SIMON BROWN: Moving sucks, but renting doesn’t
South Africa’s housing market is a fraught place for buyers and sellers right now; renting, however, still holds plenty of appeal
I am writing this while packing, and by the time you read this my wife and I will be firmly ensconced in our new apartment. I hope.
Moving is stressful and I want to highlight some tips from my experience, not only of moving but also of selling our current apartment and renting a new one.
And yes, we’re renting, for the first time since 1998. I’ve never been a fan of owning a property to live in, even less a buy-to-let. Our first place we bought with prime at about 28%, and made a fortune selling at the peak in 2007. But with the second house we owned we barely broke even, even after 10 years, thanks in part to agent and transfer costs.
At the moment, homes are taking an average of three months to sell and the only way to speed that up is by dropping your asking price; but even that has limits. We had two people interested in buying our apartment, but neither could get bank loans.
Renting was a whole other ball game, in that the agent wanted bank statements, personal spending details and, of course, everything about our debt — and no doubt a credit check was done. This is normal when applying for debt, but it was new to me.
With renting, again, aim lower on price. Life is expensive right now and it’s not getting cheaper any time soon
With renting, again, aim lower on price. Life is expensive right now and it’s not getting cheaper any time soon. We also had to pay a lease fee and one month’s deposit, as well as the first month’s rent and a deposit for the utilities.
Happily, on the place we did end up signing a lease for, we got a really good rental price, but that was after spending weeks on websites comparing prices and locations.
Moving itself is an absolute killer and full of little expenses you don’t expect that add up quickly. For example, I have a two-week overlap on my internet and a R200 courier payment to my new provider.
The movers keep trying to add new fees. Do we want our fridge wrapped for R700? Well, no. I’ve moved plenty times and only ever threw a blanket over the fridge.
Boxes were a surprise too. Way back I used to go to my local Checkers for boxes. No more. Now you have to buy them and these feeble pieces of cardboard cost more than you would imagine — and you need more, still more. If you have space in your new place, flatten them and store them for your next move.
Then, of course, the new apartment has expenses. Fortunately, we only really need curtains. But we need them extra-long, which makes buying off the shelf more expensive. Also, my TV cabinet doesn’t fit in the space allocated, though in this case we’re just switching the room around to accommodate it.
One upside is that you get to throw away a ton of stuff (in our case that included things not unpacked since our last move).
It’s a stressful and very expensive exercise. Be prepared for both. The one certainty is that it will cost more than you have planned for.
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