Tips for stress-free home-buying during the festive season

Estate agents in Cape Town are looking forward to a busy season despite the looming school holidays and festive season and many are reporting that there has been no slowing of enquiries for accessibly priced homes, especially in sought after areas like the southern suburbs.

This is according to Eileen O’Sullivan and Peter Stingl, of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Constantia, Constantia Hills and Constantia Rural, who say that buyers are still actively looking and the number of requests for valuations from sellers their office receives hasn’t declined despite the time of year.

“We are also expecting considerable interest from upcountry buyers who use their holiday time in Cape Town to look at property, especially if they are considering moving to the Western Cape.”

However, they caution that there are a number of factors investors need to take into account when buying at the end of the year to avoid any delays and ensure a seamless transaction.

“The deeds office runs on skeleton staff from around December 10 until after new year – and they will also need to catch up with the back log once they re-open. Therefore, transfers for December sales can only be expected to go through towards the end of March the following year.

“And with the council offices closed during the festive season there is also a delay in getting essential documents required such as transfer duty receipts, rates clearance and building plans which also delays the transfer process.”

In case of inconveniences caused by the slightly extended transfer, period sellers and buyers can mutually agree to an earlier occupation before the transfer is concluded. This would allow the buyers to move into their new homes in time provided all guarantees are in place and both parties agree on an occupational rent.

To avoid additional delays in the process of transfer, buyers should also ensure they have their ducks in a row with all the relevant documentation at hand for a potential bond application and they should apply to more than one financial institution.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen, Sotheby’s International Realty, says that if buyers are contemplating buying a home late in the year, it’s a good idea to use an experienced bond originator to help with a comprehensive bond pre-qualification and have access to all financial institutions.

“Bond originators have experience and in-depth knowledge of the banks’ requirements, so they know precisely what applicants need to get a home loan. They will also help buyers complete the necessary documentation and will negotiate the best interest on their behalf.

“This also speeds up the administrative and application process as by using an originator, only one set of forms has to be to be completed and, as originators work electronically, banks are usually quick to process and respond to their applications.

“Additionally, this will not only accurately assess their buying power, it means that once a buyer does find the right home, a lot of the financial paperwork is already under way.”

Geffen concludes that no matter the time of year one buys property, it’s always a wise purchase and, with the guidance of experienced property and financial professionals, it’s not only possible to buy your dream home but also to make a lucrative long-term investment.