Buying A Home For The 1st Time – A Gift of a Life Time!

When we were starting off and got our first apartment, it was exciting, but it was for convenience’s sake. It was an affordable apartment and it was closer to work. We were not looking at any other incentives and we should have been. Buying a home is a big deal and everyone should have that lesson on how to prepare to buy their first home before they can purchase a home.

Property is essential but we end up thumb-sucking when it comes to the first experience of finding a home. When it is not done properly it could be detrimental to your future.

There are steps that you can take to avoid headaches down the road that could cost you plenty.

We are going to look at basic steps that you can take to avoid negative challenges and look at what you would need to consider when looking to secure a home.

I hope my story will help to put some mistakes into perspective.

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Sharing a flat and how to chose a flatmate?

I had just started on a new job on the edge of downtown Johannesburg. The salary was not that great but the home was just too far to travel in and out of JHB every morning and evening. After a year of traveling for my training, something had to change. I had no life but that was fine. Being a student, you have no reason to need to have a life except focusing on your studies. My routine was to – Up at 05h00 and take a train to MIDM, arrive there around 07h30. After a long day there I would be on my way home at 16h30 sometimes at 17h30 to get home around 19h30 or 20h00. Sleep and do it all over again.

That took a great toll on me and I decided I would measure to cut the travel time so that I can have a couple of hours to me. I made friends with a lady who stayed in my township and we shared the same view, in regard to our traveling time. We never really agreed on who came up with the idea of finding a place in town. Well, we both were looking into it. She ended up getting the flat and we shared the rent responsibility.

I have met a stranger and made friends and agreed to be a tenant in her flat that was. Not a great idea. I think the thought that she would move on was the reason I agreed as she was always on about moving out nonetheless she never did. She really changed on me, It was like leaving with your Mom. The open outgoing friend from the hour-long train ride home was gone. It was over six months to a year or so and I was moving out and into my loft apartment. It was smaller but I could afford it. I am not sure what happened to my landlord.

Starting in life with my family.

My daughter must have been just over a year and my wife agreed that we would move in together into our loft. It was not an easy journey. Finding a daycare for our baby girl. The rent was just over $100, and we were just starting off as a family/

The loft was not as big as my previous flat but it was great for the three of us. We could just make ends meet as my wife was an intern and was living on one salary and a stipend.

What bothered me with my daughter’s daycare was that it was in the City and there were not many outdoor activities at the preschool. We were in town we still had to take a taxi to work. There were a lot of advantages, we were close to all the necessary services, Doctors, Inner-city Hospital. Post office, Shops, and entertainment. We were in the performance industry we were able to take part in shows without stressing about traveling back home.

Financial implications.

The housing company was not as forthcoming. We bought in thinking we were renting with the option of buying. But that was not true. By the time we realized this we had been at the loft for over two years. I sat down and calculated how much I had spent on rent over $ 5000 and realized if we were buying all that money would have been towards our bond/mortgage. I immediately started looking into getting a home of our own.

My wife was on the ball and was all in. We had been there for a year together and we would stay there one more year. It took over two years to go through the process of buying a home. This was not a smooth journey, we were taken from pillar to post as we viewed home after home and filled in forms, and submitted offers. As we were about to get it someone would swoop in and we would be told we did not get the home.

When it finally happened.

We were now used to this process and had all our documents ready for anything. I remember we had also realized that I needed a job that would pay more to improve our ratings. I had started a new job and I was traveling a lot. We had purchased an automobile as I now had to travel for an hour to work.

We had been looking at homes before my departure and came back from one of my trips with my wife having sorted everything. Looking at this house we realized, it would need some work, a lot of work. I thought after all that waiting and I had not been around, my wife seemed pleased so we signed the contracts and we were set to move in.

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What have we learned through this process?

Estate agents – This will make or break you in your house hunting journey. I remember driving around and calling the agents on the Ad boards next to our prospect homes. What a drag! I remember one who was always drunk. He lost us a prime property that would have been a great buy. When we eventually got the home it was through one agent who helped us look. I remember the first guy who enjoyed using the work “Fashionable”, he took us to a broken-down small house on the edge of Houghton and said we would be living in a Suburb next to our then President Mandela’s Suburb and that was “fashionable”.

