New home: The smartest considerations should inform your house-hunting journey. Here’s what they are.
So you’ve reached the level of financial health where you can now explore house hunting in earnest. You have enough saved for a downpayment. Plus, you know you have a steady source of income that will suffice for whatever mortgage deal you sign up for. And paying for a property won’t mean you’ll have to scrimp on your lifestyle for a decade or so either. You’ll afford to pay for a house while still enjoying the same stuff you used to enjoy sans a monthly mortgage. You have all the reasons to feel excited.
Yes, buying a property is a fun experience as it is. Just make sure you make the smartest considerations before signing above the dotted line. That way, you leave no room for regrets.
The bigger your saved funds for a downpayment, the shorter your mortgage period—and vice versa. So before you close a deal, make sure you’re comfortable with how much you want to pay upfront and how much you want to pay monthly for the next 10 years or so.
Ideally, you’re employed in a stable job market. It definitely won’t hurt if you have other sources of income, too. That will ensure you will not run out of funds to funnel into your mortgage plan. Also, keep in mind that your budget will affect other considerations you’ll make throughout your house-hunting journey, including the size of the property you choose and its location.
If you’re looking for a starter home for a family of three, you do not need something too big. A two-bedroom property will suffice. But if you want to zero in on a house that will accommodate your growing family for a long time, all the way to the eventual emptying of your nest, you’ll want to invest in a bigger and, understandably, more expensive listing.
Meanwhile, if you’re single, you can explore property options ranging from lofts to studio-type apartments. The key is to determine your required dimension and stick with it. Remember that even if your budget can only allow limited square meters, with a little creativity you can maximize your space.
This is most crucial to house hunters planning to start a family. It’s in your best interest to search for a property where excellent schools are accessible. If you’re religious, you will also want a place of worship nearby. Of course, shopping districts where you can buy your needs, as well as recreation centers where you can hang out during days off work, add to a location’s desirability.
On top of physical location, also be mindful of the neighborhood itself. Safety is of the utmost priority. If you can get details about the neighborhood’s crime rate from your real estate agent, that would be ideal.
Your options run the gamut. There’s colonial, modern, contemporary, and rustic, to name a few. However, if you have no say on the house’s theme, at least look into specific architectural details.
For example, consider the placement of windows. If you can, choose a house where you’ll have an adequate supply of natural light throughout the day. That way, you won’t need to turn on artificial light sources until it’s nighttime.
If you’re into cooking, search for properties with a bigger kitchen. You’ll be spending lots of time in it so it better be comfy and conducive to all the experimenting you’ll be doing.
Mind the fine print. As soon as your purchased property is surrendered to you, you’ll be paying the homeowner’s association fee monthly. That is even if you haven’t occupied the property.
You might also need to do some minor tweakings with your new home, which equate to additional costs. For example, if you install an additional bathroom, it will be out of your pocket unless stated otherwise in your contract. The best-case scenario is ending up with a property that already has everything you need.
Shopping ease and safety
We’re still amid a pandemic. While it should not delay your plans of owning a house, you should be extra careful while searching for a property. Work with an agent who does virtual house tours. Narrow down your favorites from the virtual tours you attend. Check those out in person. Follow safety protocols when visiting houses and meeting real estate stakeholders, from your agent to sellers.
When it comes to shopping for a house, the number one rule is to be realistic. For instance, just because you’ve read about luxury real estate trends does not mean you should hop on the hype. Sure, they’re interesting. And while you’re charmed by those trends, you cannot allow yourself to be swept into following them. That’s most true if those projects fall outside your financial capacity.
Focus on what you can have now. Have the recommendations above in mind while you search for a home. Doing so will steer you in the right direction, where your first dream home awaits.
Serene Yu is the Vice President of New Manila San Juan, the premiere real estate marketplace for luxury properties in the Philippines. Serene is a well-versed writer and marketer that enjoys keeping up with the latest trends in real estate, interior design, and technology. Outside work she enjoys traveling, cooking, and baking.