Here’s what you need to know about buying property in 2019

 ·13 Jan 2019

If you’ve set your sights on buying the house of your dreams in 2019, you’ll be pleased to hear that current buyers’ market conditions look set to continue for at least another six months.

That doesn’t mean you should just sit back and wait for the perfect opportunity to come to you, though! Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group, said proactive purchasers are far more likely to make successful property investments.

Here are his tips on putting your best foot forward.

Plan for a deposit, even if you don’t have to

According to Rawson Finance, lenders are granting 100% loans in certain circumstance, but Clarke said smart buyers are putting down deposits this year, anyway.

“Putting down a deposit – traditionally around 10% of the purchase price – helps to minimise the risk your bank is taking by granting you a loan,” he explains. “This can have a significant effect not only on their likelihood of granting you finance, but also on the interest rate they’re willing to offer you.”

Rawson Finance National Admin Hub Manager, Leonard Kondowe, confirms that buyers with deposits have been known to qualify for interest rates as much as 2.5% lower than those asking for 100% bonds.

That can literally save you hundreds of thousands of rand over the course of a 20-year loan, and turn a middling investment into a real winner.

Don’t forgo pre-qualification

Don’t be fooled into thinking that getting prequalified is only essential when it’s a sellers’ market. Competition for specific properties can be fierce at any time, particularly within popular neighbourhoods and price bands.

“A good property, for a fair price, will often attract numerous competing offers, regardless of what the broader market is doing,” said Clarke. “The last thing you want is to find that perfect home and then lose out to another buyer simply because they took the time to get prequalified, and you didn’t.”

Apart from making your offers more competitive, the pre-qualification process also helps define a realistic price range for your property search.

“Don’t waste time looking at homes you can’t afford,” said Clarke. “Rather put that energy into finding a property within your price range that ticks all the boxes and will support your future climb up the property ladder.”

Get to know your local real estate agents

Chances are, if you’ve thought about buying property in 2019, you’ve done a bit of online research. There’s no doubt that the internet holds a wealth of information for the knowledge-hungry buyer, but Clarke says nothing can ever replace the on-the-ground knowledge of your local real estate agent.

“Buying a property is not an everyday occurrence,” said Clarke. “It’s a huge commitment, both financially and emotionally, and can seem quite overwhelming at times.

“Being able to talk through your hopes, your concerns and your questions with a professional who not only understands the market, but also the neighbourhood you’re buying into, is a great way to get comfortable with the process and ensure you’re making smart property decisions.”

As a side benefit, getting to know your local agents also puts you first in line to hear about the latest properties hitting the market.

Explore the market – and have fun

Getting to know the market is an essential step for any prospective buyer – how else are you going to learn to recognise a great value property when you see one? Clarke said online listings are a good place to start, but that open houses give a far more complete picture.

“Photographs never tell the full story,” he said, “and visiting a bunch of show houses is half the fun of being in the market for a new home, after all.

“Don’t be shy to do the rounds on Sundays and explore your potential new neighbourhood. You’ll get a far better idea of what you like, hate – and what you can expect in your price range – than if you’d only browsed online.”

Read: 3 things you need to know about South Africa’s property market heading into 2019

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