Helpful tips if you are looking to buy a house

Our one-year-as-house-owners anniversary is approaching this winter and I have done a lot of reflecting in regards to how lucky we got with our home. Things just fell into place so well and I wanted to share some tips should you need them.
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1. Speak to real estate agents. Myself and Malcolm were apprehensive about dealing with Estate Agents in the beginning of our house hunting journey. They seem to be sharks who only care about getting their cut from the deal. In many cases when phoning around, this was very apparent. As soon as they heard the budget we were working with, they immediately pushed us down their priority list. Determined to find our home, we kept calling agencies and found a really nice one who eventually led us to the house we bought. She handled all the paperwork and was the perfect middleman during the process. Once you find your agent, be clear from the beginning that they need to work their commission into the loan price (this is a general rule though). This will avoid any major costs popping up once the deal is done and you may have not been expecting to pay more.

2. All you need is 75%. Don't go out looking for the perfect place because chances are, that if you are on a budget, it wont exist for the amount you are willing to pay. That being said, I also have to add that you don't need to settle for rubbish either. When considering a property, make sure it meets at least 75% of your wants/needs/likes. If you find something like that, you are on your way to a good start. The other 25% can be made up over time.

3. Speak to those nosy neighbors who are peeping over the wall. We have an elderly neighbor who has lived next door for 35 years. This helped us a lot as he knew what repairs were done to the house in that time, if there were any crime incidents in the area and he also gossip about the other neighbors in the area (regarding noise levels etc). Surrounding houses need to be taken into consideration when house hunting as they may contribute on determining the resale on your house in 20 years time. If your neighbors don't seem to care about their property, it will be harder to sell a house that is right next to "those people" who's house looks like it's about to fall down.

4. Do research on the area's geological situation. When Malcolm and I were house hunting, we were very set on the area we wanted to stay in which was nice as we could do research on the area. We found that the ground movement in our area is pretty active as there are many lakes, dams and rivers nearby. We understood that our house would be prone to movement thus ending up with small cracks here and there and these would need to be fixed every few years. If you aren't aware of these types of issues, you cannot adequately prepare for future expenses and repairs.

5. The "Green Thumb" factor (which I totally just made up). If you are a gardening type of person or if you would like to have a nice landscape around your house, it will save you a lot of money if the house you are looking to purchase, has an existing or a well established garden with trees and some bushes. Unfortunately we didn't think of this when buying our house. One of the main reason we purchased our property was due to the huge garden and backyard, however it is very bare with only 3 trees and bone-dry, crunchy grass. After working out a 'garden budget' we realized that it would take another R30,000.00 just to get the landscaping and irrigation put in. This is something that we completely missed and now have to save up for. Not a biggy though, Malcolm and I are willing to do most of the work ourselves and will take time to enjoy working to put it all together. Who knows, it may be more rewarding that way.

These are 5 of many tips out there on the interwebs. I hope they help nonetheless.


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