Sharing one of my article published in the Times of India, property section

10 steps to locate that perfect home

Buying your home is one of the most important purchases you will make and possibly the biggest investment we make in our lifetime. This guide is to help your property buying experience anywhere in India and it is for use whether or not you are working with a real estate professional and designed to save you time, money, and stress.

ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to all purchases is your due diligence, your duty to yourself to thoroughly assess your investment to be. INSPECT AND VERIFY all possible aspects and representations of the property that you will be buying.

1. Examine your motivation to buy : Home buying requires a thorough analysis of your financial situation coupled with your list of needs and wants for a new home. Determine what are the main factors that you want to buy a new home. Is it the joy of owning an asset, moving from a rental home to a owned property, availing of a home loan to get those attractive tax breaks or as an source of revenue generation by renting it out. Honest answers to this introspection should be the first step for buying the new home.

2. Fixing your Budget : Clearly the most important homework to do before you actually venture out on the home hunt exercise. Ascertain the down payment you can make towards the purchase of your home and the quantum of money that will be financed by way of a home loan. Always work with a margin error of 5 – 6% to avoid getting sqeezed financially at the finale of the deal closing. Also work out the overheads like stamp dyty, registration, society charges etc which can variate between 7 – 12% of the basic cost. The best way would be to make a affordability analysis and get a realistic picture of your budget. This way there will be no room for nasty surprises during the home buying process.

3. Obtain Pre Sanction :
Typcially more than 90% of today’s home buying is done by availing of home loans and if your are one amongst them, it would make sense to get pre sanction. Few buyers understand the fact that it is possible to get a pre sanction of your home loan based on your income statements, without selecting the property. And it makes sense to have a sanction letter from your housing finance company when you are house hunting. If you come across the dream home you were looking for, you would save a lot of time closing the deal since you already have your finance in place.

4. Sort out your wants and needs : The home buying process can be fun but it requires you to pay attention to small details, ask lots of questions, take notes and stay updated with the realty market. You will clearly need to define your wants and needs and put it down on paper. One sure proven idea is to put on paper the following three things : (a) List of Must-Have Features ( the ones you feel you cant live without), (b) List Features You Would Like to have and (c) Features You Do NOT Want. This list will evolve as you go around looking for homes and remember buyers with unlimited budget also rarely find that “Dream Home”. So be realistic with you wish list and balance it with your financial abilities


5. Home Hunting :
Now that the basics are in place, you can actually began to look for your dream home. You can use any or all of these sources : builders / developers, friends, realtors, newspaper advertisements, real estate websites. Seek counsel from qualified real estate professionals; evaluate advice carefully. Take any opinion with a grain of salt; everyone has his or her own agenda. We all (people and professionals - ideally of the same species) make mistakes and can miss details; it is crucial that you ask all and any questions that you have no matter how small or stupid you may think the question may be. This step is very vital as you may miss out on that dream home if you are not working hard on the home hunt exercise.

6. The emotional exercise :
Home buying shall always be an emotional and subjective decision for all of us and all the advice and List of Top 10 Tips can never make it objective Trust your own opinions and feelings about the buying process, the property, and the people you are working with. Think of the long term, short term, big and little "picture." Talk with your family members, take your time, work with people around whom you're comfortable with. Remember you are in no race or competition to buy that home. You and your family members will spending a large part of their life staying in that new home, so why not involve everyone in the process and ensure that all of you would find the new home a better place to live.

7. Found that dream Home : Once you zero in on that dream home, began a due diligence process. Don’t let the emotions overcome your judgment ability. Ask your Realtor to give you a SWOT Analysis or Comparative Market Analysis for the home. Examine all documents very carefully before you start negotiating. Stay away from properties with unclear titles. Be prepared and Expect the unexpected. That way you wont encounter disappointment. Listen, listen, LISTEN.... Pay close attention to all of what you hear... Actually, pay close attention to all of your sensory input from property, people, papers and professionals.

8. Negotitation : Obviously a fine art, negotiation can ensure that you don’t pay a bomb for that dream home just because you have liked it. If you are working with a Realtor®, ask him for details of past sales data of similar properties sold. Arrive at a factual sale price before you actually sit to negotiate with the seller incase of resale homes. Most builder properties have today a fixed pricing and it makes sense for you to shop around for the prices to ensure that the builder is asking for the realistic market prices. At the same time be prepared to take risks. Stay on the ball; remember your goals. Be prepared to walk away from any transaction and move on to the next (and probably better) opportunity if things don’t work out the way you have anticipated.

9. Closing Time :
Now that you and the seller have got a fix on the price and the payment terms, put everything on paper. Do what you agree to do; act according to the terms of your contract. Similarly, pay very close attention to what people say and even closer attention to the written word; fortunately or unfortunately in India, spoken words do not hold water when it comes to real estate transactions. Its prudent to engage a property lawyer to safeguard your interest. Visualize failure (not getting the property you want or getting it and then finding out that it's just not going to work) for worst-case-scenario exploration, then create your success. Ensure that the payment terms and the other compliance of the contract are followed. Remember: you are only in control of yourself - or not - and there are many conditions and circumstances in the buying process completely out of your control; accept these and sleep better.

10. Celebrate your successes :
Its time to celebrate after that closing has been successful and you have got all the paperwork done and taken possession of the home. But don’t neglect the following :
(a) Purchase Home Insurance, even if it is not mandatary (b) Change all locks and keypads in the home to ensure no breach of security
(c) get an intensive pest control done
(d) splash the walls with your choicest shades so that you feel homely
(e) and lastly, invite all your close friends and family members for a get togther to celebrate. After all would’nt you like to show them around your new home.

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