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Seven mistakes first-time home buyers make – expert advice

"There's always an extra/added expense on top of the actual purchase price"

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Buying your first home can be exciting. However, as exciting as it might be, it is a decision that should not be taken lightly.


Many first-time home buyers don't take the time to do thorough research to avoid making bad decisions that could leave them regretting purchasing the house.


The first question a home buyer should ask is, 'can I really afford it?'


One of the biggest mistakes is buying a house that the bank says you qualify for without considering how much you really can afford. You should make sure that even after paying your mortgage and your other expenses, you still have enough money left for other unexpected expenditures that may arise. You don't want to find yourself struggling financially just because you bought a house that was out of your league.


Not enquiring about all the fees that you may need to pay


Apart from having to pay a deposit for your house, there might be other fees that you may need to pay such as lawyers’ fees, agent fees, and the registration cost. These might be costly.


Look for ways in which you can negotiate the price with the agent, but make sure you have enough saved up.


When it comes to lawyers, it might also be cheaper to use your own lawyer rather than the agent’s lawyer.


Not knowing the additional monthly costs


Depending on where you are buying your house, some areas require that you pay rates, taxes, municipal bills, refuse, and levies.


These might cost you a couple of thousand Rand every month, so it is better to know just how much they will cost before committing yourself to buying the house.


Find out if these costs will remain the same or increase yearly. Also make sure that you find out about the rules of the area you are planning to buy a property in. You don’t want to find yourself paying fines that you could’ve avoided.


Not doing a thorough inspection of the property


Many buyers make the mistake of buying a house at face-value without considering the unseen defects.


Estate Agent Masechaba Skeleme says “many clients usually only ask about how big the house is, how much rates and taxes will cost and if there is prepaid water and electricity. It is very rare to get clients ask about whether the house is environmentally good or not, and this is the most important question.”


Masechaba adds that some houses are built on clay, resulting in them cracking a few years after being built, while some houses have leaking pipes or old geysers.


“The sad thing is as soon as the house is registered in your name, you are liable to pay for any damages that may arise.”


So it is important to have an inspection report done to avoid having to do many fixes later, which can cost you a fortune. Get someone qualified to do an inspection report for you. Make sure you get the electricity compliance certificate and know how old the geyser is.


“It also won’t hurt to ask the seller why they are selling. Sometimes it may be because the area is not a good place for a family, especially if you have small children.” So be sure to do thorough research of the area.


Not ensuring that the previous owner’s debts on the house are paid off


Unless you are buying a new house from a developer, make sure that the previous owner has settled any debts he has on the house such as his rates and taxes. Otherwise, if you buy a house with unsettled bills, you may be liable for the payments.


Assuming that buying property is an investment


Truth is not all property is an investment.


“When I bought my first house, I made a mistake of thinking a house is an investment. I didn’t really care about the quality of the house and enquiring about after how long a house takes to start earning interests. After three years of having purchased the house, I found myself not having had made any profit. Instead, I found the selling of the house costing me much more than I had hoped for. This is because I had to repaint the house, fix the garage door and some pipes in the house,” says Edmond Modise. “At the end, I just wanted it gone, because the state of the house kept deteriorating,” Modise added.


Not clearly understanding the house plan


If you are buying a house straight from developers which has not yet been built, ensure that you understand the house plan.


“Some developers show clients houses that seem big because they have no fitted furniture, and clients fall for it without understanding just how big or small the house will be after things like cupboards are placed. Know exactly how big the property would look after furniture will be fitted in. Sadly, some houses are so small that after cupboards are fitted, the main bedroom doesn’t even fit a queen bed. Unfortunately, once you have signed your offer to purchase, you can’t cancel without repercussions."

Also read: Four things to consider before renting out your home

What mistakes have you made when buying your first property? Share with us in the comments section below. 

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