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7 do’s and don’ts of buying your first home

7 do’s and don’ts of buying your first home

If you’ve clicked on this article, chances are you’re trying to decide whether to buy a new home – maybe your first home. It’s a massive decision, as it’s probably be the biggest purchase you’ll ever make. Times are tough and you don’t want to do something that will jeopardise your lifestyle or your family’s wellbeing, right? 

The good news is, it’s normal to be nervous – nerves are what stop people from getting hurt! It’s also normal to take intelligent and informed steps to look after your money, and yourself.

Here are a few expert tips to help you negotiate around the minefield of first-time home-buying.

 THINGS TO DO when you’re buying your first home

1. It’s a good idea to get pre-approved for your first home

Get your credit status checked, and make sure you have enough income to afford the house you have your eyes on without getting into trouble, or affecting your lifestyle too much.  If you are under debt review, wait a while until you’ve paid off your debts and are no longer under review.

2. Find out – do you REALLY need a real estate agent to buy your own home?

In some cases, working through a real estate agent is recommended – but often, you have the opportunity to buy your first home without one. Real estate agents charge commission on a sale - whereas if you’re interested in investing in a brand new housing development, the property developers (such as those that Affordable Home SA works with) often allows you to bypass the agency process, and save on extra fees.

3. Be open-minded and use your imagination

Most people are not Donald Trump or Jacob Zuma, and can’t expect to live in a gold-plated penthouse like Trump Towers, or a huge rural compound like Nkandla! The fact is that most first-time homebuyers will have more average expectations than those guys. The main things to be concerned about are “do I like the area I’m buying in?” and “is my house going to be big enough for us?” Everything else can be worked on over time. For example, you can improve your home by adding a carport or a new driveway, or a different surrounding wall. There are many ways to turn average into awesome.

4. If at first you don’t succeed - keep looking, and stay positive

Buying a home can be a long and daunting process, but it is worth it in the end! Don’t give up if you can’t find what you’re looking for right at the beginning -  new developments and houses come on the market all the time. If your credit check didn’t go through, don’t be disheartened – think about getting a partner to invest with you, or clear some debts, then apply again.

THINGS NOT TO DO when you’re buying your first home

5. Don’t worry about buying for the first time in an up-and-coming area

After all, no-one is stopping you from selling up and moving elsewhere later down the line, if it suits your needs. If you’re a young married couple just starting out, or a small family, you might decide that you can live very nicely in a 2 or 3 bedroom house in an average-income area. If you’re looking at buying your first home in a brand-new housing development, look at how the area has potential to develop and increase in value – for example, once you (and hopefully your neighbours!) have a nicely established garden.

6. Don’t spend a lot of money on other stuff while you are busy buying your first home.

It sounds pretty obvious, but many people get caught up in the excitement of a big purchase – especially if they buying a new house because they received a big raise at work, or an inheritance. Remember that the bank will take your other expenses into consideration. Also bear in mind that once you’ve decided to buy your own home, it’s a very strict contract – you don’t want to get in credit trouble! Once you’ve sorted out your biggest expense, you can go ahead and get financing for that brand new Toytota Etios!

7. Don’t think with your heart – use your head

Making a big decision like buying a new home can make people emotional. Maybe you’re looking at a neighbourhood that’s further from your family than you are used to, and you are worried about becoming part of a new community. Maybe you are nervous of the expense involved in buying a house. Maybe you even have jealous friends and relatives who are currently unable to take such a big step in life, and are giving you trouble! Here’s a tip – write down whatever’s bothering you, then read over them, then see how you can discuss those things with your family and friends. Also discuss your concerns with your estate agent or housing developer who is handling your application process. It’s amazing how much smaller problems can seem when you get them off your chest, and work through them with others.


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