Top Tips For Newbie Property Investors
07 September 2020
Two of South Africa’s property heavyweights give their top tips for buyers looking to start building a property portfolio in the current recessionary climate:
Paul Stevens, CEO of Just Property:
- Have a clear goal in mind and articulate it in detail.
Consider using the SMART methodology to achieve your goals in a way that is Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. For someone looking to buy their first ever investment property, it may look something like this:
S = I want to buy a property on the beachfront
M = that will give me a rental yield of 9%
A = using the savings I have and the pre-qualified amount that I can bond
R = assuming that I can get a fixed interest rate lower than 10% and that the Deeds Office functions properly again
T = by the end of November 2020, so that I can start 2021 with a tenant in place
- Make sure that you can commit to this property investment for the medium- to long-term.
“Flipping” property (buying low with the idea of selling when the market recovers) can be a risky business and while the property market is geared for buyers rather than sellers right now, this is unlikely to change quickly. Hope for the best and plan for the worst. For example, can you maintain the bond repayments in the event that you cannot secure a tenant or if the rental yield is lower than you anticipated?
- Do your research.
Solicit feedback from a range of people, including local residents, real estate practitioners, financial consultants and tax advisors but beware of sentiment or bias that may be unfounded. Ask for evidence and data that validates their positions and opinions. Revisit your search parameters in case you are inadvertently narrowing your possible opportunities - there may be high demand in a nearby area that you have not considered. Balance all this against your personal circumstances and trust yourself; no one knows what you want to achieve better than you do and, remember, even with the best will in the world not everyone gives good advice.
- Be patient.
It may take you some time to find the investment that best suits your needs. This is a huge commitment so don’t rush or allow yourself to be pushed by the fear of losing out on a good deal. It’s far better to put in a few offers even if you lose out on multiple properties to secure the deal that is right for you and your budget. And to that point, don’t be afraid to make an offer that is lower than asking price to ensure you will get the right yield. If it's not accepted, walk away and start with the next property on your list.
- Shop around for the right agent to represent you.
Finding potential investments is a time-consuming exercise and the better your agent knows you, the better s/he will be able to scour the market for the property that best suits your needs. A good agent will also be able to give sound advice on other topics, from how to secure the best finance to securing you that dream tenant.
Andrew Walker, CEO of the SA Property Investors Network (SAPIN)
- Always be conservative when running the numbers.
As with most investment opportunities, property investment has risks. For example, the current interest rates look favourable and are at record lows, so this seems good, right? Let’s say that you go and buy your first buy-to-let (BTL) and it's just scraping you a positive cashflow at a 7% interest rate. Within two years the interest rates could go up, which will precipitate a negative cash flow… That's not quite where you wanted to be and you’ll have to re-evaluate your deal.
Don't get too caught up in the low interest rates as they will be temporary! Plan for the long term when you do buy your first investment property, and make sure that you can still afford it if interest rates go up to 10 or even 13%.
- Make sure you get the right advice and buy in the correct structure.
There are different entities that you can use to purchase property. Should you be investing in your personal capacity, as a company or a trust? Each comes with different tax obligations and each option has its positives and negatives. Speak to an attorney who specializes in Trusts, if this is the route you want to take. Speak to a bond originator who can ‘pre- qualify’ you. You might find a property that you fall in love with but, you need to make sure that you have correctly structured the finance for it.
- Be prepared to pay your school fees.
As a new property investor, you are going to pay for the knowledge you acquire in the process, either for up-front learning or after making costly mistakes. Our students find it valuable to network with and learn from like-minded people who have tried and tested various strategies, and are happy to share the experience with you. This is where the SA Property Investors Network comes in. It’s free to join and you can start learning today via our free ebooks and free webinars. It’s also a great way to connect with others in the property space.
There are also property training academies out there, such as The Property Academy. These offer virtual live workshops, online short-courses such as the 1st-time-home-buyer and the SA Fundamental course, as well as individual coaching.
- Don’t forget to factor in maintenance and management.
It's one thing buying your first property but it's another thing looking after your investment and most people don't consider these costs when they run the numbers. If you are purchasing a BTL, then make sure you can afford to put away 5 to 10% of the gross rental, so that when you need to fix something you have the funds available.
As a landlord, you are required to maintain certain aspects of your property on an annual basis. Get a professional letting agent from a national group with significant experience in letting, such as Just Property – they started out as a rental agency and they’re still the biggest and most professional in South Africa.
- Plan your exit strategy.
No one can say for sure what's going to happen in the property industry so you need to plan for your exit strategy in case your personal circumstances change or there the economy takes a severe knock. In our workshops we talk about the various exit strategies that you can apply and we help you plan for the worst scenario so you get out of the deal without losing money.
For more information on Just Property please visit www.just.property or call (087) 550 2258.
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