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10 Questions Every Property Owner Should Ask

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”, and while the late American probably didn’t intend to be describing the mistakes of homeowners in South Africa, his famous quote remains relevant to the real estate sector.

Failing to prepare adequately in the property market can have significant financial and social repercussions, including bankruptcy, or the fear for your personal safety. So when considering to buy a property, it can’t be overstated just how important it is to conduct research, prior to making a purchasing decision.

Johan van Schalkwyk, Principal at Leapfrog Roodepoort, warns that: “If you’re thinking of buying a property you’re likely to have a far better experience if you take the time to think through what you want and need, and plan for the best possible outcomes with the help of a trusted property advisor.”

Too often, prospective owners are blinded by an attractive price or the high-end finishing of a home, without thoroughly analysing the property and thinking about their decisions; instead preferring to rush into a potentially life-changing situation headfirst.

To prevent horror stories such as crime-ridden neighbourhoods and burglaries from occurring, Leapfrog Property Group have reached out to Residential People to provide us with a 10-point ‘guideline’ of questions you should ask of yourself, and take into consideration when buying a property in South Africa or elsewhere.

1. Can I comfortably afford this property?

Number crunching is essential, and something you want to do very thoroughly. In order to ensure you can comfortably afford the property, you should build a plan ahead that covers the next 12 months at least.

When considering the price of a property, be sure to factor in agent fees, legal fees, transfer fees, monthly rates and taxes, and the general upkeep and maintenance of the property.

2. What sort of property am I looking for?

Searching for the right property can be quite overwhelming, which is why it helps to have a keen sense of what you’d like in a property. Some homeowners would like to have large bedrooms that match the size of the living spaces, while others might consider a garden a necessity.

Being clear about your expectations and requirements can help make your property search more efficient.

3. What’s so special about the location?

Location is a very important aspect and something you should consider carefully. Identifying your desired location not only helps to narrow your search but could have a profound effect on your lifestyle.

4. Why is the property on the market?

Whenever an owner is selling a property, you should always ask why they are selling, and how long has the property been on the market.

Asking this question is a precautionary measure to ensure you’re aware of any potential hassles with the property and/or the neighbourhood.

5. How was the asking price determined?

Buying a home is a big investment, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for money. By understanding how the asking price was determined, you’ll be in a better position to assess whether you’re getting the relevant value, or if you should consider going in with a lower offer.

6. Are there other offers on the property?

If there are other offers on the property, you may have to move more swiftly if you’re interested in putting in an offer.

However, if there are no others on the property – and
particularly if the property has been on the market for a while, there is likely to be some room for negotiation around the price or the terms of the sale.

7. What renovations have been made to the property?

It’s always useful to see the property plans and understand what improvements have been made to the property as this is an indication fo what else might need to be done.

Having the property plans makes things much easier should you want to do alterations at some point.

8. What are the neighbours and the neighbourhood in general like?

Ultimately, we all want good neighbours and to be part of a community of likeminded people. When buying a home, you should make sure to find out more about the neighbours and the neighbourhood, as this could also sway your decision about the suitability of the property.

9. What exactly is included in the home offer?

So whether it was the chandelier in the living room that really made you swoon or the gorgeous free-standing garden pots that made you want this property, you should always ask what is included in the home offer and what is not.

10. Should I have another viewing of the property?

It is absolutely essential to view the property more than a couple of times before submitting the offer to purchase.

Most prospective home buyers are often overwhelmed by first impressions and only spot problems on the second or third viewing. Similarly, a property that might not
bowl you over at first glance may well look and feel different the second time around.

Leapfrog’s Van Schalkwyk concludes: “Using these pointers as a guideline should help make the property buying process smoother, easier and even enjoyable. Also, feel free to reach out to one of our trusted property advisors around the country to assist in the process.”

The basis of this article was provided by LeapFrog with additional editing from Residential People

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