Covid-19 has had a huge effect on all aspects of South African lifestyles, not least of which is the effect it has had on our perception of our homes. Never before have we had to spend so much time in our own living spaces, or had to perform so many different tasks in the same place.
For many of us, this has meant discovering the limitations of our current properties, triggering a search for a more suitable home in which to enjoy our new normal. Luckily, there has never been a better time to venture onto the property market. Tony Clarke, MD of the Rawson Property Group, explains how best to navigate it in today’s unusual times.
“The most important thing for buyers and sellers at the moment is safety,” says Clarke. “We’re not over the coronavirus crisis yet, and we need to remain vigilant in terms of hygiene protocol.”
For sellers, Clarke says this means partnering with a real estate agent who is fully equipped to market their properties effectively online.
“You need more than just great photographs and evocative descriptions,” he says. “3D tours, virtual show houses, and live online viewings have also become essential.”
Stringent protocol for in-person viewings is also vital to protect the health of buyers, sellers, and agents alike. Clarke says sellers are well within their rights to restrict visits to pre-qualified buyers only.
Do the prep
Getting prequalified is an important step in today’s market as it shows buyers are serious and able to follow through on their enquiries. However, Clarke says buyers aren’t the only ones who need to do some advanced preparation. Sellers should also put a bit of work into getting their homes – and listings – market-ready.
“We’re still in a buyers’ market, which means sellers need to be competitive both in terms of pricing and aesthetics,” he says. “Don’t underestimate the value of a deep clean, a coat of paint, and a tidy garden.” According to Clarke, the right price is vital, too.
“Sellers should ensure their agents are not only using the latest data and technology for their valuations but substantiating their recommendations with easy-to-understand comparative market analysis.”
Keep an eye on the future
With excellent value for money on offer, a great selection of properties to choose from, and record-breaking low-interest rates, it can be tempting to dive into a purchase (or sale) without overthinking things. Clarke urges buyers and sellers to remember the long-term nature of property investments and make sure their decisions don’t only suit their needs today, but also in the future.
“Buyers, in particular, need to be sure a property will support their lifestyle for the next five to ten years at the very least,” he says. “Consider things like some room to grow if you hope to start a family, and make sure the location offers everything you may need in terms of job opportunities, schools, shops, transport, sporting, and social facilities.”
Buyers should also be aware of the additional costs that come with buying and owning property. Transaction fees and transfer duty can add significantly to a property’s purchase price, while rates, taxes, electricity, water, insurance and maintenance will be ongoing costs for the duration of ownership.
“I think the main thing at the moment is to make sure you’re following sound advice from a property professional,” says Clarke. “There are outstanding opportunities out there, but there are also some pitfalls. Don’t put your future happiness at risk by making impulsive property choices.”