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Buying your first home? Be careful about the area you choose to live in.

Buying a home in the right area will make a huge difference to not only your lifestyle, but the value of your property.

Buying a home in the right area will make a huge difference to not only your lifestyle, but the value of your property.

Published Mar 24, 2022

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The most exciting part of the property buying process – apart from being handed the keys to your new home, is viewing the potential properties you could call home.

By this point, you probably already have our paperwork in order and, hopefully, have pre-approval for a bond.

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But, be warned, as exciting as viewing properties might be, you will probably end up getting confused at some point or second guessing yourself. And before you can begin to search for the home of your dreams, you need to have an idea of where you want to live.

So what should you consider when choosing an area in which to buy your first home?

The first criterion, says Jawitz Properties Sandton branch manager Jeremy Craig, is your budget and whether the area you fancy will offer what you want within that budget.

“It is always a good idea to get some indication of what you can afford so you can go shopping with confidence.”

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Important considerations include schools, places of worship, retail access, distance from work as well as access to major arterial routes and the kind of traffic you will face.

“Generally, the closer to the CBD, the more expensive an area becomes and you will need to consider that in your budget.

“There are different types of properties you can buy, depending on the lifestyle you intend to lead. Depending on whether you are an executive or a family, downscaling or upscaling, there should be options in terms of houses, clusters or sectional title to choose from.”

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Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/Max of Southern Africa, says many buyers focus on the home itself, and compromise on its location, but this is likely to hurt their pockets.

“It is always better to put location as a top priority and rather compromise on the property. While it is impossible to change a property’s location, the home can be renovated or changed to meet the owner’s needs.”

Matseleng Mogodi, founder and principal of Snooks Estates, says it is important to know the surroundings and the feel of the place where you are considering living.

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“Look at it objectively because this will help you to erase some of the doubts that normally creep up on individuals before buying a property.

“The key considerations centre on what your family needs, such as, are there small children who will need to attend schools nearby or creches? Is there reliable public transport and proximity to work to avoid long hours on the road?”

If there are teenagers, is the area is safe for young people as they will want to spend time with friends and socialise.

And, while Mogodi says it might seem unfair to mention this, if one partner struggles with substance abuse, the area you choose to buy in could promote or curb this habit.

“You may also have to look at your lifestyle, and the security in the area where you want to buy. It is a big choice to want to stand out or blend in, but you also have to deal with the consequences.”

Property practitioner Cacisa Mgudlwa, who is also a town planner and founder of PropertyTalk with Cacisa, says a good location provides potential for exponential growth and development.

“The area needs to indicate whether it has potential demand for property over both the long and short term which increases the value of your property over time.

“Properties in a good location will remain more popular and profitable compared to those in less desirable areas.”

Some important factors to consider when you are looking for a good area to invest in, she says, include:

Safety: Personal safety and physical security have become two of the most important issues to consider when choosing a neighbourhood to invest in.

“Examine the recent police or crime stats from the local Community Police Forum before you sign the offer to purchase.”

Access to public amenities: Make sure your potential property meets your expectations and needs.

“Having good access to amenities not only drives the appetite for investment, but also adds value and desirability to your property. It gives you confidence that the area has good bargaining potential.”

Mgudlwa says people want convenience, so the better the amenities surrounding your property, the more valuable your property should be, and the greater the potential it has to increase in value over time.

Provision of Infrastructure services: This has an impact on the value of the properties in an area. Adequate basic services, such as water and electricity supply; storm water; pavements; improvement of roads and public spaces elevate the demand for property in an area.

Neglect and poor service delivery, will have a “massive influence on the resale value of a property over the long term”, she says.

While factors such as schools, amenities including hospitals and shopping centres, as well as easy access to highways, and an area’s safety, need to be taken into consideration, resale prospects should also weigh heavily says Karen Turner, property practitioner at Jawitz Properties North Coast.

“Buyers want to avoid buying something now that will result in a problematic future sale.”

Goslett adds estate agents are often privy to listings before they are uploaded to a property portal, so it is not unheard of to have a property sell before it even reaches the market.

“Partnering with an estate agent allows you first pick of any suitable listing as soon as they enter the market,” he says.

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