Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Buying a house: The inside of the house – Part 2

Here are some more things to look for when inspecting a house you like:
  1. Check for major cracks in the walls - a freshly painted house might be hiding this (and other faults) so be cautious .
  2. Do doors get stuck when opening and closing them. Are the doors damaged? You will be surprised to find that in some homes people actually kick in their doors.
  3. Check for leaky roofs – look for watermarks on the ceiling and/or walls.
  4. Open windows to see if they get stuck or if window panes are broken. Check the woodwork. Press your finger into the wood. If it is soft, the woodwork was not looked after and it is probably rotten.
  5. Check plug points in the house – are there enough – will you need to replace any?
  6. Check light switches – you may have to replace some of them
  7. Do you like the colour paint on the walls? If not, you will have to repaint it. It is always good to budget for this before going house hunting.
  8. Check the condition of the carpet in rooms. Find out how old is the carpet. If there are marks on them, can it be cleaned or does the carpet need to be replaced?
  9. Check the light fittings in all the rooms.
  10. Does the house have an alarm system? If yes, ask how long ago was it installed. Is it connected to an alarm company?
  11. If the house has a wooden floor (usually old houses), jump on it to feel how solid the floor is. Sounds of squeaking is usually not good. If the wooden floor is covered with a carpet, it could be hiding some problems. Ask questions about the floor and inspect it.
  12. Are the rooms in the house (bedrooms and other rooms) big enough for your furniture? Ensure that the house has the minimum bedrooms that you require.
  13. Is the house structurally sound?
  14. Take a torch with you to check behind furniture, fridges and dark corners in the house.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Buying a house: The inside of the house – Part 1

When going house hunting, it is a very good idea to take a notepad and pen to jot down little notes about the houses you like. You could even take a picture of the house This is part of your research. Old houses as well as new houses can have problems. At first glance, you may not see anything wrong with a house but on closer inspection you might find a few problems.

Some things to look for when inspecting a house you like:
  1. Turn on the taps in the kitchen and bathroom and even the shower to check the water pressure.
  2. If possible, check the water cylinder or ask the person showing the house some questions. If it’s old or too small , you will probably have to replace it.
  3. Check for damp. If the paint on the walls is peeling or has bubbles, a mouldy smell or watermarks; these could be signs of damp problems. Pull back curtains to see if there are any tell-tale signs.
  4. Check the bathroom thoroughly for mould. If there is any on the ceiling, painting over it will not solve the problem. The ceiling will need to be replace.
  5. Check the shower door – the glass may have to be replace if it’s broken.
  6. Check the toilet – ensure that it flushes properly. Check for leaks – i.e. water on the floor.
  7. If it’s a double storey house, there should be at least a toilet on each level.
  8. In the bathroom and kitchen, check for cracked and loose tiles. Will the grout need to be replaced?
  9. Check the bath and toilet for cracks.
  10. Check the cupboards in the bathroom and kitchen. Are any of the doors damaged? Would any have to be replaced?
  11. Check the sink in the kitchen. If it’s damaged, you will find tell-tale signs in the cupboard under the sink.
  12. Will your own appliances be able to fit into the kitchen, or would you need to install new cupboards or make minor renovations?
  13. If some of the appliances are being sold with the house, ensure that they are working and that there is no damage to them. If the appliances are old, you are probably going to replace them.
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Buying a house: More things to consider when buying a house.

It is often said that one should buy the smallest house in the nicest neighbourhood that you can afford. The logic behind this is that the house will be the cheapest in the area and you could do your own renovations for cheaper instead of paying extra for a bigger home. In time, the house will appreciate and should you ever decide to sell, you would receive a bigger profit.

When buying a home, what most prospective buyers do not ask themselves is: “How easy will it be to sell this house?”

A highly desirable house will cost you a premium, but you may be able to sell the house quickly, if needed. In our current economic climate, there is an influx of good houses on the market and less competition. The price of houses have come down and foreclosures have gone up, and you may find one of these highly desirable houses for cheaper than normal.

A house on sale with an complete building, e.g. an incomplete granny flat, could hamper the desirability of that house. If you bought a house like that, you’d need additional funds to complete the building which might not be in your budget. You would need to put up with strangers working on your property and the noise that goes along with completing that building; and then there is also the dust and dirt to consider.

Unexpected things can happen and you might need to sell your home very quickly. If you can’t sell your home, then your plans would need to change which might result in a lost opportunity.

I live in an area where houses are usually sold very quickly, but one of my neighbours had much difficulty in trying to sell his home. Last year he had a great opportunity to invest in a business, but this required him to sell his home and move to the northern part of the country. For almost 6 months he tried selling his home through various estate agents, but no sale resulted. He has had to remain living in his home and postpone his business adventure. It’s not the type of house I’d buy for myself.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Buying a house: Where is the best area to buy a house?

Every potential buyer wonders what would be the best area in which to buy a house. What is best for one person isn’t necessarily best for another. Buying a home will be one of your most expensive purchases you will make, and you will want to know that you are purchasing the right home for you and your family.

Why are you buying a house?
First decide if you are buying a house purely for investment purposes or if you plan on making it your home.

If it’s for an investment, you wont be keeping this place very long. You will need to decide who your target group will be when you eventually sell the place. If you are buying the house to live in, have a look at your current lifestyle and also how you foresee your future lifestyle. How long do you plan on living in your new home? Asking yourself these and other questions will determine if you buy a free standing house, townhouse, an apartment, a place in a security complex, starter home, etc.

You don’t have to buy the place you see or like. The price of the house should not be the only deciding factor when purchasing a house. Do your homework and look at a few houses. It took me two years before I finally bought my house.

The Location and Site
Decide on what areas you’d like to live in. What are you needs? Some factors that may influence your decision would be:

• The distance to your place of work
• Public transportation
• Shops
• The volume of traffic
• The schools in the area or surrounding areas
• Parks in the area
• Crime rate
• Ease of access
• How the house is situated on the plot
• Is the house on a hill and does it have a view?
• Is it near the sea and within walking distance from the beach?
• Is the yard suitable for children, pets, gardening or entertaining

The Neighbourhood
Not only must you like the house, but you should like the neighbourhood too. Drive around the neighbourhood to see what the other homes in the area are like (during the week and on weekends). Things to consider would be:

• Noisy neighbours
• Are the yards of the other homes well maintained – i.e. clean and tidy?
• Are there many pensioners living in the area or are there more younger families?
• The architecture of the houses – do you prefer a more modern house or an older one – e.g. Victorian or Tudor style houses
• Look at the exterior features – a brick home may be easier to maintain
• Security in the neighbourhood

The Size
When buying a home, one needs to be practical. Things to consider:

• The number of bedrooms
• The number of bathrooms
• The size of the kitchen
• A garage
• Grounds for extending the house
• The size of your family
• Do you plan to extend your family?
• Do you plan on working from home?

The bigger the house, the more expensive it will cost to run. You will also pay more in rates and electricity bills will probably be higher than a smaller house. It will also cost more to furnish a bigger house than a smaller one.

Nedbank has a nice tool on their website that will help you get the information on areas you like. It can be found here: area demographics
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