10 house hunting mistakes to avoid in the South African market



If you want to find the home of your dreams, you can’t be a passive bystander who simply hopes for the best.

This is a time for using every ounce of cunning and initiative needed to track down your perfect property – in other words, to be a regular Sherlock Holmes or Jessica Fletcher.

To help you crack your house-buying case, below are 10-point guide to avoiding common house hunting mistakes, purpose-designed to unleash the property sleuth within.

1. Disregarding the benefits of estate agents

Instead of treating estate agents as foes, make them your friends. Get them on your side. Estate agents are a valuable source of information on the housing market, and can be your guide to purchasing a house that meets your requirements. If you have your eye set on a home, estate agents can provide insight into the value of properties in that area.

2. Taking too long to view properties

Viewing properties in a piecemeal fashion just doesn’t work. If you take too long over your viewings, there’s a risk that when you decide you want the first house you saw, it’s already been sold. Instead, put aside a whole day, and do a number of viewings. Also, go on a weekday. Estate agents will give you more time than on the weekend, when most people want to view.

3. Relying on glossy agents’ photos of the home

Take your own pictures and film your visits on your phone, too. That way, you have something to refer to when the properties start to blur in your brain.

4. Failing to get pre-approved

Pre-approval provides you with your credit score, and an idea of what you can afford. This is invaluable information that you will need during your house hunt. Knowing what you can afford ensures you don’t make an offer outside of your price bracket. Knowing your credit score signals your chances of getting a home loan (a low score means you need to focus on improving your credit before applying for a home loan).

5. Only visiting the neighbourhood during the day

If you like a house, don’t just visit it during the day. Come back at night, when noisy neighbours might be around, or that quiet restaurant nearby gets rowdy.

6. Thinking short-term

Don’t focus solely on what your requirements are now. Take into account your plans for the future, such as whether you intend to have kids, or retire in your home. Those decisions might require you to buy a home with extra bedrooms and bathrooms, or a house without steps.

Does the home have security measures in place? Internet and other digital technologies? Take into account features you plan to install in the home and how much work that will require.

7. Disregarding location

You can make changes to the home, but you can’t make changes to the neighbourhood. So don’t just focus on the home itself, but on its location. How safe do you feel in this neighbourhood? How far is it from a hospital? If you plan to have kids in the future, take into account the best schools and how far away they are.

8. Overthinking

While you want to investigate the home and ensure everything is in order, you also need to move quickly, or the home may get snapped up by someone else. Ask the estate agent for advice on this; they will know how much demand there is for homes in this area.

9. Getting caught up in superficial elements

Furnishing, wallpaper etc, these things can all be changed, so don’t be put off if you don’t like the interior design. You also need to investigate the internal structure of the home, rather than just focus on surface elements. This means taking into account things like plumbing, electricity, potential leaks and so on.

10. Buying a home out of desperation

If your house hunt goes on for a while without finding anything, you may start to lose hope. Don’t fall into the trap of buying a home that doesn’t meet your requirements just because you’re worried you won’t find anything else.

Don’t settle for less than your requirements, you may have only one chance to do this, for a long time at least. And deciding to move out of the home soon after moving in is costly, and introduces a number of complications.

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