How to put first-time buyers at ease
Common first-time buyer questions4th May 2022
Buying a property on a residential estate can be a minefield for the first-time buyer. They’re bound to ask a lot of questions of estate managers and other experts to put their minds at ease.
It will be up to you to calm frayed nerves, especially when things aren’t quite going to plan with the move or when it comes to them wrapping their heads around the rules.
To make sure you’re prepared we asked three realtors or the top questions that come up time and time again, so estate managers can be prepared for those first-time buyer jitters and onslaught of questions.
Do I need to pay for anything over and above the purchase price of the property?
According to Katya Varga, assistant area and projects manager at Pam Golding Properties Stellenbosch and Somerset West, the main questions are always in relation to costs.
‘It is important for buyers, especially first-time buyers to understand all the costs involved, in the purchase process, including things like how much deposit is needed, whether VAT is included in the asking price, and the difference between VAT and transfer duty transactions for example,’ she says.
She also goes on to explain that first-time buyers usually require more information about the difference between transfer duties and transfer costs – and who is responsible for what, as well as a breakdown of rates and taxes, levies, and building penalties payable by the purchaser at the time of transfer, as well as later on, if things go wrong.
Stephan Thomas, secure estate specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs says that estate managers should be able to account for their levies offhand when they meet with potential buyers.
‘Prospective buyers will need to know what is included in their levy and what will be for their own account. Monthly levies can be high, especially if the estate has large grounds and several amenities, so first-time buyers on a tight budget might prefer to look for low-maintenance schemes that are well run and maintained by an established body corporate. If your levies are higher than most, it is a good idea to have financial statements on hand to show the presence of a reserve fund for extra peace of mind,’ he says.
How long will it take for the property to be in my name?
As Lisa Connellan, sales and rental manager at Knight Frank says the average home purchase takes approximately three months to complete but first-time buyers probably won’t know this. The process could be a lot faster or slower depending on many factors.
Buying into an estate can sometimes be more complicated for a first-time buyer than the purchase of a typical home, especially if plot and plan options are available.
‘It is important that first-time buyers fully understand the building timelines and what happens if these are not adhered to,’ says Varga.
She goes on to explain that even though most estates have pre-drafted documents explaining things like plot sizes, prices, optional extras, unit types, prescribed lists of builders and architects, and architectural guidelines, it is a good idea for the estate manager to go through these in more detail with a first-time buyer.
‘New buyers will have additional questions like how they go about purchasing their land and how this is separate from entering into a building agreement, when the actual transfer takes place, and when they can move in. Going through this in person allows for them to get all the answers they need, as well as ensuring they understand some of the property jargon like Voetstoots and ascertaining affordability,’ she says.
What is it like to live on the estate?
Your website can only sell so much of the estate’s lifestyle component but the proof, as they say, is always in the pudding. Organising a sit-down lunch, or a meet-and-greet tea with new homeowners can really help them understand some of the day-to-day operations on the estate and get answers to some of their most burning questions.
The estate might say it is pet friendly, but how easy is it to walk your dog around the grounds for example? What do they need to do to be able to get family and staff through security, is transport available to take children to the local school, where is the nearest shop, and how long does it take before they are up and running with fibre?
‘Prospective buyers will want to know about on-site amenities such as gyms, pools, and restaurants too as well as clubs and groups that are not advertised on the website,’ says Thomas. ‘Again, it is important to let buyers know if any of these available facilities will incur additional fees or costs,’ he says.
Being organised and welcoming of first time buyers will not only help them set their minds at ease but could go a long way to enhancing the reputation of an estate.