Property search

Property search

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    How does one search for property in South Africa?

    There are several ways to search for suitable property. Those include print and online marketing material. Cape Town's weekend newspapers like the Cape Argus contain a big pile of property pages. Properties are listed according to the estate agency in charge of selling the property, so searching for a property in a certain area can be time consuming. Big estate agencies like Pam Golding, Rawson Properties, Engel & Voelkers etc. offer regularly updated websites. An additional option is to phone an estate agency and ask for assistance. However, buyers have reported to only having been taken to some properties and not to others. This is not surprising seeing that estate agents work for regional franchises and will try to sell the properties they can earn a commission on.

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    Where do I find privately sold property?

    Despite transfer duties being far lower, due to high crime rates property is not widely available through private sale. However websites like Gumtree, BidorBuy and PrivateProperty have properties that are listed privately. Private Property became the busiest property site in South Africa by focussing on the private seller.

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    Is there a way to figure out which areas we should take into consideration when buying property in Cape Town? We are scared to buy in an area with high crime stats and other hidden problems.

    You could rent a car and drive through Cape Town's suburbs. This will give you a good first impression on which suburb you want to have a closer look at. Keep in mind that this will only give you an impression and not inside knowledge of the area.

    Your considerations should include the following:
    - Where would you do your local shopping
    - What would be your local beach
    - How far are creches and schools
    - How far is the next township
    - How far is it to gyms and other leisure activities

    If you are not familiar with Cape Town we urgently recommend to use the advice of a local or property expert.

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    Should I be checking out re-possessed property as well?

    Buying a repossession could land you a bargain or a shocking money pit. Property selling on auction at discounts of up to 40 per cent may be tempting, but you must tread carefully.

    Properties auctioned off aren't necessarily hidden gems. If a property comes up at auction, it means the owner was having financial trouble, so the property might have been neglected for a while. There are cases where the property has been completely trashed. Possible dangers include also claims against the properties such as tax liens, contractor liens, or a second mortgage. Potential buyers can avoid this risk by working with an auction house to ensure that the property has all the paperwork in order.

    Buying a property at auction often requires the buyer to have cash flow available. Check the requirements first - each auction house and county has its own payment requirements. Down payment amounts and methods of purchasing often depend on the property and the auction house. However, cash is needed to secure your bid. E.g. you may need a cash check for the minimum bid amount of the property that you want to buy.

    Don't become to excited if you bid for a property and you actually got the winning bid. In some cases, you will not be allowed to purchase the property. The winning bid is subject to lender confirmation. Sometimes, auctions have a hidden reserve price that sets a lower limit on the minimum acceptable price. It is paramount that you familiarize yourself with auction terms ahead of time to avoid any unwelcome surprises.

    This might come as a surprise to you but is common practice in South Africa. Properties on auction sometimes do not allow for a home inspection or even provide a view of the inside prior to the auction. This means you might buy something that you have seen on pictures or from the outside. Without first hand information or having even looked at the property, it can be hard to know what you are getting yourself into, what the property's repair costs will be or the true value of property.

    In South Africa in addition to dealing with the above a real danger are squatters. Your new dream home can either be occupied by the former owner himself or any arbitrary squatter. If your new property is occupied you will have to evict them - a process that can be unpleasant at best, and lengthy and expensive at worst.