While renting gives a sense of freedom, geographically as well as financially, money wise it is better to buy than to rent. After all – who wants to be paying off someone else’s bond after all.
Buying comes with a lot of responsibility and often requires a rethink of your spending freedom, so it is super important to buy the right place for you.
The first step is to consider the following:
- Location location location
Decide where you want to buy an apartment. Do you want to live near your family and friends? How close do you want to be to amenities such as shops and transport? You might want to draw up a shortlist and visit those areas to see if it’s a fit with your lifestyle.
- Make sure you are getting value for money. Do enough market research to ensure that the market prices in the area won’t fall in the near future (and hopefully rise), and that the price you are paying is in line with similar properties in the area. Speak to different agents to make sure you get realistic information.
- Keep your options as open as possible. Visit as many places as you can so that you know what to expect in your price range. Additionally, you may realise that you want something different than you originally thought, or that you would like certain features in the apartment that previously never crossed your mind.
Once you have found that dream apartment, it’s important to keep your eyes and mind wide open and consider the following aspects. Finding the perfect place often causing temporary blindness regarding the less attractive aspects of the apartment, so you must remain realistic.
- Check that the apartment is close to everything you might need, e.g. transport, health facilities, the gym, shops and work. While it can be worthwhile to compromise on one or more of these, in the long run the extra time it takes to travel to work every morning or the fact that the gym is too far for a daily pre-work workout can become grating.
- Also consider the flipside of this – how close is the apartment to big roads, night clubs, shopping centres or other people magnets? This will affect your life in ways you do not yet understand. Noise, travel congestion and other interruptions are annoying and should be avoided. Visit the area during rush hours and at night or over weekends to see what you might be dealing with. This may also affect the pricing market of the area in case of commercial expansion or deterioration of a suburb.
- How old is the property? Does it need a lot of repairs or refurbishment? Does it have an established garden, if applicable? Make sure that the building has all the correct compliancy documents before you sign. These hidden costs can quickly add up to a lot of money which is not in your initial budget.
- How secure is the property as well as the area?
- Do you have any outside space, such as a garden, patio or balcony?
- What are the maintenance charges? This would include property tax, water and sanitation, electricity, levies, charges for garden and/or facilities maintenance, parking and security. Before you sign, make sure you know which of these are included and to how much these extra charges amount. Once again, check for hidden costs.
- If you have your own transport, make sure that parking is available. Check with the previous tenant if their parking bay will automatically be made available to you.
Buying an apartment is a big step and a huge financial exercise, but if you do the proper research and make the right buy, there are few things as nice in the world than sitting back in your own living room and think: “This is mine.”