"Our childhood home was repossessed - now I'm a homeowner at 29"

Credit: iStock
Credit: iStock

I’m 29 years old and I own an apartment. It sounds so great to say it out loud and write it down but the journey was never as easy to make as it sounds.

The first scary moment happened when I received the final email from the bank, confirming the transfer. "This is it", I thought, "I can’t back out now".

Growing up, I lived in the suburbs of Durban with my parents and sister.

When my parents divorced, that’s when reality hit and our four-bedroom house was repossessed by the bank.

Never in a million years did I think my mom, sister and I would be living with relatives, yet here were, moving from one aunt’s or uncle’s place to the next.

READ MORE: How far will my (small) salary go towards rent in different SA cities?

More recently, I was living at home with my mom because I was still paying off my car.

I couldn’t afford paying a bond and a car installment at the same time so I had to prioritise. Staying at home was an unpopular choice but it allowed me to focus on my dream. Having a supportive mother helped immensely because she knew my goal was to own property.

What also helped me was creating and keeping a vision board of all my goals and dreams. It forced me to visualise everything I want in life.

My ambition drives me and six years ago, I decided to seek a financial planner because as a 24 year old, all I wanted to do was have fun and not worry about 'adulting'. If it weren't for him, I probably would not own an apartment today.

His guidance allowed me to plan for how I wanted my money to work for me. I opened up to him about my short, medium and long terms goals over and above telling him about my dreams because sometimes, those things are not necessarily the same thing.

Putting my goals into Rands and cents made it realistic and tangible to achieve within a specific time frame.

READ MORE: How to help your children get into the property market

Property websites are a convenient place to start when looking for property but you forget or don't initially realise that the listed photos of the property you want to view do not show you the full story of the property.

It's all cute patios, secure parking, spacious bedrooms and clean bathrooms, but never the finishings that still need repairs like one of the bedroom ceilings that has a leak or the shower floor that still needs touch-ups on the tiling.

It's quite overwhelming as you only get to see the finer details once you visit the properties on show. And there are also many properties to choose from.

My advice to all young homeowners is live the life you can afford and not be distracted by living a life that is for show.

You cannot view all of them, so this gave me added anxiety about whether I was viewing the right places in the right areas, within budget. 

I started my search by view in areas that weren't too far from work but also close enough for me to visit friends and frequent popular hangouts.

My budget for the apartment was between R700 000 and R750 000 and I wasn’t fussy about it being on the ground floor or not. I needed a place that was spacious for me and from where I could access the highway and back routes easily when I went to work.

READ MORE: 'Can I stop paying my rent if they don't fix something?' - and other landlord questions

I’m looking forward to hosting my best friends over pizza and red wine, having girls’ night with games and bingeing on series. Having a space where I can do whatever I want but still being responsible means so much to me.

I also can't wait to have my reading books spread out throughout my place because at my mom's, all my books had to be packed away the space was not solely mine to do with as I wished. 

Social pressures are real and will always be there, however, it’s important to make realistic plans for your goals.

My advice to all young homeowners is live the life you can afford and don't get distracted by living a life that is for show.

We have different paths in life and the sooner you choose one that is best for you, the quicker you won’t care what other people think.

Social and societal pressures are real and will always be there, however, it’s important to make realistic plans for your goals. Secondly, seek advice from a financial planner so you can start taking measurable steps towards owning property.

READ MORE: 8 factors to consider when choosing a financial adviser

Moving in will be my second scariest moment because then it will be real for me. But when that time comes, I’ll have some champagne chilling in my fridge to celebrate the moment.

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