Beginners Guide to Buying Property in South Africa

Deciding to purchase your very first home is a big one. In making this decision, it's important to understand that there are going to be some new challenges and hurdles that you have to overcome.

Many people that are entering this phase of their life often overlook these things and wind up having a horrible experience. That's why we opted to put together this quick guide to help beginners that are looking to buy property in South Africa.

We will cover everything from the purchasing process to figuring out pricing and what to look for in a property. Hopefully, by the time you finish our quick beginner's guide, you will be confident and ready to begin looking for your dream home.

Overview of Purchasing Process

Purchasing a home may be the most significant investment of your entire life, and so you want to go into it, understanding each piece of the process. This way, you can be knowledgeable and less likely to make a mistake. So here are the steps to understand when buying a property in South Africa.

Know Your Budget

The process starts even before you begin working with professionals to find your house. The first step is to understand all of the financing avenues available to you and how much you will be able to pull together. This means understanding things like bond affordability, your credit score, and the maximum amount of money you will be able to spend.

By understanding this, you will be able to give your agent or whomever you are working with an idea of a clear guideline on what houses you'd be open to seeing. You can, of course, also look out to do a pre-qualification which might be helpful during the purchasing process.

Check Credit Scores

One of the biggest parts of knowing your budget is to understand your credit score and have a good idea of what sits on your credit record. This is vital when it comes to addressing the bank because it will give them an idea of how much of a risk you are when it comes to investing in your future home.

While doing this so that your credit score does not take any other hits, you need to make sure that you are paying all your bills on time as well as not borrowing anything for other purposes from lenders.

Working with an Agent

Once you have all that set up, it is time for you to look for a real estate agent. You can do the whole house hunting project on your own, but employing a professional will not only give you access to more options but will help keep you from making any major mistakes.

You want to find a real estate agent with whom you can build a good relationship and who is very well versed in the housing market as well as the purchasing process. You have nothing to lose in choosing a real estate agent as there are no fees for you to incur by using their services; the sellers are the ones who pay the real estate agents for their time.

Find Property

This is maybe the best part of the process, and this is where you get to make that list of the things you want in your home. Things like location, access to important amenities, the right size, whether you want land with that house or not are all vital keys to helping you and your real estate agent find the right property for you.

Offer to Purchase (OTP)

Once that has been done, and you have found the house that you've dreamed of, it's time to start looking into putting everything in order financially. The first step of this, of course, is to sign an offer to purchase. This is a legal document between the current homeowner and potential buyer that lays out the conditions and guidelines of the sale.

Transfer & Bonds Cost

When it comes to financials, there are two fees that you have to completely understand and account for when looking to apply for your loan. Besides the overall cost of a house, you have to think about transfer and bond costs.

The transfer costs are just that, the amount of money that you will have to pay to transfer that property to your name. When it comes to the cost, this depends on a couple of different things. From the purchase price to the conveyancer's fees, this can cause a variable sliding scale. However, transfer fees are only applied to homes that are worth more than R1,000,000.

The second cost is the bond costs. This, of course, is the cost of registering a bond and covers things like the processing of the home loan application, the conveyancer's fees, and post and fees for the registration with the deeds office.

The cost of this is also variable depending on the home. To figure out the cost, you'll need to look at the price of the home, how much the bond is, plus an interest rate, and this will give you an overall idea of how much the bond fee will be.

Home Inspection

Once you've done this, you have to set up a home inspection so that you can ensure that you are getting a home that doesn't have any major defects. Once this is done, you will receive a copy of that, and then you can move on to the final step.

Apply for Loan

The last step of the process is applying for a home loan. This is done by applying to a bank or lender for the amount that will instigate the final purchase of your dream home.

How to Work Out Pricing

When you're looking to work out the pricing of a certain property, you have to take into account several different factors. Of them, the biggest two are prices of similarly sized homes in that neighborhood as well as the price that the property was previously sold at.

On top of that, other things like the market, age/ condition of the house, the views offered by the home, added features like security and landscaping, and the overall aesthetic appeal.

All of these need to be taken into account, and this can be challenging if you are not a professional. Though you can do it because there are many different online valuation tools, the easiest way would be to hire a real estate agent.

What to Look for in a Property

Another factor that will affect pricing is, of course, the property itself. This means you have to understand what to look for in a property not only so that you get everything you want but that you get a high-quality investment for your hard work.

When looking at a home, you want to look for any defects, the décor, the price, as well as location and access to amenities like schools, grocery stores, and other businesses.

In the end, though, when you're looking for a property, you want to find the one that fits as many of your criteria as possible. So though the above list is important, it is all about how you feel and what you're looking for.

Understanding the process and what to look for in a property can help you find the perfect place to settle down. After all, you're looking for your dream home, and you don't want to miss a beat when doing so.