It’s a common mistake for people to search in areas that they can’t afford which can cause you to waste a lot of time and effort so make sure you spend some time thinking about the three most important aspects of buying a home before you go house hunting - “location, location, location”!
And always remember this sage advice - choose the best area you can afford rather than buying the best house in a poorer area.
Go visit the areas that you are thinking about and use the list below to make sure you consider these 5 critical issues when deciding where you want to buy. (You can also download our comprehensive home buyer's checklists here).
1. Safety and Security
We all want to feel safe and secure in our homes and would like to buy in areas with the least crime. Unfortunately, reliable crime statistics per area are not readily available.
As a result we need to rely on other indicators to try and determine the level of safety in an area. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the area/suburb have an active residents association and policing forum?
- Is there an active police presence in the area e.g. a police station?
- Is there a security company employed to proactively manage safety in the community through patrols?
- Are there any/many vacant buildings or indications that people are illegally squatting in the area?
- What do people living in the area say about crime?
2. Neighbourhood appearance and general environment
The general condition and appearance of the neighbourhood you choose can have a big impact on the future value of your home:
- Drive thrrough the area to see if it is kept clean and neat – do people take pride in their homes and surroundings?
- Do public services in the area operate effectively? As indicators, be aware if roads and pavements are in good condition, is refuse removed, are street pole ads and other illegal advertising kept to a minimum etc.
- Is the neighbourhood polluted by nearby factories or industrial areas?
- Is the area quiet at night and not full of bars and shebeens, which may be noisy or disruptive. (If you like a good party this may be considered an advantage).
3. Property Values
The property market is one market where past performance is often a reasonably good indicator of future performance, so get information to determine if the area is improving or in decline:
- Obtain information on what prices were paid on recent sales in the area.
- Compare these to prices from a year ago, 3 years ago and 5 years ago.
- Have prices been increasing, have they stagnated or declined? Remember to take inflation into account to see if prices have increased in real terms.
4. Nearby Amenities
People are attracted to some of the best suburbs because they are well established with good infrastructure and amenities. So, check:
- Are there good hospitals nearby?
- Are there good schools (both private and public) in the area?
- Are there shops in the area?
- Is there appropriate entertainment facilities e.g. parks, sports facilities, gyms or restaurants?
If you are buying in a newer area then ask about what amenities are planned for the area - often knowledgeable estate agents in an area will have good information on what is planned in the area.
5. Transport and Proximity to Major Centres
Is the area well located relative to where you work and where your friends and family live?
- Check the expected travel time to work using Google maps.
- Also use Google maps to see how far you are from schools, family and friends.
- If you have a car you might want to be close to highways. Alternatively, if you make use of public transport you may want to be within walking distance to stations, taxi ranks or bus stops.
To help you in your area and home selection you can download a comprehensive set of Home Buyers Checklists.
The checklists cover area considerations, what to look for when visiting a show house, what to think about then buying in a new development vs an existing property and some additional things you should consider when buying in a sectional title development.
You can get a lot of the information about an area by getting an area/suburb report from Lightstone – you can access a Lightstone suburb report on their website by clicking here.
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