7 Tips for First-Time Homeowners in South Africa

It is important to start on the right footing as a first-time homeowner in South Africa to secure the home’s value and make your life easier, says Cobus Odendaal, the CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg.

According to Odendaal, while buying a home is a smart investment and offers a lot of benefits to yourself and your family; it can come with added disadvantages.

“You now have additional monthly expenses like building insurance and municipal rates…it can easily become overwhelming, not to mention costly, especially if you’ve bought an older home that requires updating.”

If you are prepared from the start, however, potential headaches can be missed, said Odendaal.

The CEO provided the following tips for getting the right start:

Create a homeowner’s file

According to Odendaal, before you move into your new home, create a binder or allocate a drawer in your filing cabinet for important documents relating to your home, including your mortgage and home insurance paperwork.

In this filing cabinet, it is important to keep all user manuals and warranties relating to home improvements and moving expenses for tax purposes.

Start an emergency house fund

To best be prepared for an unfortunate issue with your property, having money aside in emergency savings account just for your property is beneficial, said Odendaal.

Issues involving plumbing, heating or roofing can rack up a serious bill.

If possible, get small projects finished before you move in

Completing smaller projects such as painting rooms or removing old wall-to-wall is a good idea before you move in.

“Your home is then liveable, and you have time to plan bigger projects properly.”

Wait to start any large projects

Home improvement projects are expensive, and to avoid completing unnecessary projects, it’s always best to live in your new home for several months before making any final decisions.

This will allow you to get a feel for your home, how the existing layout works and what really needs to be changed. It will also give you time to save on the cost of any upcoming projects.

Focus on valuable upgrades

It is best to first focus on improvement to the property that adds the most value to it. Take the time to do a little research – find out what the most popular features are in your area and how much the work will cost.

As a general rule of thumb, projects that typically yield a good return include:

Kitchen and bathroom upgrades
Repainting in neutral tones
Attractive outdoor living area or deck
Complete one project at a time

It may be tempting to get finished all your improvements as soon as possible, but don’t work on multiple home projects at once, said Odendaal.

“Not only will you exhaust your finances, but you will also make your new home unliveable and add unnecessary stress to your everyday life.”

Pay attention to your energy usage

This is especially important if you’ve bought a bigger home than you lived in before. Pay attention to how your home is using energy and learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and save money, said Odendaal.

He listed the following tips to save energy:

Lower your water heater’s thermostat to 120 degrees
Switch out lightbulbs for energy-efficient LED lightbulbs
Move your refrigerator away from your oven.

Source: businesstech.co.za