Buying Your First Home

Buying a house is not quite like shopping for that new shirt or that gleaming new car or that Italian-made leather sofa. It entails a huge investment of time, money, planning and patience and sometimes, even a little bit of luck. A gospel guide most real estate agents adhere to is location, location and location. Nevertheless, there are other priorities that should be considered.

Can you afford a house?

Money matters should rate high on your priority list. A dream home that ends up a logistics nightmare makes not a home sweet home. Take time to chart the amount of cash available for expenses like initial down payment, legal fees, loan insurance, monthly installments and related costs. Compile a list of your assets including your income, savings, fix deposits and other investments.

Compare the figures from your assets against your liabilities to give yourself an estimate of how much you can spend on a new home. Liabilities include payments you are committed to pay monthly such as the car loan, life insurance premium, credit card expenses and others. Your credit ability determines whether you can afford a low-cost, medium-cost or a high-cost house.

Type of house

Basically, there are two categories, landed and non-landed property. Landed properties include single-storey or double-storey link houses, semi-detached and bungalows. While landed property is often more expensive than non-landed ones, the esthetic value usually justifies the little extras.

The younger generation may find non-landed property such as flats, condominiums and apartments appealing since property maintenance falls under the responsibility of the developer. Paying a monthly maintenance fee entitles you to enjoy facilities like a swimming pool, a gymnasium, tennis or squash courts and the like.

The House Itself

Purchasing a home involves examining the property top, bottom and inside out. For the interior, you might want to consider the size of the hall, the dining hall, the kitchen, the ceiling height. Is there an attic or not, wiring system, plumbing networks, etc.

Depending on the family size, the number of rooms and toilets are also important considerations. Buyers who prefer large tracts of land might opt for the corner lot while the design of front-porches and verandahs varies according to different builders.

Location

Know where the housing project is situated. Check out how reliable is the public transportation in the neighbourhood. Staying in a housing area which does not have a good transportation network can be a hassle if you don't own or drive a car.

What about schools and hospitals?

Are there any in the vicinity or the likelihood of any in the future? Is there a nearby shopping centre where you can spend your weekend or public amenities like banks, a post-office and restaurants at your convenience? Doing a little homework on the site about its past, present and future developments also makes for a wise buy, Know if the site is a flood-prone area. Ask what are its future housing projects in that particular area and how large are their land reserves.

What about the possibility of an expressway built in front of your home?

You can check the track record of a developer by visiting its past projects, talking to people living in that community or consult a local real estate agent for professional advice.To widen your house-hunting options. Attend project launches and open-houses organized by developers. Sign yourself in their mailing list for an update of future projects. Remember, owning a house is a long-term investment. So, plan your investment to enjoy a pleasant purchase.