SA Property Advice - The Consumer’s Guide to Buying and Selling a Home (Part I)
Part I – Consumer’s Guide to Buying
Buying a home is probably the largest investment decision most consumers will ever make, yet they often take less time when doing so than they would when, say, buying a new car. That is simply because buying immovable property is unfamiliar territory to most people who, as a result, really do not know what questions to ask. People simply take things for granted and, perhaps, rely on others when they should not. People often wish that they knew more about the processes that are involved when it is already too late to do anything about it.
The decision to purchase
Buying a home is not only an exciting but also, often, a frightening experience. Besides living with your decision you will have to live in the home that you have bought. It is best for you not to make any costly mistakes. Before you start looking for your dream’ home you need to organise yourself by considering a few basic questions such as:
• What are your housing needs?
• What choices are available to you?
• What can you afford to spend when buying a house?
The time that you spend answering these questions in advance may save you from frustration and disappointment during your search for a home.
What can you afford to pay for a home?
Before looking for a new home it is also important that you are aware of how much you can afford to spend so that you only look at homes that are within your price range. Knowing the following will help you:
• How much money do you have available to be used as a deposit for the purchase of the home?
• How much money must you borrow from a bank or financial institution to pay the balance of the purchase price?
• How much money do you need for the other costs that you must pay when buying a home including transfer costs, transfer duty, bond costs, relocation costs and so on?
Other costs that you will be liable for
It is easy to count your available cash but remember that not all of this money can be used for the deposit on your new home. There are many other costs including transfer costs, transfer duty, bond registration costs, moving expenses and home insurance that you must pay before you are finally in your new home. The time to budget for those additional expenses is now. You must be aware of these costs when you make your purchase decision. You will also have to budget for the payment of rates and taxes to the local authority and levies to the body corporate if you are buying into a sectional title scheme. You may also wish to provide for the payment of service deposits required by the local authority; the acquisition of household goods such as kitchen appliances and garden equipment; redecorating or renovations including curtaining, security and so forth.
Estate agents must be registered by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB), and have been issued with valid fidelity fund certificates
It is important for you to know, and remember; that every estate agent with whom you deal in your search for a home must be registered with the EAAB and must have been issued with a valid fidelity fund certificate (or licence to practice as an estate agent) for the year in question.
Before you deal with any estate agent always ask that estate agent to show you the fidelity fund certificate that has been issued to him/her by the EAAB and make sure that the fidelity fund certificate is valid for the current year Telephone the EAAB for confirmation if you are not sure that the person is allowed to act as an estate agent.
If you think that you have found the right home but have concerns about its structural soundness you should call in an expert. You might even consider having the home inspected by a building inspection service which will prepare a written report. Your purchase is a big investment so think of the fee for this service as being an insurance premium. Home inspections are primarily visual inspections which may not always reveal structural problems.
What should you look for when inspecting a home?
After you have located a home that interests you, do not be shy when conducting an inspection. You will be investing a lot of money and you should investigate each home thoroughly. You can, if you wish to do so, even bring an expert along to assist you.
What to do if you have complaints about an estate agent
If you, as a consumer; have any complaints regarding the estate agency services that were provided by an estate agent, you should consider the following steps:
First discuss your concern directly with the estate agent you have been dealing with. If the matter cannot be resolved in this way you should then approach one of the principal estate agents who manages the estate agency enterprise. Many of your concerns will probably be able to be settled in this manner.
If you still receive no satisfaction you can look to the EAAB for further advice and help. The compliance staff of the EAAB may be able to assist in informally resolving your concern. Should this not be possible you may be asked to lodge a formal complaint against the estate agent concerned for further investigation, especially if the matters complained of concern a breach of the Estate Agency Affairs Act.
The EAAB’s compliance officers are not able to give you legal advice. The EAAB, similarly, cannot grant any civil redress or relief to complainants since this is a function of a court of law having jurisdiction. You will be advised if your complaint is civil in nature and, as such, requires legal, rather than disciplinary, action.
Courtesy: Agent – The Official Publication of the Estate Agency Affairs Board
“Redressing the Past, Building the Future and Guiding the Real Estate Business towards Professionalism”