There is so much to take into consideration when buying a home it can be a little overwhelming, however, these four key points are the most important things you need to know as home buyers. 

Purchasing a home is often one of the most significant financial commitments a person will ever make. This means that careful consideration of all the factors that influence the purchase – no matter how overwhelming it may seem – is vitally important as an offer to purchase is a legally binding document.

1. Technical details in the offer to purchase

An offer to purchase contract is a legal and binding document, and often these documents may contain some technical terms with which buyers are unfamiliar with or clauses that they don’t understand. When this happens buyers should clarify any points or technical jargon they are unsure of, as it is too late to make any changes once the contract has been signed. Sometimes buyers only realise after signing the document that a technical phrase or confusing point is disadvantageous for them.

The excitement of making an offer on a property could lead to rushing into signing the offer to purchase, however, you should hold off on putting your name on the dotted line until you are sure of all the points and clauses, which a professional estate agent will discuss and explain to you.

2. The area in which the home is situated

Everyone is familiar with the well-used property mantra: Location, Location, Location. But what does it mean on a practical level? While buying a fixer-upper in a good neighbourhood is still sound advice, it doesn't matter if the amenities in the area don't fit your needs or if the home is far away from your office. Other factors to consider are the crime levels in the area, any pertinent changes to roads or upgrades planned for the area and what are the potential plans for open, undeveloped pieces of land nearby. 

For example, school zoning and proximity are major considerations for most family buyers but it’s all very well looking at a home on a Sunday. What buyers really need to know is what the peak-hour weekday traffic is like when they are in a rush to get the kids to school or to get to work.

Visit the neighbourhood at different times during the week to check on traffic, noise levels, and other important factors to you.

3. Major faults and disclosure documents

Before rushing in and finding out afterward that a house has huge defaults that are going to cost a fortune to fix, buyers should ask the estate agent about any disclosures the seller made about defaults they know about. This could be problems with the roof, pool, plumbing, or damp issues, for example.

Do not rely solely on the disclosure document from the sellers, keep an eye out for potential problems themselves when viewing properties.

When a property is sold ‘as it now lies’ (voetstoots) it means that the seller does not take any responsibility to repair any defects or accept liability otherwise for defects that are obvious on inspection of the property (patent defects) or defects that are hidden (latent defects) unless it is proven in a court of law by the purchaser that the seller knew of such defects and wilfully misrepresented the truth to the purchaser.

Buyers should test the taps and the light switches and keep an eye out for rising damp, flush the toilets and pay attention to other common property problems that are easily visible.

4. Pricing

No matter the market, a correctly priced property will always do better than one that is incorrectly priced.

When the market is favoured towards buyers, they are under the impression that they can put in an offer way below the asking price. This is not the case. Serious buyers should consider sticking close to the asking price if they know it’s in line with what properties in the area are selling for. Otherwise, they stand the risk of losing out.

It is also advisable for buyers to apply for pre-approved finance so that they know which price range they should be looking in. It wastes everyone’s time if buyers look at houses in a price range they cannot afford or get finance.

In closing, buyers consider viewing a property more than once before making an offer, ideally once during the day and possibly a night viewing too. Buyers should take their time and consider all the points of a property before making an offer to ensure they are selecting the right property to suit their needs, their budget, and their future.