[ON MY MIND] Anyone can own a home – and keep it
 More about the book!

When it comes to the stressful event of buying a home, one of the ways to make sure it doesn’t end up being a costly mistake is by learning from others who’ve done it before, says property finance specialist Tania Weich.

‘Some lessons are just way too expensive to learn through firsthand experience.’

Based on my experience in selling residential property, I noticed a pattern with property buyers. It’s similar to lines on a graph. In the initial phase, there is excitement at the possibility of owning a home. The home hunting process begins until ‘the one’ is found. Suddenly the sky is more blue and the trees more green … the buyer has moved from a state of excitement to brimming with joy.

Now to fund the dream! It is around this time that the prospective home owner has a serious conversation with themselves, which goes along the lines of, ‘Well, it’s okay if it doesn’t work out … if it is meant to be, it will be …’ The buyer has geared down into self-preservation mode. Emotions fluctuate between nervous-excitement and high anxiety. There is a flurry of activity as the buyer gathers the necessary paperwork required to obtain home loan finance. ‘What do I say here? Do I need to mention that … ? Maybe I should rather not declare this … Oh, and I am definitely including this as supporting information!’ And then … the application for home loan finance is approved. Ta-da! The buyer-turned-home-owner basks in euphoria.

It is nearly 20 years ago that I retired from selling property. Actually, I retired. Period. I moved permanently to my holiday house at the beach to enjoy more family time. There was no need for me to worry about money ever again. My finances were set up in such a way that I could frolick in the waves every day, and still maintain the lifestyle I thought I had aspired to.

Fast forward to the day it dawned on me that I was broke. The only swimming I did then was in debt. I had bills to pay and mouths to feed, over and above paying for the roof over our heads, which I actually couldn’t do. My graph was going in one direction – down – and I clutched to my philosophy that if you are going to do any job, make sure you enjoy it. Fortunately I chose to forget that a drowning man doesn’t get to pick his life raft.

It’s been 10 years since I entered the field of residential property finance. It is here that I’ve learned the most valuable lesson, which I’ve had the privilege of sharing with my network: It is indeed a wise man who learns from the mistakes of others. For me, it is both frustrating and heartwrenching to see the glaringly obvious bad financial choices that some applicants commit. The sharp decline on the emotional graph is experienced twofold. Both the hopeful homeowner and I, their consultant, are prone to sinking to an extreme low. However, it is easier to convey to an applicant that they are not going to be successful in obtaining the finances to buy their dream home when I am able to offer a solution. It is intensely gratifying to work with someone who is open to taking the steps necessary to be successful and to persist in the attainment of their goal.

Yet, not everyone fails. And learns. And gets up. Some never try, either because they’re terrified of failing, or they just don’t know where to start.

There is no need to learn all of life’s lessons through firsthand experience. Some lessons are just way too expensive. My wish when I set out writing You CAN Own Your Own Home: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Homebuyer is that the emotional graph of every aspiring home owner have minor dips and major peaks. The book highlights the financial journey of others and, in doing so, provides the tools to diligently manage your own money. Over and above the wealth of information, which remains at your disposal forever (once you know it, you cannot unknow it), the book guarantees that you get to own a home – and keep it.

You CAN Own Your Own Home is out now.

This article was originally published in The Penguin Post, a magazine from Penguin Random House South Africa. 

Categories Afrikaans Cookery Non-fiction South Africa

Tags Penguin Random House SA Tania Weich The Penguin Post You CAN Own Your Own Home

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