Getting that first foot on the property ladder is a huge and exciting moment, but it also comes with a lot of fear and uncertainty. Schalk van der Merwe, franchisee for the Rawson Properties Helderberg Group, shares the most common anxieties first-time homebuyers and investors may experience, and explains how to avoid letting these fears affect your success on the market.
Paying too much
“Buying property is one of the biggest financial decisions a person can make, so it’s really not surprising that the number one fear we see from buyers is the fear of overpaying,” says Van der Merwe. “There are a huge number of trends and influences that contribute to a property’s value, which can make it very hard to judge if a listing price is reasonable as a newcomer to the market. The only way to ease that anxiety is to arm yourself with solid, substantiated evidence.”
According to Van der Merwe, any good real estate agent would be happy to sit down with a buyer to discuss a property’s listing price and the reasons behind its valuation. This takes all the guesswork out of making an offer by enabling buyers to make confident and fully informed decisions.
“Remember, trends like buyers’ and sellers’ markets don’t always apply the same way in specific areas, or to specific properties and property types,” he adds. “It’s vital to base offer decisions on specific data that takes context into consideration, rather than generalised – and often outdated – public domain advice.”
Not finding the perfect fit
Everyone wants their first home to be their dream home, but realistically, budget limitations seldom make this possible for first-timers. Van der Merwe says it can be less stressful making compromises when buyers understand that their first home doesn’t have to be completely perfect to act as the perfect stepping-stone towards their future dream home.
“Keep an open mind during the property search, and focus on your must-haves rather than your nice-to-haves,” he says. “Every home has pros, cons, and loveable quirks – don’t miss out by judging a book by its cover. More importantly, remember that even the most modest property provides invaluable equity in the market, getting you one step closer to affording your ‘forever’ home down the line.”
Fear of missing out (FOMO)
Competition for properties can be intense. Even in today’s sluggish market, Van der Merwe says certain listings never even make it to online portals before being snapped up.
“FOMO is very real in property,” says Van der Merwe. “We see buyers paralysed waiting for the perfect property that could be just around the corner, and buyers terrified that if their offer is not accepted, they’ll lose their only chance at their dream home.”
These fears become completely unnecessary, however, when buyers are supported by experienced property professionals.
“A knowledgeable and reputable agent can help you set reasonable expectations for your purchase so that you don’t waste time waiting for a unicorn that is never going to materialise,” he says. “They can also help you expedite an offer and make it as attractive as possible without overpaying, and prepare you to respond wisely if your bid is not accepted.”
Discovering unexpected defects
Nobody wants to get the keys to their new property only to find the roof leaks like a sieve or the foundations are subsiding. While sellers are required to disclose defects up front, Van der Merwe says the voetstoots clause in South African property contracts makes it the buyers’ responsibility to ensure a full inspection is done before the sale is finalised.
“A good real estate agent can also be an asset here, not just connecting buyers with reputable inspectors, but flagging areas for investigation based on years of experience dealing with properties in all conditions,” he adds.
Not understanding the sales process
For first-time buyers, the property sales process often feels overly complicated and obscured by legalese and jargon. According to Van der Merwe, this creates a lot of unnecessary anxiety that can be avoided with the help of a property professional who understands all the ins, outs and implications.
“We often see buyers misinterpreting processes like negotiating a final purchase price and ending up disappointed by the outcome,” he says. “This really is easy to avoid when you’re working with a trusted advisor who can guide you through the complete purchase journey and make sure you know exactly what to expect, every step of the way.”
To make sure you’re working with the right partner, Van der Merwe recommends researching the company and agents with whom you will be working.
“Make sure they are experienced and active in your neighbourhood, are backed by a reputable brand, and have all the support services necessary to facilitate a successful transaction,” he says.