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Five things I learned from having a newborn baby and moving across the country

24 May 2021 | Marcel du Toit

It’s been an interesting couple of months in the du Toit household. At the end of last year our family decided to make the move from Johannesburg – a city that we spent the last 12 years living and building a life in – to Cape Town – a city that only I grew up in and adore. The decision was a tough but personal one: our son turned 3, we were expecting another baby early March, and so we wanted to be closer to good friends and family support.   

In mid December we accepted an offer on our property in Linden (sold using the excellent Leadhome agent Riegardt Momberg). Our registration date was forecast to be the end of March, so we figured we’d just bite the bullet and have a crazy March: having a new baby and moving – two major life events – all in the same month. However, as fate has it, things didn’t turn out as planned. 

On the 12th of February our family welcomed our daughter Stella into the world. Born early at 36 weeks, she had to spend – what we thought would be only – some time in hospital to grow a little bit more and become accustomed to the world. Unfortunately, slow progress meant that her expected short stay became a 6 week stay, with all the worry, stress, and twice-daily shuffling between the hospital and home in a Covid fortified world. This had obvious implications for our move to Cape Town: we either had to move out of our house into a short term rental whilst our daughter was still in hospital, or we would need to renegotiate a new occupation date. We were incredibly lucky to have the services of Louis Kruger of Kruger Inc.– arguably the country’s best conveyancing attorney, and understanding buyers with a young son of their own who were willing to put their disappointment of a later occupation date aside to allow us the time to look after our daughter. In the end, we were able to agree on a new occupation date at the end of April. 

We brought Stella home at the end of March, and were able to enjoy our time with her whilst packing and getting ready for the move at the end of April. And here I am, writing this from the beautiful city of Cape Town, and grateful that things managed to work out. During the process however there were more than a couple of things that I learned, but I’d like to share the top five with you. 

Life is unpredictable… 

We didn’t expect things to turn out the way they did – like most parents we were positive that Stella would be born closer to the due date and come home immediately. Life threw a curveball, and we had to move quickly. What’s that quote? “Even the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, and boy did we learn it first hand.

… so get professionals on your side

We wouldn’t have been able to sell our house, negotiate new occupation terms, look after our family, and get through this time without the help of professionals: whether our agent Riegardt who we knew we could call on any time of day or night, our attorney Louis who took care of everything legal, or the incredible teachers who looked after our son at Roosevelt Park Pre-Primary School. Point is: when you’re in trouble and don’t know what to do, talk to people who deal with these things every day of their lives. 

Occupation date is of cardinal importance

With Covid-19 the various deeds offices are facing an enormous backlog of matters, so your property’s registration date is a lottery. The one thing in your control is agreeing on the occupation date up front with a commensurate occupational rental sum with the buyer of your property. Whilst not ideal to potentially have the buyers living in your property before it is actually theirs, in the world of Covid this brings some form of certainty to the table. 

Build relationships

We were lucky enough to build a really nice relationship with our buyers – that’s what Leadhome’s model of putting the buyer and seller directly in touch with each other does. So we were in a place where we respected each others’ privacy, but could ask each other favours (for instance, we stored the buyers’ pot plants and couch at our home for a month before they moved in). If we didn’t have a good relationship with our buyers then I don’t know whether they would have agreed to a later occupation date; after all, there was nothing in it for them. Point is: the people who buy the house you’ve loved for many years are special, and it’s important to show your humanity.

There’s so much more for Leadhome to do

A big learning for me personally. Yes – Leadhome’s service of selling property and helping both buyers and sellers navigate the numerous pitfalls is the core part of our service, but there are so many disparate, highly stressful parts of the process where we can give our clients an even better experience. Whether it is helping sellers with obtaining the necessary certificates of compliance, advising on good moving companies, or helping with sourcing boxes and tape – all of these things are areas where we can up our game. So keep your eyes peeled for additional services we will be exploring over the next 6 months. 

All the best for your month ahead – and please don’t hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can assist you or your family with in the property buying and selling process!

Marcel du Toit

Marcél du Toit is CEO of Leadhome. He is interested in the intersection where technology, customer service, and the real world meet, with a specific focus on proptech. Outside of Leadhome he's passionate about his two rescue dogs, sport, and all things South Africa. Marcél holds a masters degree in Management & Finance from the University of Oxford.

M.Sc. Management & Finance (University of Oxford) B.A. PPE & Accounting (University of Stellenbosch) Paul Roos Gymnasium (Stellenbosch)

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