you all individually on a voluntary basis as I really believe in the value of sorting out the pitfalls in building, hidden around the next corner.
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