Buying a house in SA – what to watch out for…

house, home ownership, domestic

Buying a house is an emotional decision –

because this is the place where you will live with your family; this is the place where you will relax with your friends.  

As a home buyer, you need to make a conscious effort to turn away from the heart and to think with your head.  You need hard factual information on which to base your buying decision:  

Don’t believe everything you are told – get accurate and reliable information before you commit yourself:

Here are five things to watch out for when you embark on your home buying journey.

  1. Be sure to get realistic information regarding the seller’s asking price.   How fair is this price.  Is the seller just being plain greedy and hoping to take you for a ride?  
    1. Double check what the estate agent tells you about market value.  At an early stage You should consult an online property market price service such as Lightstone, Windeed or Property24 in order to get an immediate and low-fee independent view on the market price of the property you are interested in.
  2. Get an independent home inspection report which will provide you with reliable and factual information regarding the true physical condition of the house.  
    1. You need to know as much as possible about all of the physical defects in the house and how much it will cost to fix these problems.   Without this information you cannot negotiate a fair price with the Seller.  
    2. Never sign an offer to purchase (OTP) which includes a voetstoots clause without first protecting your rights by insisting on making your written OTP subject to a satisfactory home inspection report.  A voetstoots clause means that you will be buying the property “as is”.  Voetstoots makes it difficult or impossible to get justice from the seller if you later discover serious issues with the property. You can get a free home inspection quote from www.housecheck.co.za.
    3. Also, never accept, at face value, the seller’s mandatory condition disclosure (required by the Property Practitioners Act 2019). The seller may not be aware of potential defects in the roof, roof cavity, or as regards the hot water geyser installation.  Most sellers are also not qualified to diagnose how serious any cracks or damp really are.  An independent home inspection is your only realistic option to protect yourself as a potential home buyer.
  3. Get factual information regarding the legality of the house.   Are all the structures (buildings) on the property shown on the approved municipal building plans? 
    1. Require, as a condition of purchase, that the seller provides you and your home inspector with a copy of the approved municipal plans.  Ask your home inspector to do a visual comparison between the “as-built” structures and the approved plans.
  4. It is important for you to understand at the start of your home-buying journey the maximum that you can afford to pay for your dream house. Establish from your bank the maximum size of the mortgage loan that you qualify for: In the light of both your income and your credit record.
  5. You also need to know whether the cash you have already saved  is enough to cover your deposit and also transfer taxes and attorney’s fees.  Transfer and bond registration costs are often not taken into account by home buyers. 

If your home inspection report reveals high repair and maintenance costs which you have not been able to negotiate with the seller, then these costs should also be factored into your financial calculations.

 

Download the SA Home Buyers and Sellers Guide

This eBook is filled with practical information to assist you when buying or selling a property. Know your rights. What does the law say? Am I getting the best advice? Make wise decisions. Knowledge is power.

Home Buyers Guide
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