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Are you ready to buy a home?

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In Buying a resale flat? 10 questions you must ask and What to look for when buying a home, we told you what to look for in a housing society and when buying a home.

Here, we suggest three questions you must answer before you start house hunting. Not only will it give you a clearer picture, it will also help your broker shortlist the right places for you.

How much can you afford?

Visit a few home finance companies and see how much of a loan you are entitled to. If you are married, club your spouse’s income and your own to avail of a higher amount.

Remember, a home loan company will not fund the entire amount; they will loan you about 90% of the cost of the home. You need to be able to put up the balance amount.

Running short of money? See if you can sell any shares or investments to help you get that amount. Maybe, a bonus is coming your way. If not, see if your siblings or parents are willing to help you out.

How would you like your space?

It makes sense to have both the number of rooms and the area in mind.

People often say they want a two-bedroom apartment but don’t mention the space. You could get one for 800 sq ft or even 1,200 sq ft.

It will all depend on the size of the rooms.

I know someone who was wanted a three-bedroom apartment even though the area was 950 sq ft. Though she could have got a comfortable and spacious two-bedroom apartment within this area, she wanted three bedrooms though the rooms would be smaller. Since her father-in-law stayed with them, she wanted him to have his own private room while she and her spouse had their own space. So did their child.

On the other hand, there are those who don’t need to accommodate any family members, so this issue may not crop up. In such cases, the number of rooms may not be an issue, but spacious lodgings could be is a priority.

What you won’t compromise on

This is what you need to look at first.

A friend of mine told me once he would never reside in any apartment below the second floor because you just cannot get any privacy. Some don’t want an apartment just under the terrace.

My aunt could never do without a balcony. For her, at least one the rooms had to have a balcony.

Another friend felt lots of ventilation is a must. As was bright sunlight.

Pick up an aspect you MUST have in your home.

What you will compromise on

There are extremely slim chances that you will get the house of your dreams in the locality of your choice.

You may end up with a lovely, spacious apartment in a suburb you do not like or cannot afford.

Or, you may find the rooms a little too small in the suburb you do like and can afford.

On the other hand, you may get a great house in a great locality. But it would entail a long travel to work. Are you up to it?

Or, you may get a lovely house with great ventilation and lots of balconies on the second floor (when you want to reside only on the third floor upwards).

Of course, you will not be able to really answer this question unless you see the house. However, it is only when you are clear on what you are getting that you will be in a better position to decide what to let go of.

Buying a flat? 10 questions you must ask

Buying a resale apartment? This means you are not buying an apartment in a building under construction, or a ready flat, directly from the builder. You are, instead, buying a flat from another apartment owner.

Before you buy an apartment in a co-operative housing society, here are a few questions you must ask.

1. Is there a transfer fee?

Many societies charge a fee from the person selling his/ her apartment or from the person buying the apartment. Some societies charge this fee from both individuals.

You need to find out if there is a transfer fee being levied on you, the buyer. If so, you need to know the amount.

2. What is the maintenance charge?

Societies levy maintenance charges on its members. These could be either monthly, quarterly or semi-annual payments.

The charges are based on the area of your home.

Find out how much it amounts to and when it has to be paid.

3. What’s included in the maintenance charge?

The maintenance will generally cover the municipal tax, property tax, assessment tax, water charges, common electricity charges, elevator charges and charges for hired help like the garbage cleaner and security.

It will be steeper if your society offers additional facilites like a garden, play area for children, swimming pool, gym, club house, etc.

Check in detail what is and what is not included in the charge. For instance, car parking charges will not be included in the maintenance fee.

All members will also have to contribute to a ‘sinking fund’; this fund is used to finance all heavy repairs in the building and in its premises. The amount varies with each society.

4. Are pets allowed?

Even if you don’t have one now, you may think of having one in the future. Check if pets are permitted. If they are, does the society charge a fee?

5. Is car parking provided?

Some societies do not have car parking. Those that do charge for it. Find out how much this is. This will be separately billed to you when you get your society maintenance bill.

Check with the seller of the apartment if his/ her parking slot will be made available to you.

If your previous owner did not have a vehicle, speak to the secretary of the society and ask if a slot can be made available to you.

6. What sort of security is provided?

Is day and night security provided? You may specially consider it if you and your spouse work and leave your little child at home with a maid. Or if you have elderly parents staying with you.

