Buying your first home is not something that you can ever take lightly. From the get-go, there’s a lot of excitement in store for you—right from browsing house images on Pinterest to actually touring prospective properties, signing on the dotted line and picking out paint colours and flooring finishes! As a first-time home buyer, there’s plenty to look forward to—but also many things that you could, possibly, be apprehensive about.
To help you through the process, we’ve put together the ultimate checklist for the first-time home buyer. We tell you what to look for, what to avoid, and everything you have to do between starting to look, to actually moving into your brand-new home. Let’s get started!
Narrow Down Your Location
Buying a house is very different from renting one. You’ll have to figure out where you want to put down roots, and that could be a life-transforming decision. For most people, the choice of location is determined by their workplace or the children’s schools, but if you work online or run your own business then it’s up to you to make that call. If you don’t plan to live in the house yourself but are buying it as an investment, then again the location could be anywhere at all.
Villa or Apartment?
Next, you have to choose whether you will buy a villa or an apartment. First-time home buyers might not have a lot of money, unless they were born with a silver spoon or were recently bequeathed a legacy! Apartments are typically more affordable than villas, but you should also look at your preferences and see if you could get a villa that’s within your budget.
Everything is online these days, including real estate. Without leaving the comfort of your home office, you can begin your search for the perfect house online. Check out popular portals and filter your search according to your location, requirements and budget. Many websites even allow you to tour the property online and check out the amenities before you narrow down your options.
Do Your Research
Once you have shortlisted a few options, read up to find out more about the reputation of the builder or real estate agent. Do they keep up their commitments and deliver on time? Will there be hidden costs or unfulfilled promises? Most importantly, is your builder keeping within legal mandates and compliances? Try to reach out to others who have bought into the property, and find out what sort of an experience they had.
Make a Site Visit
Set up an appointment to visit the property at a date and time that’s convenient for you. When you visit, check out the neighbourhood and find out if it meets your ideals. How close is the location to your children’s schools and your workplace? Are there parks and shops nearby, and what is the distance to the nearest hospital? What are the neighbours like?
Check Out the Building Plans
Take a closer look at the building plans and layout. Are the number of rooms and their locations suited to your needs? If you believe in Vastu, are the positions of important rooms compliant with its mandates? Is there enough light and ventilation? What are the finishes being offered, and is there any scope to redo either the plan or the finishes to match your requirements? Make sure that all the must-haves on your list are taken care of.
Check the Quality of Construction
It might be a good idea to take along someone who is knowledgeable about construction standards. If the building is still under construction, look into another building by the same builder and see how well it stands up to the passage of time.
Check the quality of utilities, most importantly the plumbing and electricity. Look at the finishes of walls, paint and floors. How well have they maintained the amenities and surroundings? When it comes to putting down an investment on a house, everything is important!
Look into the Amenities
Next, check out whether the amenities provided will suit your lifestyle. Take a good look at the swimming pool, gym and open spaces. If you’re an avid walker, is there a safe walking path near or within the property? Think of the needs of your children and your spouse. Is there a park within the complex where your little ones can play safely without much supervision?
Also find out the ratio of built land to open spaces, and whether all the amenities are well maintained. Is there dependable generator backup in case of electrical outages? Are all the fire safety regulations in place? Make a checklist and tick off all the boxes if you’re satisfied.
Budgeting and Finance
You would, by now, already have a good idea about the costs of the homes you have shortlisted. Keep in mind that you should not overreach yourself and sign up for something you can ill afford, particularly if you are taking a sizeable loan. Your home should be a joy and never a burden!
Take the advice of a financial consultant, and see how much of down payment you can afford. Look for financing plans that have the least rates of interest, and are flexible enough to allow you to reduce your monthly payments if you can repay ahead of time.
If you default on any EMIs, the penalty will be steep, so maintain a fund for contingencies that will allow you to pay at least 4 instalments even if you have a financial crunch. Also, when you are shopping around for a loan, weigh the pros and cons of a longer loan tenure against higher pay-outs. Never sign up for an EMI that exceeds, say, 40% of your monthly income. Repaying a loan should never be stressful.
Unless you are yourself a qualified expert, you should always look for legal advice from someone who knows about real estate sales. At the very least, you should ensure that these documents are in order:
- Sale deed (Also called Title deed or Mother deed)
- Encumbrance Certificate for sale of previously owned properties
- Power of Attorney if the sale is through someone other than the owner
- Allotment letter from the builder
- Building plan and layout plan sanctioned by the statutory authority
- NOC (No Objection Certificates) from the local Fire Department /Pollution Control Board/Water Works/ Electricity Department/Airport Authority as required
- Approved plan of construction and construction license
- Cost estimates and valuation reports
- Details of payment plans and stages
Getting the Interiors Done
And then comes the final stage of making the down payment and collecting the keys. Congratulations on a job well done!
Once your dream home is yours, you’ll have to start doing up the interiors. This is the easy part, because all you have to do is come down to the nearest HomeLane Experience Centre!
With the HomeLane team on board to help you with the nitty-gritty of home décor, you’re assured of beautiful home interior solutions with a 45-day start-to-finish delivery promise. Get the advantages of affordable pricing, on-time deliveries and assured safety, only with HomeLane.