Is owning property out of reach for young South Africans?

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Owning a home is a very South African aspiration. Not only is a home a roof over a family’s head – and a valuable asset that can be leveraged in future – but it also means permanence, belonging and security. It is a unique achievement. In short, homeownership is the dream of a lifetime.

This is according to Richard Gray, Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer, who says your housing dream is “entitled to the utmost respect”.

“Dreams of homeownership are undergoing tough times. In the United States, between 2006 and 2014 – the period encompassing the so-called ‘sub-prime crisis’ – around 9.3 million homeowners lost their homes,” says Gray.

“In the United Kingdom, a recent study by the Resolution Foundation, reports that homeownership has fallen to its lowest level in 30 years. In Italy around two thirds of young adults, those below 35, live with their parents.”

While South Africans are in a better position regarding their properties, he says tough economic times continue to bite their dreams.

“However, with quality advice and planning, this need not be an impossible barrier,” says Gray.

“Firstly, understand your dream. With abundant space, South Africans have traditionally aspired to standalone properties, surrounded by a garden. Changing lifestyles and evolving approaches to urban architecture offer buyers an array of choices.”

Are you looking for a particular aesthetic? How big should it be? Is a garden a priority? Must there be a workspace, in a garage or a study? Is the character of the neighbourhood important – many suburbs have reputations as “artsy”, others are particularly family-friendly.

“Answering these questions will point you to something right and comfortable for you and your family,” he says.

“Second, understand your means. Being able to meet bond repayments – ideally, to keep ahead of them – keeps a home dream viable. While most buyers have a good idea of what they can afford, many often fail to factor in the lifestyle adjustments paying off a bond may require.”

Even more, he says the occasional costs of upkeep and those renovations that you envision need to be kept in mind.

Thirdly, Gray says you need to understand your long-term plan. Modern life is highly mobile and most homeowners will buy and sell several times in their lives. Many see a ‘family home’ as a place to raise a family, but not to retire in. Keeping track of the value of a home as an asset, and its resale value is critical.

“Since 1888, we’ve understood that homes are about people’s dreams. Understanding that buying and selling a home is about so much more than a transaction,” says Gray.

“Work with agents that are trained meticulously to offer top-quality advice on all aspects of the property deals, and to provide first-rate guidance on selecting the property that suits you.” – Property 24

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