Tips and Guides

Your Step-by-Step Guide To Home Ownership

Read up for lessons on how to buy in real estate

Original Article: Tara FT Sering Photography:

Whether it's a condominium, a townhouse or a multi-storey property, purchasing a home is a major milestone in anyone's life and a huge financial investment—needless to say, it can be a stressful experience. To help you navigate through the process with ease, we've put together a handy guide you can read through. Check it out below: 

1. Look for a good real estate professional or a broker.

Just as you ask friends and family for a good doctor or dentist, ask them to recommend a broker. Brokers can advise you about market condition, whether it’s a good time to sink in your cash in real estate, or if you should wait until the situation becomes more favorable.

If you’re buying from a secondary seller (in other words, an individual who bought the unit from the developer and is now selling), your broker will tell you if the person is serious about the deal. He will also negotiate on your behalf for a suitable price and can even bargain for add-ons, such as furniture or window fixtures you want to keep. 

Once you have the name of the licensed broker; set up a meeting. Over a meal or coffee, see if you are comfortable with this person. You will entrust him with finding you a home, so is he someone you can talk to about personal preferences?

After you tell your broker what you are looking for, ask for options so that you get a feel of what's in the market. This is part of the broker's work. How is it worth his while? Local practice has the broker paid by the seller once the sale goes through. 

2. Shop around and do a background check. 

With your broker in tow, look at the condos. Then ask him to help you study the Master Deed for restrictions not to your liking. For example, the deed may stop you from knocking down walls. If you see yourself renovating, you have to rethink the purchase. If you're buying from a secondary seller, make sure that the condo corporation has been given notice and has had the right of first refusal. 

Condominium properties, once completed, gets turned over to the condo corporation, which is comprised of all the unit and owners and their board of officers. The Master Deed usually requires that the corporation gets first dibs on what's up for sale, or that they have first option to turn the property down. 

Make sure that the actual floor area matches the area specified in the title. Do the same for the unit number, where it's located on the floor, and how big the space is. Have a handyman measure the space. Ask how much monthly association dues are. Some buildings charge quite steeply for mainteance of common areas, especially if the development has many amenities, such as a large swimming pool. 

Check that the unit you are buying is clear of outstanding financial obligations, such as utility bills, phone bills, and association dues. Other things to inquire about: If you have pets, does the building allow them, and on what conditions? Does the unit come with a phone line? 

If you have a car, check that the unit comes with its own parking slot. Parking spaces come with separate titles, so ask for this. 

3. Make an offer through your broker.

If you're buying from a developer, they usually have their set financing schemes. If you're buying from an individual, you can negotiate for a lower price. Make an offer and put it in writing. Include the price you're willing to pay, the terms of payment—whether you'll be paying in cash, installment, or through bank financing—and who is paying for which taxes. 

Taxes come as closing costs; once you've agreed on the unit, the price, and the terms, payment of taxes need to be sorted out—including capital gains tax (CGT), documentary stamps tax, transfer tax and registration fees. Once you've sorted everything out, your broker will draft the contract. Double-check for your terms and the demands of the seller, and make sure you understand everything before you sign. 

4. Sign the contract to sell. 

Then bring out the bubbly and enjoy your new home! A little note: Once you have paid the amount in full, or when your bank has released a Letter of Guarantee (given if you apply for a home financing loan), then you can sign the Deed of Absolute Sale which transfters ownership of the property to your name. 

Read the original article (You condo it!) in the January-February 2004 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to for more details. 

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