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Buying a house? Here is an easy guide for you

REAL ESTATE
By Martin Dias | October 1st 2015

In my line of duty, I usually come across prospective home buyers who are not sure what they are looking for. I don’t blame them since the process of owning a home can be challenging.

No one really wants to look back and regret some of the decisions they made in the process of acquiring their dream home. So here are a few guidelines to help you go about a dream home the right way:

Do research with budget in mind

The first thing you need to do as a prospective buyer is to conduct proper research in your area of interest. Go through websites, newspapers and magazines that have real estate listings.

Note particular homes you are interested in and see how long they stay on the market. Also compare home prices in your target areas.

Drive around areas of interest. looking at what is coming up. This will give you a sense and a feel of what to look for.

Secondly, consider your budget. Often, home buyers want to purchase homes that are way beyond their financial capabilities. Do not strain yourself too much. Look for homes that fall within your budget limit or those you can afford if negotiated to some level.

Sellers prefer a buyer who has 30 to 40 per cent saved up as equity as opposed to one who takes a 90 to 100 per cent mortgage. Limit your mortgage borrowing to a minimum.

Location

Different neighbourhoods and communities have different characteristics. You will want to pick the one that closely fits your lifestyle and personality — a place where you will feel comfortable and where you are likely to get along with your neighbours.

You will also want to try to live close to the places you visit frequently, like markets, your job (if you plan to keep that job long-term), and, if you have kids, the schools you want them to attend.

Also ensure that the house you are about to buy is not constructed on grabbed, cemetery or riparian land or on a road reserve. Review the Ndung’u Report to see the property is not blacklisted. Your lawyer can do that for you.

 Get a good real estate agent

Real estate agents are important partners when you are buying a home. They can provide you with helpful information on homes and neighbourhoods that isn’t easily accessible to the public.

Their knowledge of the home-buying process, negotiating skills and familiarity with the area you want to live in can be extremely valuable.

And best of all, it doesn’t cost you to use an agent since they are always compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house. A word of caution: Please deal with registered estate agents who have been in the market for some time.

 Inspect property

Do a thorough inspection of the property, not once but several times, until you are satisfied. Look at the finishing: the tiles and the woodwork on the floor and skirting.

Check for leakages in the plumbing and the ceiling. Carefully observe any moisture coating, if any, especially on a new house which will mean there is water sipping into the concrete wall. Later, they may start forming bubbles and cracks.

Look for fresh coats of paint done very recently: Is it to give a fresh look or cover-up some quick fixes on leakages or cracks in the concrete wall.

Inspect the washrooms and the basins, bathtubs and toilet seats and the quality of ceramic used. Normally, when you buy a property, you have a time-frame of six months to report any leakages, paint work and small repairs.

It is called a scathing report of items that need fixing by the developer or property owner. This normally is permissible for not more than six months as the developer cannot keep fixing things on the property forever.

 Design of the house

As a home buyer, you have your tastes and preferences. Check whether the house matches your sense of style and class. Look at the interior design: whether the bedrooms are all en-suite or not, if there is a family room, spacious lounge, dining area, a modern open-plan kitchen (fully equipped) as is the norm nowadays. Find out if there is any space for a garden, common amenities like a swimming pool and a gym. The floor should also complement your desired visual designs, ranging from tiled kitchen and bathrooms to wooden floors in the living room and bedrooms.

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Feature: Homes First

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