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Searching for a property online

08 August 2018
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Technology has made the world smaller and various online property platforms around the globe now make it possible for prospective buyers to search for a property without being in the same town or even the same country for that matter. 

The prospect of searching for property remotely certainly includes many benefits, but there are also very important considerations to keep in mind before embarking on such a journey. Charles Vining from Seeff Sandton weighs in: 

-       Internet scams and online fraud is rife so always be extremely cautious. Only visit websites that belong to a reputable agency with a strong track record in that town/country and avoid private sellers marketing their properties online as it is difficult to verify who is legitimate.

-       While pictures can give you a general feel of a property this is not enough as they can be extensively retouched or improved to create a misleading picture of the home. Some agencies offer virtual reality videos that are especially important for someone who is considering buying remotely. Videos can offer a true reflection of space and are less likely to be manipulated.

-       While many buyers today begin their property journey as “remote buyers” it is still crucial that at some stage they visit the property themselves or send a representative they trust completely to view it on their behalf. This is an absolute must before putting pen to paper.

-       The process of shopping for property online can be rather overwhelming. When you log onto any of the property portals you may find hundreds of property options and the same property repeated in several listings because many agents may be working on the same property. When looking at a single agency however the advantage is that the same property will not be listed twice.

-       Use broad parameters when searching for property online, for example the area you are interested in buying in. Start with your key suburb and then use Google maps to understand the surrounding suburbs. You never know what sort of property at what sort of price is available in the suburbs immediately neighbouring the suburb that you are interested in. You could surprise yourself with some additional, good options.

-       Look at property 10% below your budget amount and 10% above your budget amount when it comes to price. When you search below your budget amount you may find very good deals (although the property may need some cosmetic work or minor renovation to be your ideal home, you win on price). When you search above your budget you may come across a seller that is open to negotiation. The agent will be able to tell you whether the owner would consider offers below the selling price.

-       Educate yourself as to the market related prices within the area/s you are looking at. If you do this you’ll be able to eliminate grossly overpriced properties from the get-go and save a lot of time.

-       Before visiting a property with an agent, verify the agent and/or the agency they work for. You could call the office number and make sure the agent works there. You could double-check that the agent is a registered agent by clicking on the Privy Seal on their email signature or logging onto the EAAB website.