I remember we used to make fun of that, but a lot of agents will send you the wrong way using words like brilliant and fashionable!

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They are many advantages to getting an agent But if you don’t know them you are still in trouble:

  • The first reason is that they are for free. Even if they represent the seller they still have to cater to your needs as a client. We had already secured our loans and knew how much we qualified for. In the end, we ended up using the loans that were arranged by the agent.
  • Second, the agent is familiar with the territory – This is their field of expertise and they are more inclined with the Markets.
  • Third, Agents are familiar with the law – please do not get me wrong, it does not mean that these are known to the agent so they will follow them through. You have to demand these and make use of the agent’s full capacity.
  • The Agent can see the cracks. Well, we put all our trust in the agent and she saw all the cracks and hid them from us. This should not have been the case as agents are bound by rules set by their regulators but, there is always someone crooked and you have to be on the lookout for such.
  • Fourth, The agent can get you through to the point of signing and moving to your new home. I remember some of our friends who were on the same journey as us telling tales of agents who sold them a home that was newly built but was so small that beds would not fit in the bedrooms. Make sure they are getting you into a home that is happy with. Hold them accountable.
  • Five, they have access to homes on sale.

You can narrow the search by choosing an agent that works in the region you are interested in. Looking at these essentials, that will help if they are closer to your home.

  • Your place of employment.
  • Schools for your children.
  • Shopping centers.
  • Doctors.
  • Services – Clinic; Fire, Police; Post Office, etc.

The above list could be as long as you wish it to be and you may set your own order of priority. It does not always work out of course you may need to compromise and settle for less on some of the items as long as you will gain more than required on other items.

My take on these matters.

Looking at my experience, I would buy a home that you would be able to move in without having to fix a thing. If you have the capital for home improvements go for it. Regardless I would still choose a place that is good and if there are improvements great not fixing. Avoid TLC – it is just a polite way to let you know you are going to have to dig deep into your pockets to fix major issues with your new home.

Read up on all your insurance, from the beginning don’t wait till you are more mature. I have fixed aspects of my home that were supposed to be covered by the insurance.

I may consult with fortune-tellers on how long the neighborhood will be prime. Ten years down the line we are listening to drunkards shouting and swearing outside. You wonder what happened to the quiet neighborhood.

Remember a home is not the building but the life you bring into your house. Fill it with love and beauty and it will take care of you and your family for years to come. Take care and wrap this gift with love, peace, and happiness.

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Thank you for taking the time to read and please feel free to join in the conversation at the end of the page and leave a comment and share with your loved ones. There is no need for all of us to make the same mistakes and re-leave the horrors that have been left already.



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  1. Awesome article Ntlhane and your experience with moving out and eventually buying your own place sound a lot like most people. We normally rent first and gradually build up to taking the plunge into buying that first home.

    Living with a flatmate, especially one you hardly know is very brave, and I am sure you learned some valuable life lessons from that episode.

    Glad you finally have your own place. In South Africa the landscape can change from good to bad in a couple of years, so short of having your own fortune teller, what would you recommend looking at before buying in a certain area? They say it is always best to buy the worst house in the best area than the other way around.

    1. Thank you, Michel, for taking the time to read through our post.

      Yet it might take a while to take the plunge and buy, It would be best to do it sooner and not lose out on the rent you could have been paying into your home. Someone may be fortunate to be able to have savings, for someone who can not, your first buy does offer a 110% bond that will cover the transfer costs that are usually paid in by you.

      We can not predict exactly what will happen with the socioeconomic elements of a country as Politics are unpredictable. The best way of making sure your home or location does not depreciate is to buy in a controlled Estate. Though it may be very expensive, it provides some protection. Rather than buying the worst home, I would suggest buying a cheaper one in the best area. This would give you a gift of profit should you decide to sell later on.


  2. Hello there,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful information. I am glad that there is some really good information online for all of us to see and make the best use of it. This is one very good piece of information you have here for us. We all want to get home and I’m really excited to see how you felt about getting a home for the first time. A great feeling indeed. 

    1. Thank you, Sean, for taking the time to read our article on buying a home for the first time.

      We also glad that our information could be of great help to you. We wish you all the best in your journey towards buying your first home.

      Thank you once more,


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