Buying an apartment? Here is what you should know

Buying an apartment is perhaps the biggest investment you will make. It can involve taking of loans and/or putting all your savings into the project. Make sure you do it right. You do not want to buy something that will give you sleepless nights. Take a look at this guide on things to check before buying a house/apartment.

A lot of people buy an apartment in haste and spend the rest of their life regretting their decision. Don't be one of those people. You don't buy a home every other day, nor do homes come cheap. When you are planning to invest tens of lakhs in an apartment make sure you weigh all the pros and cons, before handing over the money.

The entire process of buying an apartment seems simple, and yet there are numerous stories of people getting cheated and mislead. This is a guide to help you know what to look out for, so you make a wise choice and do not regret your decision.

Essential infrastructure in and around the apartment complex

You shouldn't buy an apartment just because it is affordable or someone you know has booked an apartment in the same project. Do not be enamoured by the promotional videos, pamphlets, booklets, hoardings and other offers. These are just marketing hogwash. There are a few things that you as a buyer must consider before you make the purchase, especially if you plan to reside in or rent out your apartment. Go through this check-off list -
  • Is basic infrastructure available in and around the housing society?
  • Is there a grocery store nearby or within the housing complex, where everyday essentials such as vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, dal, rice etcetera can be bought.
  • What about a hospital or clinic, in case of an emergency – there should be one, within a few kilometres from the place.
  • Is the location on the public transport map? Do buses ply to the locality? How far is the metro-station – give that a thought.
  • Is there a decent school near the place, where your kids can be admitted?
  • Is there a store selling stationery items located close to the apartments?
  • Is there a chemist shop in the vicinity?
  • What are the amenities available in the area – playground, swimming pool, sports/music and other miscellaneous coaching centres
  • Is there are a bank and ATM close by?
  • A post-office or a courier service near the apartment complex are also desirable.
  • Is the housing society linked to the municipal corporation sewage lines?
  • Will the water supply be provided by the corporation?
  • Is the drainage around the area adequate?
  • Is the area low-lying? Will it flood during torrential rains?
  • There should be no garbage dump near the area – also check how the garbage from the society will be managed.
  • Are the arterial roads laid? Pot-holed roads translates to huge maintenance costs for your vehicle.
  • Are the roads lit at night?
  • Is the neighbourhood safe – check for chain snatching, mugging, theft reports and other criminal activities in the area.
  • Is it close to the main road – what about noise pollution and vehicular pollution?
  • Does the apartment have a common toilet – en-suite washrooms can be a problem, because your privacy will be invaded each time a visitor wishes to use the same. They will enter your private living space (the bedroom) to access the bathroom.
If it is an apartment in completed project then speak to the neighbours and the security guards for their insights. You will be surprised at the kind of information you can gather, by just speaking to the right people.

What to look for in an apartment?

Marketing guys are trained to sell stuff – as is the marketing team selling apartments. They make everything appear glossy; they blind you with their sweet talk; cleverly divert your attention from the obvious flaws and show you just positive aspects of the property you are looking to buy. Do not be too trusting, remember everyone is out to make money and not everything is as rosy as it is made out to be.
Here is what you need to know -
  • Furniture in sample flats: Many builders are known to trick buyers, by placing smaller sized furniture in the sample house. It is an illusion, but it works. The apartment looks bigger and the floor area looks larger, than it actually is. Carry a measuring tape if you must, but do check the actual dimensions of the furniture in the furnished sample apartment. Don't fall for the ploy. Similarly, look for mirrors that might be strategically placed to create an impression of space. Remember, lighting and colours used inside the apartment can also deceive you into believing the apartment is bigger than it actually is.
  • Ventilation, natural light and privacy: Check how many windows the apartment has. See where they open. Do the windows look into the adjacent apartment or the corridor? Is the view from the window/balcony pleasant? Will you have privacy, if the drapes are left open? Is there free flow of air or is some structure blocking the breeze? Does it receive adequate natural light?
  • Location: Where is the apartment located – it should not overlook the STP or the main gate. Nor should it be too close to the play area, or you will be disturbed throughout your stay. If it is on the periphery of the complex make sure it does not look over a slum or an open drain or open space used for abulation.
  • Security: Is the apartment secure from intruders. There should be no trees, walls, ledges or pipes that can provide easy access into your apartment.
  • Generator backup: Will generator backup be available in all rooms?
  • Safety: Do windows have grills? Will the grill provide ample safety, especially if you have small children or you choose a ground floor apartment? Is the balcony railing high enough? Is it child safe?
  • Amenities: Does the society have a gym or a club house and other amenities?
  • Common area: What percentage of built-up area is in the common area? Higher percentage means the inside of your apartment will be smaller.
  • Parking: Underground parking areas are preferred over stilt parking, and the latter is better than parking slots in the open. Is there a designated area for visitor's car parking?

This is a basic check list, to give you an idea of important things that most homebuyers often neglect. It is created keeping the interest of the homebuyer in mind.

Check the quality of the construction

How do you check the quality of the construction? There is no definite way to do that, but it is possible to make an assessment. Here are a few points to guide you -
  • Reputation: The builder, the architect and the contractor of the project must be of high-standing. They should have successfully completed projects to their credit. Take a trip to the other sites associated with them. Speak to occupants to find out problems, if any. Check the internet, for reviews received.
  • Building material & techniques: Ask questions about the building materials being used and techniques applied. Keep asking questions, until you are satisfied. Don't just stand there and listen, if you are told that a special material or technique is being used, ask how it is better than standard stuff. Don't just listen, do some groundwork to learn more.
  • Wall thickness: New techniques use wafer thin walls. Opt instead for 9" external walls, for better stability.
  • Guarantees and liabilities: Finally, before making the final decision, ask for a sample copy of the sale agreement that you would be signing. Have a lawyer study it. It should have a clause on 'performance guarantee' and/or a clause on 'structural liability' for at least three years. This will safeguard your interests, as these clauses make the builder responsible for any defect in the construction, after you take possession of the apartment. Seepage, cracks, plumbing and electrical wiring defects are the most common problems that you can face, which will be covered by these clauses.
  • Documents: Ask copies of permissions pertaining to the project. Have the same authenticated - a good lawyer can help with the same. It will ensure that the project does not face a hitch or get embroiled in legal battles in future.

Finally, it is best to go for a project that is completed or is near completion. There are fewer problems with them, such as unforeseen delays. A ready to move in apartment might cost more, but you are at least assured that you will get possession of the same.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: K Mohan25 Oct 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 5

Purchasing an apartment is a great challenge before the new generation. As they start earning money, they would first like to acquire a home for them. In that urgency they would fail to verify the details of any apartment they have chosen to purchase. Normally we go by the friends or relatives recommendations to buy an apartment. But what I feel that instead of going through recommendations, we must consider various factors before buying a apartment. That it must be in first or second floor because in case of no current or no lift, we should not have problem to reach our home by stair case. Our elders must like the house because they are also going to live with us and they may some times go and come again. In that case the apartment should not be in upper floors. Likewise the maintenance charges should also should be taken into account. In some places maintenance charges are high and that is not recommended. Over all an apartment must be strategically located, it must have all the basic facilities, it must be reasonably priced and above all it should not have water problems and the documents should be loan eligible.

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