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That unique home

Homebuyers should beware the temptation to buy that imaginatively designed house that stands out from all its neighbours because of the turret on the roof and the striking purple plaster around the windows and doors.

That unique home may say a lot about your individuality, but it could cost you dearly in the long run, says Dr Piet Botha, chairman of the Nationlink estate agency group.

The biggest problem, he says, is that mortgage lenders who look at properties as security for home loans are likely to have concerns about the resale value of such a home.

“If a property does not blend into the neighbourhood, or is perhaps much bigger than the surrounding houses in a middle-class suburb, lenders may well decide that it will be too difficult to sell in an emergency, and refuse to finance your purchase.

“More seriously, though, they may refuse to grant a loan to any prospective buyer when it is your turn to sell, leaving you stuck with the property unless you can find a cash buyer that shares your appreciation of the home’s eccentricities.”

In today's market, notes Botha, there is much more demand for an additional playroom, an outdoor entertainment area, or a new alarm system than there is for a turret on the roof. “Consequently, existing owners also need to take care when making alterations and extensions that these will not make their home unsaleable.”

Most owners know that if the cost of an “improvement” would put their home above the price of most others in the neighbourhood, there is little chance of reclaiming that cost on the eventual sale.