Property market is abuzz that #AchheDin has arrived. The recent Repo-rate cut by RBI and the forthcoming budget and a lot of positive anticipations of tax relief, flexible monetary policy, submerging inflation, REIT fund, FDI norms getting boost all tell us a tale of a bright future of Indian economy and Real Estate industry as a whole.
Now, as an individual, you must have been holding on to that plan of investment in a Ready-to-occupy home which gives you instant Rental return or option of shifting to that Spacious living room with a wide balcony or the Penthouse of your dream!
Here is a checklist that you must check while inspecting the home. Your seller/real estate broker/builder may not point out all these to you.
How old is the building?
Ask this question before you plan to visit the property. The price may be attractive as per the location, but this may be because the building is old. You may not choose to buy a house more than certain number of years old. However, keep in mind that some superior locations in Mumbai, Bangalore or Old Delhi will not have newly built homes on sale. So, if you happen to prefer those areas, you may have to compromise. My point is, be ready with the information, don’t get your heart broken once you like it then come to know of this deal-breaking information.
Did anyone else occupy the house/apartment or is it first ownership?
This may not sound so important initially, however, a completely unoccupied house for, say 5 years, may have its own issues like clogged pipes, broken taps, cracked walls, seepage, unpolished floor etc. So, you may need to ask your seller to make all that in a proper condition before handing it over to you. On the other side, if the property was occupied earlier, you may want to have the sanitary ware replaced, kitchen & bathrooms acid-washed etc., which you should utter before the deal price is set.
Is there a damp anywhere?
Most of the cities in India are humid. Damp is a common happening in all buildings where proper sealing has not been done, or shoddy plumbing job gives away the pipes and eventually shows up above the concrete. Cement is not waterproof and whatever remedy you use, it will never get completely cured. Your ‘dream home’ should not become a ‘nightmare’ later. Beware of this check. Now, how do you check damp? Good question. The damp can be in three directions—roof, walls and floor. We generally look at the ceiling & the walls and forget the floor. The easiest way to check floor-damp is to take off your shoes & place your bare foot on the floor. If you get a wet feeling, then look for patches on the floor, which might look like abstract designs on the marble flooring, but it isn’t. Generally floor-damps will slowly spread to the wall too, so if there’s some flaking of the paint near the skirting of the floor, be rest assured.
What has been used for waterproofing (if it’s a penthouse or a villa)?
There are plenty of chemical treatments available these days which can very well protect the roof from excess heat, rainwater or water-logging at the roof. If the construction company has used good materials in sufficient quantity in the house/penthouse, no need to worry. But better check it than regret later. It’s quite expensive to do that up later from your own funds, so don’t feel shy of asking for the details!
Is the paint on the wall fresh?
Though it looks good and smells fresh, I’d like to play a devil’s advocate here. Is there anything that is being tried to be hidden from you? May be a patch on the wall or just to make sure you like it instantly and don’t ask many questions? That designer-paint on the backdrop of the master bedroom should not take so much of your breath away that you stop looking for what you have come to see! You must not get carried away with the ‘beauty’ of the house. That costs you nothing as against the price you’re going to pay!
Is it carpeted or having wooden floor?
Many modern day apartments are being sold with wall-to-wall carpets in study and wooden floor in master bedroom. It enhances the charm of the house and makes it look ‘rich’. But please do the same act of barefoot checking on these two too, especially if it looks as if the furnishing has been done recently(for the purpose of the sale). You might discover the poor quality beneath the rich-looking modern home!
Check the plumbing. Open the taps.
Unused plumbing is the most horrible thing a home can have. There could be clogging of pipelines externally or internally, could be construction debris stuck somewhere which might need complete renovation of those pipelines, dead rodents contaminating water, building-management company supplying dirty water in the commode, making the sanitary-ware go badly damaged. There could be many issues. So, open all taps to see what flows out & take precautionary actions before you decide to buy.
Quality & source of water-supply in the building & what’s the water pressure?
