How to house hunt in a buyers’ market

There are more properties to choose from in a buyer’s market but the fundamentals of finding the one that offers the best value are the same in any conditions.

So says Martin Schultheiss, CEO of the giant Homenet estate agency group, who notes that first-time buyers especially would do well even now to prepare before setting out on a househunt.

In the first place, he says, buyers need to establish what they can afford and preferably obtain confirmation that they will be able to obtain a home loan, since the banks are extremely cautious about home financing at the moment.

“On the other hand, though, those who have a deposit and a good credit profile may be able to negotiate a preferential interest rate, and even a slight reduction – say half a percent – can mean considerable savings over the lifetime of the bond.”

Once buyers know what price range they can afford, it is time to narrow down the type of property, for instance flat, townhouse or traditional stand-alone home.

Buyers then have to decide which areas will suit their circumstances. Factors that should be taken into account include the distance to workplaces, schools, medical services, and shopping and entertainment facilities. With fuel prices rocketing, easy access to facilities is taking on a much greater significance in buyers’ choice of area, Schultheiss says.

Finally, buyers should decide whether they prefer to buy an older or newer property. Older properties generally offer more home per rand, while newly-built properties usually hold the advantage that no transfer duty is payable. New homes are also often more secure and easier to maintain.

But, advises Schultheiss, don’t succumb to pressure tactics and sign an offer to purchase before you have viewed and compared a fair number of homes. “This is good practice in all property transactions - and more so in a buyers’ market.”

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