Deciding to buy property is very exciting! Maybe you have been renting for years and have decided it is time for house ownership, so those rent payments become mortgage payments towards your own investment. Whatever the situation, buying a home is a huge feat and can have you feeling a lost as a first-timer. We offer you some helpful tips for first-time home buyers to assist you and educate you throughout the process – before you buy, during the buying period and for even after you move into your new place.
BEFORE YOU BUY
As you consider taking the big plunge into being your own landlord, a very important question to answer honestly is why exactly you want to buy a house. There are several benefits to owning property but it also comes with great responsibility which you have to make sure you are ready for. Once you are sure, you’ll need to decide what type of home suits your needs best – do you need a large single family two bedroom house in Accra or a three bedroom house in Kumasi? Would a condo a prime neighbourhood be better? Or perhaps a semi-detached house on the more quiet outskirts of the city? When you have that decision down, you need to figure out what top home features and amenities are important to you. This is your very own dream house so don’t compromise on they can also be important if you sell in the future.
Of course this is affected a lot by how much you can afford so you will have to get your numbers together. Even if you get a home loan, you need to consider the required down-payment and if you are comfortable with the monthly minimum payments. Those are not the only financial considerations. As a homeowner, you need to think about property insurance, the need for frequent maintenance and possible upgrades. If you are planning on taking out a mortgage, apply early to see if you qualify and how much they are willing to lend you. If they are offering less than you would have hoped then obviously, this may have a negative impact on the kind of house you were planning on purchasing.
Okay, you have done a lot of thinking and planning; you have been honest with yourself about what you can afford and what you need and want, and now it’s time to find a house to buy! How are you going to go about your property search? You can drive around looking for “For Sale” signs, find a real estate agent to work with directly or you can go the more efficient route – online real estate portals, like meQasa.com which offers seekers thousands of available property for sale in Ghana. To speed up your search and help you review the best options, meQasa provides valuable home seeker tools you should sign up to like Property Alerts and subscribe to the DREAM HOMES e-newsletter.
DURING THE BUYING PERIOD
Whew! You’ve found that dream house. This is it. The buying process can be a little tedious and stressful but at least we can help you with what to expect. If you have enough money to pay cash, that will definitely speed things up. If not, you need to look carefully at your financing options. A 20% down payment is typical and a payment plan can be agreed with the seller, usually spread out over a year. Mortgages help make the purchase possible now in exchange for interest, if you qualify based on your income. Study the offered rates as they will affect the final, total spend. There are not that many home loan options in Ghana, but still be sure to speak with various banks to see where you can get the best deal. You will hear a lot of real estate terms during this time and need to educate yourself on what they mean so feel comfortable with all conversations.
Most asking prices can be negotiated and this is the time to develop a steel backbone for getting the lowest purchase price possible. Yes, you saw a price that made you call and go and see the place but don’t be scared to present a counter-offer. Many sellers have properties that have sat on the market for so long that they are willing to be flexible. He/she may not accept your precise offer but come back with another number. It’s a fine balance so don’t push too much lest you lose the house, but some back and forth is normal, especially in Ghana where property sale prices are quite inflated.
Once you come to terms with the seller, you can close the deal. If you worked with a real estate agent, they will also ask for their 5% commission. When you have fully paid the price or the house, the indenture is transferred from owner to new buyer who then registers the property as the new homeowner. You have to stay smart and safe during your property search – online and offline – to avoid real estate scams. Don’t make any payments without legal paperwork backing everything.
The property title is signed, you have moved in and life is but a dream…but we still have more advise so you can actually enjoy your homeownership long term without stress and anxiety. You had to save for years to make your home purchase possible but now is not the time to stop. Homeownership means you everything that has to do with the house, is your expense and sometimes issues rear their ugly heads unexpectedly. You need to continue to save so that you can maintain the property. Make sure you do maintain the home regularly so you do not spend hefty sums fixing issues that could have been resolved earlier.
It’s a big move to buy your first home, and though it can be a bit stressful, we hope these first-time home buyer tips helps you with what to expect.