A whole new meaning to ‘home page’ – Can you really buy a property online?
IT’S UNLIKELY that anyone would part with so much money without first seeing a property, but thanks to the wonders of the digital world, there is plenty you can do online to make house-hunting and the buying process easier.
According to research done in May by bond originator ooba, the average age of first-time buyers is 34, and the average age of home buyers overall is 38.
“From this data, it’s clear that the property market needs to keep pace with the demands of younger, technologicallysavvy consumers,” says Bronwyn Philip, an oobaelite consultant.
“The advantage of buying property in a digital world is that everything you need is at your fingertips,” says Philip.
She recommends starting your journey with a bond originator to find out what price range you can afford to buy in. Ooba’s website includes many tools, such as an affordability calculator which helps you work out monthly mortgage repayments and a home loan deposit saving calculator. All these tools are compatible with mobile phones, which means you can access them at any time, even when you’re not in front of your computer.
Now that you’ve established your price range, your househunting can begin in earnest.
“There are many property portals and real-estate websites which allow you to search in specific price ranges,” says Philip.
Some of these sites will include the floor plan of the house, which will enable you to see whether it’s north-facing and give you an idea of the overall flow.
“You’ll be able to find useful information regarding property growth in the area, which should give you peace of mind that you would be making a sound investment,” she says.
Many property websites also have links to Google Maps, showing you where the house is in the neighbourhood, and proximity to schools, parks, shops and other amenities.
Philip believes that SA property websites could improve their offering by giving virtual tours of the properties they’re advertising, in line with international trends.
“Many people don’t have time to look at every property on the market in their desired neighbourhood or they may live in another city,” she says, “so how property portals present homes online can be of huge value.”
There are also some disadvantages to searching for properties online.
“Perhaps the biggest disad- vantage is that the property may appear far better online than it actually is, resulting in a feeling of disappointment when you actually do see it,” Philip says.
Another valid concern is security, she says. There is always a risk in supplying your personal information online and the various portals this information may be leaked to.