Want to buy a newly built home? Make sure you choose the right developer, right estate and right house
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*This article first appeared in our Property360 digital magazine
The idea of moving into a brand-new home – finished according to their personal preferences – is exciting for many people.
And if that property is in a new development, with common areas and facilities that are also unspoiled by anyone before them, the appeal is even greater.
Of course, this often comes at the end of a challenging process that involves selecting the right home, the right development, and the right developers.
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Our experts offer advice on how to do this:
The benefits of buying new
Brand-new developments, with their modern designs and facilities, undoubtedly appeal to many buyers, but homes in such developments will come at a higher price than those in a similar, existing development. In return, you get new technologies and, in turn, cost savings.
However, Lance Gore of Spencer Gore Developments, says you must not expect that maintenance will not be needed. “In fact, new builds require ongoing maintenance but it is generally on a much smaller scale. For example, if buying an older house you might need to upgrade the kitchen, which can be quite costly, whereas if you buy a new property, it will have a modern and efficient kitchen.
“There is a maintenance saving with a new build but if you don’t do ongoing maintenance, even with a new build, that saving soon disappears.”
Know what to look out for
Part of the responsibility of choosing the right home in the right development is ensuring that you know who the developers are.
Buyers purchasing a home off-plan should buy only from reputable developers who have track records of producing quality homes in similar projects, says Berry Everitt, chief executive of the Chas Everitt International property group.
They should also ensure they know exactly what they are buying in terms of floor space and finishes and that these details are clearly written into their sales agreements.
“It is not uncommon for developers to create a show unit to help buyers imagine what their home will look like once it is finished but you need to double-check that yours will be the same size and not smaller.”
Buyers should also check their agreements to ensure that all the finishes on show, such as the floor and wall tiles; kitchen counters and built-in cupboards, are included in the advertised sale price, Everitt says.
Choosing the right estate in the right area
New residential estates are being developed at increasing rates, with many mushrooming up in similar or nearby areas. How do you ensure you choose the right estate for you? Rabie director Mariska Auret advises that you first choose an area that suits your lifestyle and carefully consider whether it caters to any other requirements that you may have.
Once you have done this and found an estate that you like in that area, you should ask for the projected levies and rates to ensure that, from a cash flow point of view, the estate suits your budget in the longer term.
“It is also important to know what the overall master plan of the estate looks like – that you are aware of how it will be developed in the future if it is not completed yet.”
Finding the right retirement community Many retirees opting to move into a retirement village make this decision with the aim of forging friendships and fostering a sense of community.
But, just like younger buyers, they might be overwhelmed by the choices. Wytham Estate developer Gus van der Spek advises that they look out for certain features when touring a prospective location:
• Large dining rooms, games rooms, lounges and libraries for simply relaxing with a book: Make sure that there are multiple rooms in the development large enough to accommodate a group of people. Ideally, these areas should be designed in a way that promotes casual interaction, for example, a room with a large television where residents can gather to watch a sports match.
• Open-plan layouts: These emphasise natural light and open space and have fewer walls, which helps to subconsciously encourage socialising, rather than isolating people by placing them in separate, closed-off rooms. Also, look out for well-maintained outdoor areas as another indicator that the developers have built with the community in mind.
• Clubs or groups set up for residents with similar interests: Making new friends can be hard – even if you’re close to one another. Choosing a senior living option where there are organised clubs or groups focused on various interests makes it easier to strike up a conversation with like-minded people.
• Regular social events: Much like the clubs of the previous point, hosting regular social events, such as weekly braai or games nights, makes it simple to meet your neighbours.
• High-speed wi-fi: A strong internet connection will keep you connected to friends and family who you aren’t able to see in person.
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