Three-bedroom clusters, like this property in Northriding, are a hot commodity for married couples.

Once nuptials have been shared and knots have been tied – what comes next? For some couples, buying a house together is the next big spend, and provides a valuable investment to make in a partnership. Buying a house together, although it may not be a first-time purchase, is a tricky negotiation because of the additional factors to think of, such as affordability, family expansion, suburb amenities, home comfort, and safety.

The housing market is currently experiencing a boom, thanks to the state of the economy, which is causing housing prices to decrease and sellers being more likely to negotiate. Supply also currently outstrips demand. According to Richard Smith, Pam Golding Properties area manager for Hyde Park, there’s a lot of stock on the market at all price levels and “buyers are spoilt for choice”.

If you’re a newlywed couple looking for a house to purchase, we’ve created a primer on the ins-and-outs of buying a first combined property together.

FIRST GET THE LAY OF THE LAND

What a good investment entails will differ between couples, but according to trends noted by Gauteng property developers, security is key.

“We’ve seen a higher demand for security estates that offer easy low maintenance living in the first-time-buyer market,” says Ynnis Wilson, Jawitz Properties Randburg Branch Manager. He continues: “Location is still important, but buyers are going for value more than location and so are widening their scope of area to allow for greater value.”

Ken Woollcott, Pam Golding Properties area manager for Fourways, notes that lock-up-and-go housing clusters are particularly lucrative to younger buyers, especially for safety reasons.

“Newlyweds often opt for secure estate, cluster, and apartment living,” he says. “Security plays a big role and we find that free-standing homes are often bought in the age group of 35 to 50, and younger buyers are not attracted to these.”

Area agents are useful to prospective buyers not only as scouts for specific areas or suburbs, but also as mediators for which kind of house best suits each couple’s needs.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION?

This four-bedroom house in Fairlands offers couples space for outdoor entertaining on a large stand size. Glenvista, in Johannesburg South, offers high-end living for couples looking for free-standing homes and estate properties. La Como offers first-time combined property owners a taste of the fine living on offer in Johannesburg East and is on the market for R4.455-million. Twin Lakes, a property with four bedrooms and offering married couples’ peace of mind in  a secure estate in North Riding, was recently sold to newlyweds for R2.3-million. This property was recently sold to newlyweds for R2.1-million and offers three bedrooms, garden and a pool in a secure estate in North Riding. The Sheds @ Waterfall is a secure estate in Midrand that offers free weekly yoga sessions, state-of-the-art security measures and an estate clubhouse. The Sheds @ Waterfall is a secure estate in Midrand that offers free weekly yoga sessions, state-of-the-art security measures and an estate clubhouse.

Another aspect that newly married couples should and often do take into consideration when buying property together is its location.

Jessica Hofmeyer, Executive: Sales, Rentals, Marketing and Operations from Century Property Developers, explains that location is still of utmost importance to first-time combined property buyers.

“This is the most vital consideration when purchasing a home: location will mean everything,” she explains. “Location determines your capital growth, the demand for potential tenants and the demand for your property,” she notes.

Smith agrees, stating that “apart from anything else, a buyer needs to be cognisant of a potential resale in years to come.”

So where should newlyweds in Gauteng look? Well – the short answer is everywhere, thanks to the current situation where housing supply outstrips demand.

From Fourways and North Riding to Johannesburg’s eastern corridor – incorporating, among others, Kempton Park, Bedfordview, Benoni, Boksburg, Linksfield, Edenvale and Greenstone – properties are offering what newlyweds are looking for. As Smith explains, buyers are spoilt for choice in where to look, as Gauteng offers a diverse range of housing types suited to couples at different life stages.

Woollcott says, “Married couples are looking for a minimum of three bedrooms in case of family expansion. They put a lot of importance on the security of the estate, home and surroundings. These couples also consider the amount of time they will be staying in the home, so layout and design is important, as well as the condition of the home.” says Woollcott.

GAUTENG NORTH, SOUTH, EAST OR WEST?

Hofmeyer makes a great case for Fourways, noting that it’s proximity to amenities and investment in infrastructure are alluring to prospective homeowners who want to start families.

She says, “I’d recommend Fourways with the new mall and Gautrain station coming, as well as all the upgrades to roads in the area. With nearby Steyn City pushing the envelope on pricing, this is the place to be. The area also has great schools and fantastic outdoor activities.”

The adjacent suburb of North Riding also offers a wealth of activities, amenities and, most importantly, security for newlyweds.

Woollcott says, “North Riding offers genuine value for money and the area is characterised by a predominance of young professionals seeking secure complex and estate living. Property in North Riding covers the full spectrum from sectional title starter offerings to full-title clusters and luxury estate living.” And with the number of quality healthcare facilities, schools, and shopping centres in the area, prospective buyers can be assured of a good resale value, too.

Real estate experts at Pam Golding Properties explain that “although Johannesburg’s North has long been the place for new secure suburbs, the city’s East and West are going through a revitalisation and are in proximity to some of the best schools in the province”.

Nelson Ferreira is Pam Golding’s Gauteng East and West area manager. He says: “Newlyweds should start small and get a feel of the area or suburb before moving up the property ladder. The East and West of Gauteng offer homes that cater to a broad spectrum of price ranges, which include security and proximity to good schools. For example, Bedfordview and surrounds is close to St Andrews, St Benedict’s and more.”

Des Hauser, sales manager for Pam Golding Properties in Alberton and Johannesburg South, brings a different location into the mix altogether, stating that the areas of ‘The Columbine Belt’ leading into the Hills of Aspen, Glenvista, Bassonia, Meyersdal and New Redruth, are all locations that offer secure living, access to quality amenities and great value for money for first-time combined property owners.

KEEP AN EYE ON THE NUMBERS

Location and affordability work hand-in-hand and most property developers often see married couples struggling with financing their first purchase – a process that further complicated by the fact that certain locations come with bigger price tags.

“Getting finance will be the biggest challenge,” Hofmeyer says, “so I always recommend that first time home buyers save as much money as they can, so that they can pay a big deposit.”

Woollcott echoes these sentiments, saying that most married couples he’s worked with can only cover the transfer fees needed when purchasing a property.

“Finance is definitely a challenge,” he says. “Newlyweds have to buy on a full bond application and we often find that they don’t have enough savings for a deposit and can only cover the transfer fees.”

DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP

Wilson’s advice to newlyweds is to thoroughly prequalify for homeownership through a bond originator. That way they’ll have an idea of what they can afford and can establish a price range upfront so that bond and transfer fees can be budgeted for accurately.

So where should newlyweds in Gauteng look? Well – the short answer is everywhere, thanks to the current situation where housing supply outstrips demand.

“Another great tip would be to deal with an agent who specialises in the area they’re looking in,” Wilson says. “An area agent will also be able to offer advice on average pricing and growth experienced over the years.”

Area agents are useful to prospective buyers not only as scouts for specific areas or suburbs but also as mediators for which kind of house best suits each couple’s needs.

“Newlyweds may only learn what their property likes and dislikes are during the home-seeking process and may take a long time to decide on a property or make the wrong choice,” says Hauser.

Regardless of what you’re looking for in a freestanding house, or a secure or luxury estate, a shared dream home is more of a reality than you may think. With the host of options available to first time combined homeowners, now’s the time to figure out what to purchase, and where.