Moving house has been listed as one of three most traumatic experiences in life, the other two being marriage and death. Whilst the latter are more traumatic for obvious reasons, one can easily make avoidable mistakes when buying a house or renting a new one.
Buying and renting a house are very complex processes, so it’s no wonder that many people unwittingly make big mistakes. Whilst renting poses less of a financial threat than buying, the inconvenience, cost and risk of moving still make it a decision worth carefully analyzing. Unlike any other consumables and purchases, you cannot just return a house or ask for a refund, let alone demand service from the seller or landlord. Once you have signed on the dotted line, there is little or no turning back.
You can choose to learn from other people’s mistakes or experience it for yourself and learn dearly.
Lesson number one: Don’t trust anyone, not your landlord, not your agent definitely not your seller and most definitely not your friend. They are all in it for the money and will sugar-coat almost anything, which brings us to lesson number two.
Lesson number two: Try out the toilet in every bathroom. Observe the position of the toilet paper holder or the absence thereof. Observe the towel rail or the absence thereof. Before flushing, observe. If you don’t like what you see, don’t buy or rent, unless you are prepared to renovate.
Lesson number three: Renovations are not easy, especially if you were not around during inception of the house. Fixing a builder’s or wannabe carpenter’s job gone wrong may just lead to a complete replacement.
Lesson number four: Open all cupboards, especially the ones where water is involved, for example, under the kitchen sink. Mouldy surprises months after moving in may turn out to be more than just a silicone sealing exercise.
Lesson number five: Check the pressure; there is little worse than discovering that a supposedly economic ritual in the shower becomes more time consuming and frustrating due to water trickling down from the shower head.
Lesson number six: Open all doors, especially any sliding doors that are present. Poor workmanship combined with bad maintenance over time may result in a replacement exercise. Observe how burglar bars and gates operate in conjunction with these doors and ask yourself how you will maintain it, does it need paint, and will it rust?
Lesson number seven: Look at the floor and carpets and how you would clean them. Take up any offer for something to drink and sit down. Put your mug or glass down on a coffee table and watch the table. If the contents are still in your mug after placing it on the coffee table, it is safe to assume the floor is even.
Lesson number eight: Count the fixtures and fittings. It’s cynical but it’s necessary.
Lesson number nine: Looks can be quite deceiving. Scratch the surface a little bit, move a painting or two and look at the walls and the colour of the walls behind paintings. There is nothing more depressing than the skeletons of the previous paintings on a wall.
It may seem very awkward to do these things and viewing the house in this fashion may raise an eyebrow. But surely a raised eyebrow or two is worth the pain and financial burden of learning these lessons first hand.
This guest post was written by Eleanor van Niekerk, on behalf of Ooba. Ooba is a personal financial services provider that specialises in home loans.