Updated 23.02.2023

Home Buying Checklist for First Time Buyers

Owning a house in South Africa is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make, so you should make extensive preparations for it. It’s a long-term commitment that will require financial stability and debt management skills.

If you’re a first-time home buyer and you’re not sure where to start, we’ve made a checklist that will guide you in selecting the best house you desire.

1) Have you checked your budget?

We all know you’re excited to look for that dream house. But before anything else, make sure you’ve figured out your budget and know how much you can borrow.

There are a bunch of home loan calculators available online, so use them to calculate the cost of monthly repayments.

Additional costs like deposits, transfer duties, and deed registrations must be factored in too. If you’re planning to purchase a pre-owned house, you may also have to spend on cleaning and repairs.

Our friendly pro tip: get pre-qualified for a home loan.

Some lenders offer a pre-qualification process to make it more convenient for you to apply for a home loan after you’ve selected a house to purchase. A pre-qualification certificate is given after your credit score and monthly income has been assessed, and you can present this when you decide to buy the property.

2) Have you seen your credit report?

Unless you’re paying in cold cash, you’ll need to apply for a loan to buy a house. This means you need a good credit score to get approved for a home loan. If you’re not sure about what is your credit score is check it now for free online.

The higher your score, the easier it is to apply for a loan. Lenders will see you as a trustworthy borrower that won’t miss on monthly repayments.

You’re entitled to get a free credit report every year from the major credit bureaus in South Africa, including Compuscan, Experian, TransUnion, XDS. You can visit their websites and request for your credit report to determine whether you’ll be eligible for a home loan application.

3) Do you know a real estate agent?

It can be tempting to do things yourself by looking for house listings online and then visiting the properties to do the transaction personally. However, you can be duped on the price and other legalities involved in purchasing the house. 

Bogus sellers can use fake documents to trick new buyers to purchase a property with a questionable background. A real estate agent will help you avoid this situation and guide you in finding legitimate sellers and developers.

Real estate agents can also answer the most frequently asked questions of first-time home buyers. They’re professionals well-versed in the laws and rules that protect your rights as a buyer.

4) What do you want in a house?

When looking for a house to buy, narrow down your search to the location where you wish to live in. Generally, you want it to be close to the following facilities:

  • School
  • Supermarket
  • Medical facilities
  • Shops
  • Entertainment venues
  • Other amenities 

If you’re working, you may prefer looking for a house that’s close to your workplace to avoid the hassle of traveling to and from your new home.

Decide on the size of the house you want to purchase depending on your budget. Do you want it to have a garden, a garage, or both? Prioritize the feature that you need the most to make sure you don’t exceed your budget.


5) Have you checked the condition of the house?

When inspecting a house, see past the aesthetics, and check the integrity of the overall structure. Some sellers use tricks to hide damages inside the house from inexperienced viewers.

Hiring a home inspector is the best way to check the house for problems like sagging roof, rotting timber, wall crack, faulty wiring, water seepage, and use of hazardous materials like lead or asbestos. 

6) Are you comfortable with the neighborhood?

Aside from checking the house for structural integrity, look around the neighborhood to see if it fits the environment where you want to live in. Whether you love the busy streets or you’re looking for a quiet location, getting a feel of what it’s like to live in the area will be a huge factor in your purchasing decision.

7) Do you have the necessary documents for a loan application?

If you’ve decided on the house to purchase, it’s time to prepare the dreaded paperwork. 

Some documents may vary per lender, but they’ll usually consist of the following requirements:

  • Bank statements
  • Salary advice
  • Trust deed
  • The legal description of the property
  • Seller ID number

Look for the complete requirements online or at the nearest bank branch where you plan to apply for the loan.

Once you’ve finalized a decision on which house to buy, it’s time to apply for a home loan the soonest time possible. You’ll never know if someone else is eyeing the house you’re aiming for.


Buying a house is a major life decision that needs careful and thorough thinking. Before you decide on which property to purchase, make sure you’ve ticked all the items in this checklist to assure that you’re prepared to move to your new home.

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MoneyToday South Africa is a financial website aims to assist consumers with comprehensive information on personal finance, loans, insurance, investment opportunities, financial guides, tips and comparison of a large number of finance and insurance companies on the South African market.


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