Where To Start When Searching for Your Property

Making the decision to purchase a property isn’t one that you take easily.  For most of us, our property is our biggest financial asset.  Searching for the right property is important, so here are some tips on how to go about it.

The very first thing you need to do before you start shopping is to have yourself property pre-qualified so that you know what finance you qualify for, what cash you need to have on hand for the costs and for a deposit, and what you can afford.

Resist the temptation to search for properties until you know this.  It doesn’t take long.  A bond originator such as Ooba can do this in a day or so.  If you’re self-employed, you will need additional supporting documentation.  Do this process correctly and not only will you know what you can afford, but when you do make an offer when you are pre-qualified it carries much more weight.

Once you know what you can afford, then you can commence the process of finding a suitable property.  First research the areas you want to live in.  Are there properties in your price range?  If not, you will need to look in alternative areas.

Start your search by looking at the property portal websites and the local newspapers.  You will be able to identify properties that fit your criteria and price range.  You should search for properties listed within 7-10% of your maximum price.  That doesn’t mean every property is negotiable, as some are correctly priced – but others may be slightly overpriced and the sellers may respond to a fair market value offer.

Once you have your shortlist contact the listing agent to view the property.  Some agents may offer to source listings for you from different companies.  In most cases though, it’s much better for you to work directly with the listing agent.  When you do, you know your agent can negotiate directly with the seller for you.  You will usually know if there are competing offers, and it will give you the best opportunity to secure the property you want.

When viewing properties there are important questions to ask:  How long has the property been listed for?  Are there any structural defects the seller needs to disclose?  Are there approved plans for the property as it stands (and ask to see them)?  Are there any competing offers on the property?

Once you have viewed the properties then rate them against your criteria.  Any property scoring 7 out of 10 merits serious consideration.  Select the property you like best and make a written offer.  My advice is to make your best offer.  Ask the agent what terms the seller would like – such as transfer and occupation dates.  Let the agent know it’s your best offer.  If you can’t reach an agreement with the seller, then offer on your 2nd choice. Put down a deposit, and get your bond application in.  Happy shopping!

Steve Caradoc-Davies

Principal of Harcourts Platinum
Director of Harcourts South Africa

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