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What you need to know about home loans

Published: February 18, 2016
by Joseph Showalter (World Money Experts)

I’m in my 20’s, working hard and my boyfriend and I am thinking of buying a house. Being one of those "creative types”, I have limited knowledge of what exactly is involved in buying a house. Firstly, I want to know, what I have to do to qualify for a home loan / bond. Secondly, I want to know how big a bond I can get. Thirdly, I want to know whether my boyfriend and I can buy a house together, thus apply for a bond together.

I set out to do some research before going out to look for our dream house. Starting at my number one question, "What do I have to do to qualify for a home loan / bond?" I started searching the Internet for more information.

I discovered that there are certain criteria that one has to meet in order to qualify for a bond. Firstly, I discovered that you have to be at least 21 years of age before you will even be considered for a home loan. You have to earn a minimum salary of between R8000 to R10 000- that's as a single income, or as a joint income of you and your partner. You must take into consideration that your credit history will be checked- any negatives on you credit history will count against you when you apply for a home loan / bond! Further more, you need to have a permanent job, where you have worked for at least 6 months, or in the case where you are self-employed you need to have been at it for a minimum of two years.

The above mentioned are the basic requirements in order to qualify for a home loan. Secondly, I was interested to know how big a home loan I could get. As soon as I knew how much, I could start searching for a house. According to numerous reputable websites online, it seems that the size bond I could qualify for is roundabout 25 -30% of my salary (or you and your partners joint salary). The bigger your salary, the bigger the bond you will qualify for and the bigger house, or rather more pricy house you can buy.

Thirdly, I was interested in finding out whether or not my boyfriend and I could apply for a home loan together. This means that even though we are not married, I wanted to know if we could still buy a house together and how this will influence us in the long run. I wanted to know whether "partner" or "couple" means married or not.

According to my bank manager, my boyfriend and I can apply for a bond together, but there are certain things we must take into consideration when we do. It is best to register the house in both our names just incase our relationship ends somewhere in the future. According to Bonny Feldman (First National Bank's Media Liaison), 'common law' relationships are not recognised by South African law. This means that if a relationship ends and the house/property is only registered in one of our names, the other will lose out. She further states that "because you're not seen as husband and wife, the one in whose name the property is registered in is entitled to the full property, even if the other partner contributed significant amounts to settle the bond, for instance. The unlucky partner could try to recover some of this money, but that would involve a legal case, and you'd have to have records of everything spent over the years - and that's not very practical!".

Taking the above into consideration, I've realised that buying a house together is not a small step in ones relationship. There are a lot of things to consider and you will have to work with knowledgeable people who will help you make sure you don’t step into any flames later on.

While doing my investigating I came across quite a few websites, which apply for your home loan or bond- making everything easier in the sense that they do all the hard work for you. They call themselves “independent bond origination" companies and all they need from you are certain documents. Their specialised home loan consultants will contact you and help you through the process step by step.

I think this sounds like a definite option to consider as we are first time buyers and still need some form of guidance. Who knows, this home loan / bond thing might still be easier than I expected!