Buying a property sight unseen, buyer beware! | Everything Property

Buying a property sight unseen, buyer beware!

Buying a property

Buying a property is challenging enough, but even more so if you find yourself in a position of not being able to actually view a property yourself before buying.

Martin Bester, CEO of newly opened property management company in Gqeberha, Peerless Property Management, shares his experience and advice regarding buying a property sight unseen.

“As a first option, you may wish to consider renting before buying a property. Renting allows you to familiarize yourself with an area before making the ultimate decision to buy. However, there are instances where this might not be an option and in this case there are ways to view a suburb remotely.”

“There are several tools available to the prospective buyer, such as Google Earth, and Google Street View, that allow you to view an area without physically travelling there, and many listing sites offer valuable information about an area’s sales trends and amenities. There are other sites and forums available with information such as crime stats, traffic trends and community programmes, that provide information on a particular area,” says Bester, who holds the designation of Master Practitioner Real Estate and has over 20 years of experience in the property sector.

“Using these tools, but not actually visiting an area in person before making a decision on buying a property, is not ideal but if one is left with little choice than at least you have been able to get some insights on the bigger picture.” Once the remote homework has been done and you have selected the area that you wish to settle in, you can start searching for properties available within your price range.

Bester cautions that while property advertisements include photographs and details of the property, these can be misleading, outdated or biased – they are, after all, aimed to sell and so will often focus on the good and neglect to reflect and possible flaws or cosmetic and design issues. “Sales agents and sellers are doing just that, selling, so the advert should not be only thing a potential buyer relies on. At the very least look at the images and details provided by several different agents for comparative purposes.”

“There are professional companies that undertake unbiased property inspections, but come at a cost, which may not be a viable option if you have several properties to compare. However, if you have settled on a particular property, and are ready to sign on the dotted line, consider this option – it could save you money, time, and disappointment down the line,” advises Bester.

“Another option is to suggest, by means of a suspensive, or even resolutive, condition in the offer to purchase, that the transferring attorney retain, in trust, a portion of the sales proceeds for a period of time after the date of occupation, so that you can perform a proper inspection of the property, test all the installations (such as locks, windows, doors, plumbing and electrical) and look out for patent or latent defects not immediately visible or declared in the property condition report. You can then, after negotiation with the seller, have certain issues remedied from the proceeds of the retainer. Moreover, if the seller is confident about the condition of the property, then agreeing to this condition should not be an issue.”

“Once the sale of a property is concluded, it is difficult, time-consuming, and costly, to backtrack. More often than not, issues if any, found during the 30-day retention period are, relatively, minor to the overall transaction.”

For more information and guidance on purchasing a property sight unseen

Martin Bester on 041 101 1036

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