Choosing your first home? Six critical questions to ask
Choosing your first home is exciting but it can also be stressful because you don’t know much about the risks of property ownership
Here’s a list of important questions to ask to help make it easier to a buy a home that suits your lifestyle needs and situation.
1. Is the property in a convenient location?
The closer you live to the places you need to be each day, the better. You will cut down on travel time and the costs associated with transport. You need to make it as easy as possible to get to work on time, so pick an area that is within easy commuting distance of your place of employment or has many transport options. If your children are at school, look in an area that makes it possible for them to walk or cycle to school.
2. Can I afford property in this area?
Some areas that are very convenient will also be more expensive. Make sure you are house-hunting in a neighbourhood where you are likely to find a property that you can afford. This is linked to what you earn.
- Would I like to live in this neighbourhood?
It’s important to feel comfortable and relaxed in your surroundings. If you prefer peaceful evenings, you would probably enjoy living in a suburb on the outskirts of a city. If, on the other hand, you expect to spend much time socialising and making new friends, you might opt for a high density area closer to the city centre.
4. Do I want a new home or an existing property?
A house in a new development may appear to be more expensive than an older home. The advantage of opting for an existing home is that you can see what you are buying and it has an established garden and big trees. However, there are often costs associated with an older property, like rusty gutters and cracked roof tiles that need to be replaced after you move in. If you buy a new home, everything should be in working order and there should be developer guarantees on the roof and building structure. Plus, the costs of buying a new home are usually part of the price, whereas you need to find extra money to cover these expenses if you purchase an existing home.
5. Do I want to be the owner or do I want to share ownership?
There are different forms of home ownership. If you buy a freehold house, you have full ownership of the building and land and take full responsibility for your home. You make the decisions about paint colours and other cosmetic features. If you opt for sectional title, you will share ownership – and costs – with other people through a Body Corporate. You will have to comply with rules if you own in a sectional title property.
6. Will this property suit my needs for at least five years?
It takes time for a property’s value to grow. If you sell too early, it is possible to lose money. Ideally you need to own a property for at least five years if you want to enjoy a profit on your investment. Think about whether you are likely to need a different place within five years. If, for example, you plan to have children, or more children, you may decide on a house that has enough space to accommodate a larger family later. Choosing your first home involves thinking about your future needs as well as your current situation.