Head of Gumtree Property Barrie Swart says it is every property investor’s aspirations to own a piece of real estate that will ensure long-term growth.

According to Swart, real estate investments are risky and pay off over a long period, hence it is advisable that you take your time to ensure that you pick the right one.

He unpacks things you need to consider before you go ahead with this investment.

Decide your budget

Decide how much you can afford to spend and how big the return needs to be for the investment to be worth your while. Once you have a figure in mind, start with estate agents and asking which properties they believe will match your budget and your investment goal in terms of equity or rental income.

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Pick your pocket

Most suburbs have “preferred pockets” in terms of popularity. Suburbs that are popular now will likely spread to surrounding areas, and the less sought-after pockets will grow in value. It’s also well worth signing up to sites that track pending building projects – if a school or mall or transportation system is in the works, you may want to start shopping for real estate in the area.

It’s important to ask the right questions – what do people prefer to buy or rent in that area? Townhouses, freestanding homes, flats? What is the expected population growth for the area? What are similar dwellings renting and selling for?

Look at the view

Seafront properties will always have value. With beachfront real estate, towns often enjoy a small boom, whereafter the municipality may become over-zealous and start overselling plots in order to cash in. As the plots lay vacant, the prices drop – and that is the time to buy. A home by the beach also has the added bonus of earning holiday rental income. But short of finding that holiday spot, aim to purchase in an area with easy access to the CBD and major freeways

Don’t go straight for the city

Capital cities are pricey investments – land, building costs and professional services are already at a premium, and the competition will be fierce. Instead, look at some outlying areas one to two hours’ drive from the city to cut your teeth on.

Look for a space that is popular with tourists or undergoing gentrification, where the population is expanding or employment is on the rise, or where retailers have announced they are extending their presence to.

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check online classifieds, follow project development and tender websites, sign up for the local paper and follow the neighbourhood watch and police reports. They all contain crucial information that will enable you to follow the infrastructure and the subsequent increase in rental and sales demand.

Look a little deeper

It’s important to look at the undesirable qualities a property has as well. Too many good investments have sunk because of an underground water source that caused cracking and damage after time, or because a particularly foul-smelling enterprise opened up nearby. A geotechnical assessment, as well as a physical assessment of the area, will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.