The plumbing issue reminds me of another important issue in apartment complexes these days- the water supply. Does the building have adequate supply of bore-well ground-water or the building survive on water from the tankers which is purchased every day? Even if we don’t like it, buying water has become a part of life for all high rises across the country. Some cities like Kolkata, part of Bangalore city & some South Delhi homes still get the ‘corporation-water’ supply, but others will have to use the ‘tanker-water’ even in their swimming pools! So, if you are getting attracted towards the jacuzzi in your master bath, be sure also know what is the water pressure in your building, specifically on your floor; else your health faucet may also not work, leave alone the rain-shower! FYI, higher the floor, lesser the pressure. So, if this is the most expensive penthouse you are looking at, the water-pressure is the least!
Garbage disposal facility
Waste management is a science. Disposal of garbage in a planned way is important for the environment as well as for healthy living. I have homes in different cities and they all have different modes of management. Some use different colours of buckets for organic/hazardous/garden wastes, some have only wet & dry garbage disposal facility. I am sure this is evolving more every day and soon there will be different trucks coming to each building from the city-garbage cleaning team to take different types of garbage & we will be fined for non-compliance too! So, please check what method & facility is being perused in this property, which will give you a fair idea of how the people in this complex are, whether progressive or not.
Neighbouring area & notice inside or outside the building
While going for the inspection, please stop talking on your mobile phone for office work, or generally otherwise. When you are about half a kilometer away, start observing the road, bus stops, market, pedestrians, trees, cleanliness, cars plying around, plantation…. does it give you a homely feel? Do you feel you belong to this area? Will you allow your teenage daughter to commute alone? It might sound a little too much for you, but trust me when I say, I have seen people renting/buying a lovely property & vacating/selling it in less than six months as the ‘neighbourhood didn’t suit’! Check specifically for any notices outside the building with any litigation/ lawsuit number mentioned or notices inside the complex of some funny stuff like-‘bicycle missing’, ‘deposit unpaid-disconnection notice’, ‘nobody turned up for owners’ meeting’, ‘pay transfer charges to association before you rent/buy’ etc. These will give you a fair idea of how everybody else is living their lives here, as well as of any hidden charges that may come up when you come here to take possession!
Sound-proofing & Dust-busters
Wanting to buy that beautiful road-facing sunlit large apartment? Having dreams of sitting on that wide balcony with a cup of ginger tea & teaching your daughter for her maths exam? Expecting parents to enjoy the lovely afternoon sun on the deck listening to old Gazals? Hey, first check out how noisy is that place? Don’t regret later. Even if the road is not that noisy today, if there’s a road widening on the cards & buses and trucks are supposed to ply then how dusty will that be always? Will you have the willingness to even step out on the balcony, or are you buying it for the pigeons to have safe havens to lay eggs & dirty them? Remember, you pay 100% of your square-foot cost for the balcony too! So, check before you invest in it.
How is the traffic during peak hours?
It must have taken you 30 minutes to drive to the property on a Sunday when you inspected it, but will it take the same on your work-days? I am sure you don’t want to be late in your office everyday or miss your TV serial by half the show time everyday waiting 100 meters away from home in the traffic snarl! How stressful will that be if it happens to you everyday? So, check that out too. Ask your colleagues who live nearby that property, about the bottlenecks & take feedback. Or simply, try yourself once.
See it once in daylight & once after dark; once during weekdays & once on weekdays.
Don’t worry, it’s not four, but two visits only if you plan it See it on a weekday during daytime and on a holiday in the evening. Trust me, the colour of the house, the light-fittings, the breeze, the mosquitoes, children paying on the corridor/porch, the wait time of the lift…..everything changes! Experience it before you decide.
What facing is the house?
Though I am personally not a believer of any methodology, but I believe that having the morning sun in the house and the south-breeze is really good for well-being. If you are a vaastu/feng shui believer, go ahead and check that out too, for peace of your mind. Making peace with your own self & with family who will live with you is important.
While there are certain aspects that you should ensure that you keep in mind while investing in your dream home, but at the end of the day you must base the decision on what your heart wants. I would just sign off by saying.. Best wishes for your dream home!
Sukanya Kumar, Founder and Director, RetailLending.com