Being spoilt for choice might be the definition of a first world problem but, jokes aside, having too many options available can exhaust even the most pragmatic of buyers. Finding the perfect property is tricky in any market, but even more so when the supply of properties outweighs the demand, allowing buyers the right to be pickier than usual.
“Right now, the market is favouring the buyer who is financially qualified to buy and is prepared to put pen to paper. But, while more homes are being listed, buyers have seemingly taken their foot off the pedal in terms of making buying choices,” explainsGrant Gavin, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Panache.
One of the reasons behind this buyer’s paralysis lies in part to the modern ability to search listing portals on one’s own. “Portals and real estate company’s websites have great search facilities where you can tailor your search criteria. However, serious buyers can waste a lot of time trawling through all the options online. According to Private Property, there are 6.5% more properties listed on their site this September than in September 2017. This translates into several thousand more listings for buyers to scroll through. Agents already know what properties are on the market and see new properties before the websites do. If you explain your wishlist to them, let them know what you like and don’t like about your current property, and then allow them to search on your behalf, you can save yourself a lot of time,” he advises.
Many buyers struggle to trust another person to find what they’re looking for. Reluctant to contact an agent to search on their behalf, and confident that they know what they’re looking for, buyers throw themselves into the hunt for their perfect match online. But, much like online dating, listings can look entirely different when viewed in person and, while ticking all the boxes, can lack that spark that inspires commitment.
“At some point, you will need to get out from your pyjamas and start viewing properties. Counter to popular belief, most buyers don’t know what they want until they walk into the home of their dreams. We have had clients who refuse to buy a home below the road, for example, but the agent persuades them to have a look, and then they fall in love with the pool and entertainment area. Suddenly the criteria of not wanting a home below street level is no longer important,” says Gavin.
But, even if it’s not love at first sight, buyers should not become disheartened too early in the process. According to Gavin, on average, buyers are currently viewing roughly around 10-12 properties before finding their perfect match. “In a market with fewer properties and lots of buyers, it might be different. But in a buyer’s market, finding the right home can take a little longer.”
“It is, however, possible to be too picky. I would advise buyers to rate each property they view on a scale from 0-10, ranging from a property they would never buy to a property they would move into tomorrow if they could. What the buyer will eventually realise is that the 8’s or 9’s are the homes they should be considering more seriously. A perfect 10 is quite often not realistic – the reason for this usually being that budget simply won’t allow for it. The price you pay represents the location, size of accommodation, and condition of the property. If the price is fixed based on what you can afford, then you might have to give and take on a combination of the three criteria,” Gavin explains.
No matter the reason behind the indecision, Gavin encourages buyers not to delay but rather to climb onto the property ladder as soon as they can. From a national perspective, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, explains that, like the economy, the property market has its natural ebbs and flows and can shift back into a seller’s market sooner than you might think. “Buyers should make the most of the market we’re currently in before the economy corrects itself and shifts back into a position that swings the advantage onto the seller instead of the buyer,” Goslett concludes.