The first-time homebuyer checklist

The first-time homebuyer checklist

By Gitonga Muriithi 

If you are planning to buy your first home, you are probably going through a range of emotions: excitement, happiness, hesitation and maybe just a little fear. You want to do it correctly the first-time round, right? Here’s a handy checklist to help you do just that.

1. Pick a location

Location is usually the foremost consideration when deciding where to buy your home because so many other things depend on it. Factors like price, infrastructure, proximity to amenities and social services and even value of land and appreciation rates are determined by location.

As such, it is not a decision that you should make lightly. Are you interested in developed areas which have attractive features? If so, you may have to cough up more money for a unit there than for one in an upcoming locale but this has implications also. Figure out what is important to you and then choose where your house will be.

2. Pick a developer

You might be wondering why this wasn’t the first item on the checklist. Honestly, you could start by picking a developer and then location, but if you do, you will limit your options. Not all developers have projects in all the areas you are interested in.

To avoid this, choose the location first or find a firm that gives you a wide variety. As always, do your homework before settling on a developer. Pick one who is trustworthy and has a proven track record. Above all, verify any information you get from them independently.

If you are buying off-plan, ensure you trust the developer to complete the project within the stated timelines and you can gain this from conducting due diligence.

3. Identify your must-have features

You have a broad idea of what you want here, for example, the size, layout and number of bedrooms. However, there is so much more to consider here. Does the development have any special features like playgrounds, elevators, SQs or assigned parking slots?

Do these come with the unit or must you pay extra? Is it fully or semi furnished, or do you just get an empty house? Do you have a say in interiors and finishing?

The features could be what differentiates one development from another, so make sure you are getting value for your money.

4. Agree on a payment plan

If you are pleased with the features (and the completion date, if buying off-plan), the next step is to agree on the terms of payment.

Usually, there are a variety of options for different financial situations and as a buyer, you are spoilt for choice. The most common ones are cash, instalments, loans and mortgages.

Work with your developer to create a payment plan that you both like. Before you sign anything, make sure you understand and are willing to live with the consequences of defaulting on a payment.

5. Review the sales agreement

Having agreed on a plan, the developer will probably give you a document that outlines the terms under which the house will be sold to you.

Before signing it, however, look through it carefully. Better yet, run it through your legal representative and have them confirm that everything is in order. Make sure you understand all the terms that govern your use of the house.

For instance, are there any provisions barring reselling or are you at liberty to do so? Can you lease or rent? If it is a multi-unit development, are you getting the unit you reserved or a different one? Whose name is on the property; yours or the developer’s? When will it be handed over? What happens if you are unable to make all your payments? These are all pertinent issues you must understand before you sign anything.

6. Get your finances in order

Now that you and your developer have a contract in effect, it’s a good idea to make sure all your ducks are in a row.

You do not want to be the person who signed a sales agreement and remitted all the initial fees and then failed to keep up with your instalments. If you were going to pay cash, do you need to liquidate some assets?

Has your loan or mortgage been approved? Does your financial institution know where and how often to make payments? Ensure that this is all taken care of early enough.

7. Occupy

Having paid for it, the house is now yours to do with as you will. Move in and enjoy your living in it, or, if you were buying to rent out, begin lining up your tenants.

You could find them through word of mouth, your social media or listings in property websites. Were you planning to lease? Furnish it and sign up to be a host on Airbnb or one of the hundreds of other leasing services. Whatever it is, make sure to get the most out of your new home.

With this handy checklist, you are assured that your home buying journey will run smoothly from start to finish.

The writer is Head of Sales and Marketing at Centum Real Estate

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