Following the global financial crisis in the first quarter of 2008, South Africa’s property market appeared to grind to a halt following its massive boom in the years from 2000 to 2006. Then, in 2010, the market experienced a brief upsurge as the country hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup, but slowed down again in 2011.

Now, in 2012, experts are optimistic as the market has been showing signs of growth with house prices slowly on the rise once more. Investors have been encouraged to purchase property and take advantage of the current market. It seems that national banks may be relaxing some of their more stringent loan criteria, thus creating a more consumer-friendly environment by a greater number of 100% home loans being granted to employed applicants.

The middle-income sector has achieved a particularly good result, with a sizeable number of first-time buyers between the ages of 20 and 50 applying for home loans. The luck for first-time buyers here is that more often than not sellers are reducing asking prices for property for sale. In combination with the low bond interest rates, it truly is currently a buyer’s market.

According to ABSA’s Senior Property Analyst Jaques du Toit, house price growth will be relatively slow in the short term, which bodes well for buyers looking to invest. For first-time buyers, it would seem that the planets have aligned to create an ideal environment which favours those seeking to become home owners for the first time. Along with the easing of credit restrictions and the interest rate cut, it appears that many banks now require a smaller deposit on the purchase price of property to secure a loan.

That being said, experts stress the importance of potential buyers being realistic about the affordability and manageability of a home loan. In other words, buyers are encouraged to look at and buy properties within their means. Not only does this allow buyers to comfortably afford their home loan payments, it may also serve as a security-net against interest rate hikes in the future.

As indicated by Ewald Kellerman, head of sales at FNB Home Loans, another possible way for homeowners to prepare for this eventuality is to secure fixed interest rates. This is, however, entirely dependent on an individual’s financial strength and risk tolerance. A decision to secure a fixed interest rate should, according to Kellerman, not be made in order to ‘overcome’ the market but rather to ensure certainty regarding one’s cash flow for a specified period.

Essentially, first-time buyers have the potential to secure fantastic bargains as long as they are armed with information and realistic expectations.

A great place to start your search for homes for sale is through online property sites. You will be able to do an advanced property search in order to specify the geographical area, size and price range of the property you are interested in. When pictures are available you will also be able to get a realistic understanding of how much renovation may be needed on the property – an important factor for first-time buyers with financial constraints.

Have a look at all the amazing properties for sale on MyRoof.co.za – and take your first step to becoming a home-owner!

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