Always make effort to review agreements before you sign.
By Chan Ai Cheng, StarProperty, Jan 25, 2010
For most of us, buying a house is usually the single largest investment we will ever make in life. So how often do we just plunge into it without adequate thought and preparation? The answer: Too often. To prevent such derring-do when buying that dream home, here are nine things to consider before you shop for property.
1) Get advisors
The saying “no man is an island” also rings true when it comes to buying property. It is advisable for homebuyers to enlist the help of the real estate agent, banker, lawyer and property inspector. However, before you settle on your team of advisors, make sure that they know their stuff.
Even if you have advisors, you should still do your own research. Do not blindly follow what they say as things could get ugly if you do not know what’s going on. In addition, it is also wise to get referrals and listen to the tips and advice of family and friends.
2) Looks can be deceiving
Don’t make your choice based on appearance alone. You may fall for the house at first sight, but please consider whether the house suits your family’s needs and most importantly, whether it is within budget. To avoid this mistake, make a list of what you want and check it against the potential property.
You should also give yourself time to get to know the neighbourhood. Visit the area at different times of the day and week to see how the environment is like. Check out the local schools (even if you don’t have children) to ensure that the home will get you a solid resale value.
3) Get pre-qualified/approved financing
This step helps you determine your budget. When you get pre-qualified, you’ll have a general idea of how much you can borrow. Once the banker or mortgage officer assesses your buying potential, he will be able to advise you on financing strategies, such as the possibility of joint borrowing or lengthening loan tenures.
Meanwhile, when you are pre-approved, your banker would have already agreed to provide you with a specific sum after verifying your information and credit rating. With such knowledge, you will be better equipped when you are shopping for property.
4) Over borrowing
To borrow more than you need is tempting, but you have to ask yourself whether you can afford to pay it back. It is simple: borrowing more = higher monthly installments – all this, even before considering the cost of improvements such as renovation and furnishings.
To avoid this mistake, analyse your monthly expenses: food, transportation, entertainment, car loan and other commitments. Then budget for the closing costs (typically 2% - 5% of the purchase price), moving costs as well as maintenance. Also, don’t forget that apart from mortgage payments, you’ll have to fork out money for insurance as well. The main idea here is to be able to continue with your lifestyle after making the investment.
5) Put it in writing
Protect yourself by putting your requirements and/or conditions in writing. Written agreements almost always trump verbal ones. It is not unusual for a condition to be missed, even after you’ve made a request to the seller or his agent. For example, if you ask for a toilet or a chipped tile to be repaired, don’t simply take the seller’s word for it. Put it in the purchase contract.
6) Read the fine print
Now that you have written agreements, make the effort to review them before you sign on the dotted line. Ask for the documents in advance so you will have time to read them and ask questions, if necessary. Real estate contracts are long and dense but you need to know what you are getting into. Look out for wrong assumptions and poorly-written or missing clauses, as any matter overlooked could lead to higher costs or a void contract.
7) Smart investing
Are you getting a fair offer on the house? To make sure you are not being fleeced, ask your real estate agent to check the selling prices that have been recently fetched by other similar homes in the neighbourhood. The listing should also show how long the house was on the market, its condition as well as size. Do remember that your house value is influenced by the other houses in the neighbourhood . The value of the most expensive house may be weighed down by its cheaper counterparts while a low-end house will benefit from the more posh properties.
8) House inspection
We don’t mean doing it yourself, but getting a professional for the job. A House Inspector knows what to look out for and will give you advice on the state of the house so that you are made aware of additional expenses, if any.
The House Inspector will inspect the home’s wiring, plumbing and general structure and come up with a report of what needs to be done. This report holds weight as a negotiating tool when asking the seller to make repairs. Make sure that any last-minute items arising from the inspection is in writing and completed before you take ownership of the property. If the seller agrees to make repairs, get your inspector to verify the work that was done.
If you're buying a house straight from the developer, they will offer you the Defect Liability Period upon Vacant Possession where they will rectify problems, if any, during the handover.
No location is perfect and no matter how many precautions you take before purchasing a home, there will always be one or two surprises. However, you should not let a few initial bumps ruin your house-buying experience.
Apart from that, don’t overlook a great investment while waiting for the perfect one. The general rule of thumb is to do your homework and when you come across something that really suits you, don’t let it get away.
Bukan mudah nak dapat kediaman yang sempurna "Home Sweet Home". Jenis-jenis rumah yang bersesuaian dengan citarasa macam bujang/pengantin baru memadai mengikut bajet iaitu flat/pangsapuri/kondominium dengan caj bulanan seperti penyelenggaraan/keselamatan/kolam renang/gym/rumah kelab dll.
Atau 'landed property' bagi yang memerlukan keluasan tanah untuk aktiviti/hobi ..rumah setingkat untuk yang berkeluarga dan mempunyai warga emas.. rumah 2 atau 2.5 atau 3 tingkat yang diperlukan untuk keluarga yang besar dan penjimatan ruang.
Mungkin boleh dapatkan 'feel' terlebih dahulu secara survei atau menumpang (jimat kos) atau menyewa kediaman pilihan. Saya telah merasai tinggal di pelbagai bentuk kediaman. Juga pentingnya untuk menikmati suasana tertentu. Kedamaian di pantai, lereng bukit atau dataran desa. Kedinginan di kawasan bukit tinggi dan bersuhu rendah. Atau privasi dengan rumah banglo di atas tanah lot. Atau 'happening' di kotaraya yang berdekatan dgn pusat membeli belah.
Bagi yang mempunyai anak kecil, mereka perlu pastikan taska/sekolah/kafa berhampiran atau akses pengangkutan awam yang mudah.
Hartanah sebagai kediaman adalah pelaburan kewangan terbesar dalam hidup anda..jadikanlah sebagai 'rumahku syurgaku' dan bukannya bebanan hutang pinjaman yang menghantui seumur hidup anda..