How to buy a house with the help of property websites
There can be little doubt that millennials are driving the property market in South Africa. According to research done by ooba, the average age of first-time buyers is 34, while the average age of home buyers overall is 38.
“From this data, it's clear that the property market needs to keep pace with the demands of younger, technologically-savvy consumers,” says Bronwyn Philip, an oobaelite consultant.
The advantage of house hunting online
“The advantage of house hunting in a digital world is that all the information you need is at your fingertips,” says Philip.
She recommends starting your journey with a bond originator like ooba to find out what price range you can afford to buy in. ooba's website provides many useful tools for prospective buyers, such as an affordability calculator that helps you work out your monthly bond repayments, as well as a home loan deposit saving calculator. Both these tools are compatible with smartphones.
It's important to bear in mind that whilst the affordability calculator will give you an idea of what you can afford, it's not an accurate indication of what a bank may or may not approve, as the calculator doesn't take one's credit profile into account.
This is where ooba's Bond Indicator – a new bond affordability tool – comes into play. Within five easy steps and no more than a few minutes, you will not only have an idea of your credit profile, but a summary of your affordability and a realistic indication of your price ceiling.
Now that you've established your price range, your house hunt can begin in earnest. “There are many property portals and real-estate websites which allow you to search in specific price ranges,” states Philip.
Some of these sites will include the floor plan of the house, which will enable you to see whether it’s north-facing and give you an idea of the overall flow.
“You'll be able to find useful information regarding property growth in the area, which should give you peace of mind that you would be making a sound investment,” she says.
Many property websites also have links to Google Maps, showing you where the house is situated in proximity to schools, parks, shops and other nearby amenities.
Philip believes that South African property websites could improve their offering by giving virtual tours of the properties they're advertising, in line with international trends. “Many people do not have time to look at every property on the market in their desired neighbourhood or they may live in another city,” she says, “so how property portals present homes online can be of huge value.”
A few things to keep in mind...
“Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of virtual house hunting is that the property may appear far better online than what it actually is, resulting in a feeling of disappointment for the prospective buyer,” Philip asserts.
Another valid concern is security, she says. “There is always a risk in terms of supplying your personal information online and the various portals this information may be leaked to.”
Despite these potential downfalls, the plethora of digital tools available today certainly takes much of the pain out of the house hunting process, including applying for a bond online.
“With the correct financial guidance from the start, your job is merely to find the right property before your bond originator assists you in making your dream home a reality,” Philip concludes.