Wednesday, 20 March 2013


It may sound strange but the best way to get to know your new home is often to ask the previous owner – after you have signed a sale agreement and set the transfer in motion.
“Buying a pre-owned home is very different from buying a newly-built one which comes with all sorts of guarantees,” says Braam de Jager, national operations manager of Aida, SA’s best-known estate agency group.
“With a newly-built home, whether you have commissioned it yourself or bought it ‘ready-made’ from a developer, it is relatively easy to check that all the fittings and finishes are in line with the original specifications, and that any building defects have been attended to.
“Generally, you will also have plenty of opportunities to get to know the workings of your new home and any new appliances or equipment before you move in.”
But if you buy a pre-owned home, he says, you will usually get it “as is” and, even if it has passed a rigorous inspection and been declared safe and sound, you will usually have to go through several weeks of trial and error before you are really familiar with where everything is and how it works.
“You can avoid this, however, simply by asking the agent who sold you the home to arrange a hand-over meeting with the previous owner when you move in.
“Every home is different and such a meeting will give you the opportunity to find out how to operate the alarm system, for example, or the pool and borehole pumps and the timer for an irrigation system. You’ll be able to ask where the water meter is, or perhaps just which keys are for which doors and where to switch on the outside lights.”
And most sellers, De Jager says, will be happy to give you “the tour” – especially if you make it clear that you do not intend using the meeting as an opportunity to find fault or try to re-open price negotiations. “This is why it should only be arranged once the transfer is in progress – or even after it has been registered.”
However, if they can’t or won’t attend a hand-over meeting, you should request, he says, that they at least leave behind any system operating manuals and warranties, as well as the names and telephone numbers of the plumbers, electricians and other service companies they have found reliable.
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Thursday, 7 March 2013

Put house in order to boost its value

HOME buyers are attracted to areas where the overall impression is one of caring – clean pavements, neat gardens and well-maintained homes.
“And as we can see from the growing popularity of estates in recent years, many also dream about living in an area where they can become friends with their neighbours and share school trips, security initiatives and Sunday braais,” says Braam de Jager, national operations manager of Aida. 

“Consequently, one of the best ways for home owners in any area to add value to their properties is to work with others to create the type of neighbourhood that will attract more buyers and boost home prices.”

But this needs to be a joint endeavour, he says. “It is no good expecting or requesting that other people keep their pets under control, for example, if you are not prepared to do something about your dog howling all night.”

Similarly, says De Jager, you need to attend to the upkeep of your home if you want others to do the same. In fact, you may have to be the one to set the example – or initiate a neighbourhood drive to clean up the pavements or parks, or start a neighbourhood watch group.

“If you take pride in your home and its surrounds, your neighbours will usually follow suit. No one wants to live in the worst-looking property on the street.”

Check the title deed before the deal is done

Home buyers should carefully inspect the title deed of any property they want to buy before they sign an offer to purchase.

Otherwise, says Neville McIntyre, chairman of Aida, South Africa’s best-known estate agency group, they might be in for an unpleasant surprise. “Title deeds often contain information that is not readily apparent when inspecting the home itself and careful scrutiny of the document will prevent possible disappointments,” he says.
“For instance, your plans to extend the patio or add an extra garage may come to nought if the title deed contains a clause prohibiting further building on the stand. And even if further building is permissible, the title deed may prescribe certain standards and building styles, which may not suit your taste or your pocket.”
Equally, he says, the title deed may prohibit sub-division, which would scupper any plans to sell off a part of the property to help finance your bond.
But boundary lines are probably the greatest bone of contention and it is vital that buyers carefully check that the physical boundaries of the property correspond to that described in the title deed.
McIntyre says the main problem is usually encroachment from a neighbouring property. “Fences may encroach on the property you want to buy, or a later addition such as a garage or cottage may breach the boundary. It is no easy or cheap task to set matters right – and it may well influence your decision to go ahead with the transaction.
“And in cases where the encroachment has been in place for 30 years or longer without any objection, you will have no recourse in any event since the neighbour will be deemed to legally own that part of the property,” he says.
Sellers and their agents are, of course, obliged to inform potential buyers of any encroachment they are aware of, but if neither party have inspected the title deed they themselves are likely to be in the dark. “And that’s why prospective buyers should do their own homework diligently to make sure that they will be able to enjoy the property – without restriction – in the way they envisage,” says McIntyre.
Issued by Aida National Franchises