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House hunting mistakes you must avoid
Arati Patankar |
May 27, 2005
uying a home is difficult. Period.
But the problem is compounded when four individuals have a stake in it and each brings to the table his own specifications.
This has been my experience. And, if you are a family looking for a new home, or a couple with very divergent tastes, then you will hopefully gain from what I have to say.
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Decide why you are moving
I lived with my family in Central Mumbai in a rather small house of 400 sq ft. As my brother and I began to grow up, my parents decided to move to a bigger place.
If we stayed in the same locality, my father would have had to take a loan and sell the current house to get a new one that would not be much bigger.
To get a more spacious apartment without taking a loan, we would have to move way into the suburbs where real estate was much cheaper.
So, the only reason we were shifting residence was because we wanted a more spacious apartment.
Though we got it right this far, the next steps would not prove as simple.
Mistake 1: Not prioritising preferences
My father asked all of us what we wanted in the new house and together we listed out preferences. Much to our delight, there were just four.
- It had to be more spacious than our current home.
- It had to be as close to our workplaces as possible.
- The construction should not be in a ramshackle condition and it must possess all modern amenities.
- It should fit our budget, which was decided upon by my father.
However, we only realised the complications when we actually began to look at houses.
My father was hell bent on getting the entire deal within the fixed amount and he would not compromise on it.
My mother said that if she was shifting residence and being uprooted from her familiar neighbourhood, she was not going to compromise on the area. It just had to be more spacious. And, yes, it had to be close to the market.
My brother was not fussy since he spent most of his time at work. He just wanted it to be near his workplace.
I preferred a complex that had a club house.
We could not have a preferential order because no one felt like compromising or getting second or third preference.
Mistake 2: Not opting for a broker
We decided not to get in touch with a broker and began to hunt for a place on our own.
We got in touch with friends, family and colleagues and asked them if they knew of any homes on sale.
We pored over the newspaper classifieds daily and kept an eye out for advertisements.
We visited builders to see if any places were for sale in newly constructed buildings.
Sure, you end up giving the broker a huge cut but you must remember the choices they present you with are numerous. They fix with appointments with sellers so you can visit their apartments.
With all of us either working or studying, it was terrible trying to find time to scout for a house.
We ultimately located our house via a property exhibition.
We finally did it.
We ended up taking a one bedroom flat in the distant suburbs of Mumbai.
My father was thrilled. His preference was to get a bigger home within the budget -- he got it.
Since our house was located on the Western line (Mumbai is served by Western, Central and Harbour railway lines), my brother was happy with the direct train connection.
Much to my delight, it was a lovely complex with a clubhouse, swimming pool and gym. What more could I ask for?
Since there were no buildings in front of our home, the ventilation and sunlight was great. Mom was happy with her new one bedroom apartment.
We thought we had made the right decision. Then came the downside.
Mistake 3: Not taking travel into account
Central Mumbai was so conveniently located that travel was no problem. During rush hour (when most people left for the office), the crowd moved towards South Mumbai while we travelled in the opposite direction.
So the trains were never packed.
Moreover, we could always hop onto a bus to get where we wanted to.
Now that we live in the suburbs, we face the rush hour in the train and cannot take a bus (the distance is way too much and, then, there is the traffic in Mumbai to consider).
Travelling is nothing short of a nightmare with trains packed to capacity. Just entering one is an ordeal. Managing to stay squashed inside and not feel claustrophobic is another.
Since our home is not close to the station, we have to wait for a bus or rickshaw.
By the time we reach home, we are so exhausted that nobody thinks of visiting the clubhouse. And a workout at the gym? Forget it, we have one in the train daily.
Can't say that for a fact.
In fact, I am convinced we have made the wrong decision.
Here's some advice I can give to home buyers.
Don't just take your home and its surroundings into account. Take in every single other aspect, especially travel to work.
Since the entire family is either working or studying, it requires daily travel by all of us. For us, travel is now a huge burden.
If you are planning to buy a home in the distant suburbs, one day after work, travel to your potential home in public transport (or how you would normally travel).
See how long it takes. Check out how exhausted you feel. Ask yourself if you see yourself doing this daily.
Would you mind traveling far for a bigger house or a small house nearby will do?
After a hard day's work, do you want a home close to the station or bus stand where you will alight or do you want it away?
If away, have you taken into account the additional expense on traveling?
My advice is list down the preferences of the entire family and rate them in terms of importance. If we had placed the clubhouse at the lowest rung in the list of preferences, we might have got a place closer to the station.
Unfortunately, we did not prioritise because we wanted everyone to be happy. Now, no one really is.
Don't get carried away by impressive sample apartments. You may begin to regret the well presented one in the distant suburbs and long for the shabbier one closer to the city.
Do you, dear reader, have a house-hunting experience to share with us? Do you have tips to suggest? Please write to us. We would love to hear from you!