22 March, 2023
Unlock the doors to real estate success
Read time: 7 minutes
Home buying 501: Looking beyond the obvious


Source: Feiinspections

Home Sweet Home.

A phrase that we all love, but making it a reality can be an overwhelming process. I often say - you are not buying a house, you are buying a lifestyle!

This phrase speaks volumes about the importance of buying just the perfect home for you and your family. A lot of factors need to be considered before setting off on this mission. While you can run through every possible webpage on the internet to get an idea, people may overlook some crucial factors to consider.

In this edition of Open House, I will share my top 15 most important - but often overlooked factors to consider before buying a house. It may come as a surprise to you but even someone with experience in real estate, like myself, has made mistakes.

These tips or as I prefer to call them, the home-buying mantras, are from the viewpoint of an average home buyer. There is no bigger teacher than experience and having made errors in the past, I can now vouch for the potency of these mantras.

  1. Visit the neighbourhood you are planning to buy the house in at different times of the day. Don't be fooled by a fleeting glimpse of your dream neighbourhood! A single visit with your broker or agent might not show you the full picture. For a real taste of local life, explore the area at different times and days. Who knows what hidden gems or quirks you might discover?

    The brokers are smarter than they might seem and will choose the best time of the day (when the neighbourhood is in its best shape) to invite you for a visit. But, oftentimes, what we see is not what we get. It is best if you visit the area multiple times and judge for yourself whether you experience peace or eerie silence.

  2. You should look to hire a Home Inspector before you make a property purchase. The Home Inspector typically carry out checks regarding:
    • Plumbing
    • Mechanics
    • Water quality checks
    • Electrical
    • Overall build quality of the house

    A lot of times, the beast hides behind the beauty. External facades are beautified to con and post move-in you end up dealing with the recurring problems of your house breaking down regularly.

  3. Ensure that all legalities are air-tight. Besides conducting the default RERA (Real Estate Regulation and Development Act) check, one should check for:
    • Fire NOC
    • Environmental NOC
    • Height NOC
    • Pollution Control NOC

    These checks are not the ones you’ll see in advertisements but are crucial. Countless RERA-approved projects have come to a halt due to certain missing NOCs.

  4. A 1200 sqft house might be much more useful than a 1500 sqft house. The layout and usable floor area of a house determines how useful the overall space of a house is. When scouting a property look for its usable floor area and how the rooms are arranged. This reflects the practicality of the house in the long run.

  5. It is always wise not to purchase a house over 10 years old. A house this old requires heavy maintenance and renovation, enough to burn a hole in your pocket in the years to come. There is a high chance that the building might be facing issues related to dampness and cracks already.

  6. Energy-efficient homes are the future. If the recent COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is, how essential it is to have a well-lit and well-ventilated home. One should look for properties that get sunlight throughout the day and are not located in the middle of high-rise buildings.

  7. If there is one factor that can single-handedly impact the quality of your life, it is the nearby noise levels. In the long run, it will become one of the biggest issues for you with no peace whatsoever. People living in noisy neighbourhoods face issues including increased levels of stress, reduced concentration levels, and difficulty sleeping. In some incidents, prolonged exposure has also led to severe headaches and hearing loss. Also, who would want to live in their house and use noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs all day long?

  8. When searching for a family home, always look to settle in an area with great schools nearby. Traditionally, people prioritize the distance between their office and home, but it is much more important to weigh in the distance between your home and your child’s school. You would not want them spending 2 hours a day in mere transit.

    Long commutes make children stressed and drain their energy. At the same time, living in close proximity to the school increases the child’s engagement in community programs and in volunteering for events. The Americans have always looked for homes in great school districts, and this trend is now catching up in India as well.

  9. Do not buy a home in a low-lying zone or flood zone. While there are high chances that you may get this property at a great rate, it is a risk not worth taking. Every year there are properties in Chennai and other parts of the country that are flooded during the monsoon. Avoid such areas and choose a location that is at a higher elevation in the city.

  10. The outdoor living space is as important as the indoor living area, now more than ever. The recent times which saw us being locked inside our homes, made us realize the importance of outdoor areas. While purchasing a new property look for a:

    • Backyard
    • Cycling Park
    • Common Park
    • Patio or Deck

    If you have your kids or parents living with you, it is much more essential to look out for these facilities nearby.

  11. Look for the motivation of the seller for putting the house up for sale. This will not only help you in researching if the property has a drawback but also help negotiate a better price. At times when the sellers are in a hurry to cash the property, they agree to a lower-priced deal.

  12. Cost of Maintenance is a menace! In modern cities these days, oftentimes while the rate of a property might seem reasonable, the maintenance costs skyrocket. With the passage of time, a high maintenance cost turns into a heavy financial burden. Buying a property with high maintenance is pretty similar to purchasing an expensive car that has high recurring costs.

  13. Always consider the potential resale value of the house. While some of you might not look at your home as a disposable asset, it is wise to take into consideration the potential resale value of your property. Keep it as a contingency plan for dire or unforeseen situations.

  14. A golden rule in real estate is, never to buy the most expensive property in an area. It becomes nearly impossible to recoup the invested amount. Owing to its high price point, the property price is already highly saturated and there is no long-term Return on Investment. In numerous cases, people go on waiting for years before they can sell off their property. They fail to acquire a decent return on their investment and have to make do with the best bet available.

  15. Although technology is the way forward, a non-local / NRI must not purchase a property after a mere AR/VR site visit. These virtual sightings are often misleading and not good enough in analysing the true condition of the house. The mantra is to stay patient and let some local guardians visit the site before making a purchasing decision.

You can never be too careful when looking to make your life’s biggest asset investment. It is thus essential that you keep your ears and eyes open when stepping into this field.

It’s a wrap for this week’s edition of Open House, please share your feedback with me, and I will see you next week with some new insights into this budding industry!

Keep letting your light shine.

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By Ashwinder R. Singh
Step up your real estate game with exclusive access to tribal knowledge accumulated over decades.
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