Buying a house isn’t something you do every day, so when the time comes, it helps to have some inside information.

An Offer to Purchase (OTP) is a serious thing

This is a legally-binding document that contains a lot of jargon. Make sure you understand what you’re signing up for. Unfortunately tenants, property agents and sellers aren’t always to be taken at their word – rather make sure you understand all the terms in the OTP, and ask as many questions as you need to before you sign.

Look closely

It’s useful to know that if you like a house after your first viewing, you may enlist the help of a professional house inspector to ensure that you are fully aware of all the faults and damage that may exist but that you wouldn’t necessarily notice, such as a leaking pool or a faulty geyser.

Take a picture, and a friend

Take photos of the house so that you have a record to refer to while making decisions. If you can’t afford a property inspector, ask a friend who has bought a house before to accompany you.

Meet the tenant

Meeting the tenant – whether or not they’re staying in the house after sale, may also be useful. They may have valuable information on the neighbourhood: is it noisy, if yes – what in particular contributes to the noise? They may also have information on safety in the neighbourhood. If they will remain in the house after the sale, it’s also worth knowing who you will be dealing with as the landlord.

A few useful resources:

A home inspector may seem like an unnecessary expense, but it can save you money in the long run. Be careful to use a qualified home inspector.

If you opt to do the home inspection yourself, here’s a helpful article and another one here. Also have a look at this useful start-to-finish guide to buying a home. For the more serious home buyer, it may be worth considering property inspection software.