Before you start looking for a new home, sit down and take some time to think about exactly what it is you want in a new home:
• How much can you afford to spend?
• Where do you want to live?
• What type of home do you want?
• When do you want to move in?
The best way to know what you are looking for in a home is to write your preferences down as a ‘wish list’.
This list should detail all the qualities and facilities of your ideal home, including preferred location, price, type, style, and features.
To assist you in developing a ‘wish list’ you can print out our ‘wish list’ template and simply fill in your requirements.
Developing this ‘wish list’ will save you time when you start to look for your new home and will allow you to spend most of your time on only those homes that come close to meeting all of your requirements. It will also be of value in explaining to real estate agents exactly what you are looking for in a home.
How much can you afford to spend?
The first step when you start thinking about buying a new home is to sit down and work out how much you can afford to spend. Bear in mind that it is almost impossible for a foreigner to directly obtain mortgage financing in the US.
When calculating how much you have to spend on a new home, don’t forget to take into account all the ‘add-on’ cost associated with the purchase, such as:
• Government charges (stamp duty, transfer tax, business tax and income tax)
• Building inspection costs
• Legal expenses
As a rough guide, be prepared to pay an additional five percent of the property value to cover these extra, ‘add-on’ costs.
When you are satisfied that you know how much you can afford to spend on a home, enter this figure onto your ‘wish list’.
Where do you want to live?
Your budget and your desired lifestyle will influence where you want to live. When considering the financial aspects, start by taking a look at the average property values in the areas you like. This will give you a good indication of whether the properties in these areas are within your price bracket.
If you really like a particular area but find that the average property price is well out of your range, don’t despair, remember the old real estate adage ‘buying the worst house in the best street is better than buying the best house in the worst street’.
Always ensure that you get professional advice on the cost of any repairs or renovation work you expect to undertake on the property.
The home that you purchase is likely to be one of your most valuable financial assets, therefore, you should endeavor to select a property that is likely to substantially increase in value over time. Prime locations to consider are those where property prices have performed well in the past in terms of capital appreciation.
Finding a location that suits your particular lifestyle requirements is also very important. Perhaps you need or want to be located close to specific amenities such as:
• Family and/or friends
• Shopping facilities
• Public transport
• Educational facilities
• Sporting facilities
• Entertainment facilities
• Low noise area
• Quiet safe street
Finally, don’t forget to note down on your ‘wish list’ in all those areas you would consider living in.
What type of home do you want?
As well as deciding on where you want to live, you also need to decide on exactly what type of home you want.
Again, your choices may be influenced or constrained by your budget. For example, if your dream home is out of reach at the moment, you could decide to buy a block of land and defer building your home until a later date.
Below is a list of options you will need to consider when deciding on your type of home.
Type of home, free-standing, semi, condominium, terrace (shophouse, townhouse)
• New, used or old
• Renovated or unrenovated
• Number of bedrooms
• Number of bathrooms
• Yard, courtyard or balcony
• Garage, undercover parking or off-road parking
• North facing
• Floorplan and facilities with access for furniture and white goods
• Privacy and security
• Swimming pool
Don’t forget to update your ‘wish list’ to reflect those items above that are important to you.
When do you want to move in?
The next thing to consider is the time frame you want for moving into your new home. You may have to move out of rented accommodation by a certain date or perhaps you are relocating as a result of an employment transfer. Whatever your circumstances, you will need to plan ahead to ensure a smooth move to your new home.
Bear in mind that several hours each weekend, or during the week will need to be set aside for viewing prospective properties. Be realistic about the amount of time house hunting is likely to take.
You probably won’t be lucky enough to find your dream home within the first five houses you see – possibly not even the first twenty houses, so if you are working to a tight schedule, try and make your ‘wish list’ as accurate as possible and discuss this with your Real Estate Agent prior to inspecting any properties.
The next step is to begin your search.
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