Planning ahead and asking the right questions is one way to avoid serious issues when it comes to buying a home. We’ve been discussing the top tips any first time home buyer should know before taking the plunge with property expert and conveyancing property lawyer Meyer de Waal. While the first five tips were centred on finances, we wanted to get into the sort of things you might want to know once you’ve started the viewing process.
Shop ‘Till You Drop
- Once you know where you stand financially, the fun part begins. Use absolutely every means at your disposal to find the right property for you – and don’t be afraid to keep asking for more viewings. Get online with Property24, Private Property and even Gumtree to supplement any properties your estate agent might be showing you.
This isn’t an exclusive relationship! If you can find a private sale you could save yourself thousands of Rands in commission costs. Then ask your attorney to prepare an offer to purchase to present for the seller. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best bond amount and interest rate. Your bank might not offer you the best deal, and there’s no harm in asking around.
Get Your Grant
Not many of us know this but there is in fact a government grant for first time home buyers. If you earn a collective household salary of between R3501 and R15000 a month you could qualify for the FLISP grant. This grant was put in place to help bridge the gap between free housing and those who need just a little help in owning their own property.
“The problem with the FLISP subsidy is so few people know about it,” Meyer explained. “We quickly realised this and wanted to help people understand what it is and how to get it. In the past few months we have managed to get our clients hundreds of thousands of Rands in payouts, including retroactive applications. If anyone is interested in the FLISP subsidy, please contact us on our website www.flisp.co.za.”
Like the FLISP grant, there are many other property related things very few of us actually know about. This is where getting yourself a property attorney or conveyancer to scrutinize every part of the purchase process could become invaluable. The “Offer to Purchase” you sign is a legally binding document, usually with penalties that you need to understand fully.
By having your own representation on your side could really save you from some nasty surprises. Do not rely on the estate agent to guide you alone – he or she may be acting only in the interest of the seller, or their own commission.
One of the most important parts of buying a home is having it inspected. Buying something “voetstoets”, or “as it stands”, is not only dangerous but could end up costing you in the long run. Don’t be afraid to insist on a full home inspection to go along with the mandatory checks. Spotting something like a structural problem, dry rot or a pest infestation before you purchase means you have the chance to request the owner takes care of any issues before the sale goes through.
There are times when getting a home loan just isn’t possible right now. Luckily there are alternatives to getting a loan through the bank. Be creative and consider options like a “Rent to Buy” or Installment sale. “We realised after the economic downturn in 2007/2008 that banks weren’t willing to lend money as freely as before,” Meyer said. “Rent2Buy is seen as “plan B”, when you cannot immediately convince a bank to approve your home loan. You can show that you are financially ready to own the property but to convince a bank you just need that extra bit of time. By entering into a Rent2Buy deal with the owner the buyer doesn’t lose out on the property,the owner earns decent interest on his investment and the estate agent still retains his commission – a win for all involved.”