House hunting can be incredibly exciting, but it can also be rather daunting. If you’ve got a vision of perfection, or you have strict criteria, it can be difficult to find the right home. If you’re embarking on a property search, here are some key considerations to bear in mind.
Setting a budget
The most important step to take before you start browsing property websites or contacting agents is setting a budget. Work out how much you can afford to borrow and spend. Take a look at your savings balances, get an idea of how much money you can use for a downpayment and figure out a maximum monthly mortgage repayment. It’s important not to stretch yourself too much, and if you set filters on your searches or give a real estate agent a cap to work with, this will prevent you from falling head over heels for a home you can’t afford. If you’re on a tight budget, look for ways to make buying more affordable, including looking at properties like an HDB resale flat for sale or choosing up and coming areas instead of established real estate hot spots. It’s also worth considering taking on a project if you’re willing to do some work and the cost of renovations are within budget. This is often significantly cheaper than buying a similar size property in the same location that is in pristine condition.
Choosing a location
Many people start their new home search with the ‘location, location, location’ mantra in mind. For some, location is the number one priority, but for others, there’s a lot more flexibility. If you don’t mind expanding your search to include a few more streets in the neighborhood or different suburbs within the same town or city, you could increase the range of properties considerably. If you can’t find the perfect home in your chosen area, it’s worth waiting or considering other areas. Take a drive out to explore different locations, do some research on the area and try and be open-minded. In some cases, even increasing your boundaries by a mile can allow you to get a lot more for your money.
Lifestyle and individual needs
Every home buyer is unique, and one property will suit one individual better than another. When you’re creating a short-list or looking around homes, think about how you plan to use the rooms and whether the layout and the amount of space will work on a practical level. If you love a property, but it doesn’t work at the moment, there may be ways to modify and adapt it, but you’ll need to factor in the cost of renovations. If living space is limited or you need another bedroom, for example, you could think about adding an extension or converting a basement or an attic. Get some quotes, compare prices and run through ideas before you make any final decisions. It’s worth noting that renovation work tends to add value, so it could make financial sense if you plan to stay in the property for a long time or you’re hoping to sell at a profit in the short-term.
There is a vast range of properties on the market, and they come in all different shapes and sizes, some old and some new. The condition of a house or flat will affect its value and it could impact saleability. Some people will be put off by the prospect of doing a lot of work, while others will embrace the chance to add value and put their stamp on a blank canvas. If you are prepared to take on a property that isn’t in the best condition, make sure you invest in a thorough survey and look out for red-flag signs that could contribute to costly repairs, for example, a damaged roof, rising damp, sloping floors and subsidence. Get some quotes for any work you plan to do before you make an offer and negotiate on the price. You may be able to get a good deal, especially if the house has been on the market for a long time.
House hunting can be really enjoyable, but it can also be stressful, especially if you’re not sure how much you can afford to spend or what kind of property you’re looking for. Before you start calling agents and booking viewings, figure out your finances, consider locations, think about your individual needs and draw up a wish-list. If you are interested in the idea of polishing a rough diamond, get some quotes, work out the total spend and make sure the project fits in with your budget.
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