This post was written by Ikhram Merican.
Ikhram Merican is a real estate agent and property enthusiast with a passion for marketing and writing. An avid observer of the Malaysian Property Market, he writes about it at his blog, www.livingspace.com.my/blog. He can be contacted at [email protected].
Are you in the market looking for a home? Is your agent pushing you to come to a decision fast and unable to satisfy all your questions? Whilst this may not happen very often, it is not uncommon for home buyers to be coerced into making hasty decisions.
It is also far from uncommon for home buyers to make uninformed decisions. Here are 5 things to remember when you go shopping for a home.
1. Know that it is perfectly fine to take your time
To be fair to real estate agents and sellers, it is best if you have done some basic research before hunting for a home. For example, you should know what your budget is and what your priorities are. Your budget should tally with your ability to pay your loan. Your priorities will be determined by your preferences.
For example, do you want a home that is close to your work place? Or are you more concerned with the proximity of good kindergartens and schools? Or do you wish to stay close to your parents?
Once you know your budget and priorities, go shopping… and take your time. You are not buying a shoe. A home purchase is a huge long-term investment. This is something that can be very difficult to undo once the purchase is made. Therefore ensure that you have all your questions answered. If you are renting, read the tenancy agreement and ensure that it is fair to all parties. Do not let anyone unnecessarily hurry you.
2. Get to know the location and the developer
The intrinsic value of a property is generally determined by its location and surrounding infrastructure. It is therefore imperative that you intimately know the location where you may be staying. In addition to this, the location and surrounding infrastructure should match your priorities. If you want your children going to a nearby school, find out if there are schools in the neighborhood. Establish that these schools match your expectations.
Is public transport important to you? If it is, you should inquire with your real estate agent or the developer. Find out the current and future public transportation infrastructure plans.
Developers are the single most important determining factor for the quality of a home. Find out as much as you can about the developer of a property you are interested in. What is the developer’s reputation like? Does the developer have a strong track record? Industry recognition? Google the developer and see what others are saying.
3. Get a good, reliable lawyer
Too often we’ve seen purchases get unnecessarily delayed because of incompetent lawyers. We’ve seen very frustrated buyers who are unable to finalize their purchase because their lawyers have not executed the sales and purchase agreement after months. Most people blindly choose lawyers. Some banks may ask you to use a lawyer in their panel. Be very careful. An incompetent lawyer can cost you a lot of wasted time, emotional pain, and loss of money.
Make sure any lawyer you decide to use comes highly recommended. If your bank wants you to use a lawyer from their panel, check on the reputations of the lawyers. If you are unable to ascertain the reputation of any of the lawyers on the panel, go with someone who is highly recommended from a trusted source.
4. Get a good and reputable real estate agent
Having a good agent on your side is akin to having a bodyguard in a tough neighborhood. A competent real estate agent can save you a lot of time and money. There are many good agents in the market. Unfortunately, there are also the unscrupulous types concerned only with short-term gains.
Your agent should be willing to help you mediate an equitable outcome. She should be able to advice you on market prices and be honest enough to admit if a home is over-priced. She should not be driven solely by self-interest.
A good agent will assist you throughout your purchase by:
• showing you a good inventory of properties that closely match your requirements,
• giving you plenty of information to help you make an informed decision,
• helping you get a valuation opinion,
• leveraging her relationships with banks to help you with loans, and
• providing you with 3rd party service providers to help you with relocation.
5. Do your own research
At the end of the day, you are your best friend. Do your own research. Understand the area that you wish to relocate to. The Internet is a great source for looking up area reviews or property reviews. There are plenty of property portals, blogs, and forums online that provide excellent information for home buyers. Speak to family and friends. Be thoroughly prepared and have a list of questions to ask your agent or the developer.
When you speak to your agent or developer, you should be validating their responses with your findings. Probe discrepancies. Information is power and you are empowered when you have all the facts.
Source: The Expat Property Guide 2015
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