Everyone has a dream home, whether it’s a quaint bungalow on a tree-lined street or a top-floor apartment nestled within a friendly community. But the first step — the intimidating process of buying a house — often stops would-be homeowners in their tracks. Investing in property is challenging enough for veteran homebuyers, and for a first-time buyer it can be positively overwhelming — especially when the real estate market always seems to be offering everything you’re looking for at a price that is just beyond your budget. And to top it off, industry terms like mortgage and property tax can be confusing to anyone who isn’t familiar with the property investment business. So let’s try and simplify the process of buying a house before we talk about turning it into a home.
A little research goes a long way
Researching the history of the property before you house hunt lets you be certain you’re getting the best possible deal. When you are armed with this knowledge, you can avoid nasty surprises in the form of legal disputes or any other factors that can lead to potential issues — including eviction and restrictions on living. Here are two things to keep in the back of your mind during your hunt for information:
Equity: When you first buy a house your equity is the same as your down payment, which sounds like a good bargain. But keep an eye out for any factors that can cause the value of the property rise or fall — the smallest detail can make or break your perfect deal.
Titles: Getting your paperwork in order is half the battle won. Becoming the legal owner of the property will save you a lot of last-minute hassle if you need to show proof of residency for any official purposes.
Money is usually the number one obstacle in any house-hunting endeavour. Many first-time homeowners simply do not have the funds to buy a house — so the dream remains out of reach. Luckily, there are other options. Most banks offer housing loan packages, so speaking with an expert about your options can give you a little breathing room when beginning your search. Having a realistic idea of how much you can spend can be of great help in narrowing down potential properties.
Once you have the funds, you need to understand where to spend them so that you can close in on your dream home without a hitch. Costs towards inspections, official processes and brokerage agents all tend to trip up first-time property investors. Research these costs thoroughly and account for them in your budget. And watch out for sleeper costs — the money that is spent on repair, maintenance and potential increases in property tax. While buying a fixer-upper may seem like a good deal, it will definitely cost you more in the long run due to these hidden costs.
Location, location, location
Convenience plays a large role in narrowing down your ultimate location. In a perfect world, you would be within walking distance of — or at least a short drive away from — the nearest hospital, grocery store, and mall; not to mention your workplace or your children’s school. However, this is rarely the case. So choose two or three must-have aspects of your ideal neighbourhood and concentrate your search on areas that provide for them.
Under the weather
Distance is not the only factor that determines a house’s suitability — the location’s environment plays a part too. Ask around and find out how the climate affects the area. Will winds blow roadside pollution through open windows, or will humid weather warp your new wooden floors? These elements will affect your living experience, so take them into consideration each time you look into a property. Even something as simple as familiarity with the local weather patterns can tell you whether the property is worth the investment or if it will cost you more in maintenance.
The trick with buying a house comes down to being confident in your investment. Chalk out the essentials and understand how many of them are being addressed by the house you have in mind. Each house has its own USP and, as a first-time property owner in India, you need to weigh all the pros and cons carefully. So always consider any and all options — they really help you scope out the market and find the perfect fit. Once you are happy with your pick, go ahead and make a home!
This blog is part one of From House to Home. Keep an eye out for part two, coming your way soon!