You can also check if they have the intercom system, or if they check before letting someone up to your apartment.

7. Is there a water problem?

Does the society have a tank to store water? Is water supply available all 24 hours?

8. Can you park your child’s bicycle?

Will the society allow you to park it in the corridor? If not, then in the compound? Will they charge you for it?

9. What is the connectivity?

Does the building have a cable connection? What about broadband? There exists more than that meets the naked eye.

Will the seller be leaving the telephone connection behind?

10. Are all the bills settled?

Ask for proof from the seller that all electricity bills and telephone bills have been cleared. From the Date of Possession (when you obtain ownership of the apartment), all the bills become your responsibility.

Also check with the secretary if all other society dues have been settled.

Once you move in, inform the local electricity board of the change in name of the occupant. Find out if there is an electric meter deposit and how much it is. And, if the telephone has been left behind, get it transferred to your name. Also, get in touch with the cable operator for broadband and television. If the society has a gas pipeline, you need to get it transferred in your name.

Buying a home? What to look for

Buying a house is an emotional decision. But it needs to be a practical decision too. And, need I say, it is time consuming one as well.

Here, we give you tips on what to look at when scouting around for a house.

Scrutinise the apartment

Visualise yourself in the apartment. Do you see yourself making a home here?

Do you like the layout of the rooms? Are you happy with the long corridors or passages? Where will you dry your clothes? Does it bother you that there are no balconies? Or that all the balconies are enclosed? Is there a lot of wastage of space? Would you be able to renovate the apartment according to your taste? Do you find the rooms too small?

Look at the wiring and the switch board. Do they need to be changed? Will you have to make many more plug points?

Does the house desperately need a new coat of paint? Is the plaster peeling? Do you spot any leakages? What about the tiling?

What about the plumbing? Do the pipes look totally rusted? How many outlets (taps) are there for water? How many bathrooms and toilets? Do they need to be totally redone?

The greater the amount of renovation, the more you can bargain for a lower sale rate. So get a proper estimate of what your renovation will cost before you start negotiating on the sale price.

A word of caution here. If your renovation includes touching any of the load-bearing pillars, you will have to obtain municipal permission.

If you don’t, the managing committee of the society can object to the changes; in some cases, some societies have even ordered that the work be stopped.

After all, changes in the civil structure can affect the building and may also create cracks and leakages.

If you want to enclose a balcony or do some plumbing work, it is sufficient enough to get the society’s permission (in such cases, you do not need municipal permission).

Other work like replastering or a simple paint job do not require permission.

Take a good look at the building

Giving the building a low-down.

Does it look shabby? Does it look like it will collapse any time? Are there cracks in the pillars or beams? When was the last time it was repaired and painted?

If the society has not made any changes recently, they may do so in the near future and you may be asked to contribute to it. They do this by asking flat owners to make staggered (spread over a few months) or lumpsum payments for major repairs or paint jobs.

Is the staircase clean? Do they have an elevator?

The locality matters

If your building does not have ample ground for children to play, see if there is a park nearby.

A friend of mine lives with an ailing mother and so ensured that the place she looked for was not too far from a hospital or nursing home. Another friend said that school proximity was more of an issue.

Is there a market in the vicinity? Are there a few grocery stores around?

Is it very close to the main road? Is the noise a problem?

How accessible is the home to public transport? Is the nearest bus stop or train station miles away? Are taxis or auto rickshaws easily available? It may be a quiet and serene location but will it be a tedious effort getting to work? Of course, if you have your own transport, it will not be an issue.

Is it under construction?

If the building is under construction, it is a good time to renovate your apartment and make changes. Maybe you want a door to your room opening in another direction. Or, you want to merge two rooms? Maybe you want numerous plug points across the house.

Check on the builder too. Is he reliable? Does he complete his work on time? Home loan companies have pre-approved properties which they finance. If a builder features on this list, it generally indicates a good track record. However, this is no guarantee that the property will be constructed on time.

The last word

Make at least two trips to the place before you decide to buy it. Don’t just decide on the first visit.

Finally, always visit the apartment during the day. You must see the house in natural sunlight. Also, if buying an apartment already constructed and occupied (resale), you will be able to see the state of the apartment and building more clearly.

Written by Bhushan Kulkarni

January 24, 2007 at 11:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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