UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Are you about to buy a new house? The high demand for residential housing in Uganda has led to a real estate boom, giving rise to many small and large-scale real estate developments. The industry has become highly commercialised and competitive, and some developers may cut corners in favour of commercial interests. Therefore, you ought to be vigilant when buying a house.
Here are the six things you need to know before making an offer to buy a house.
Have Your Cash Ready
One of the first steps before making an offer is understanding how much you can afford and having the discipline to stay within your budget.
Ensure you have enough cash for the down payment and closing costs. In case you need a top-up loan, connect with the lenders early enough to avoid money hiccups. Having your finances in order shows you are a serious buyer, which can give you a competitive advantage when competing for a home with other buyers.
Hire a Real Estate Professional
We all like to save some money. You might think buying a house on your own will help you avoid paying a real estate agent’s commission. However, working with an experienced real estate agent is likely to save you money in the long run. Relying on a real estate agent’s knowledge and guidance can help you put your best offer on the table. Local real estate agents negotiate for a living, and they know what works best.
Dereck Tuhairwe, manager at Elite Crete Systems Uganda, advises home buyers to negotiate a fixed search fee with brokers from the outset.
“Otherwise, they will take you around properties and each time you do not like it, they will charge you for the time spent,” Tuhairwe says, adding: “But if you agree on a fixed search fee, then the agent will not waste your time by taking you to properties they know you may not be interested in.”
Inspections and Tests
Do not skimp on a professional inspection of the home, even though it is a hot market.
Mr Tuhairwe warns to be cautious of houses with high moisture content in the walls. One way to spot this is peeling of paint, although a fresh coat of paint can temporarily mask the issue. However, you can determine if the walls have high moisture content by using a moisture measurer. This is a standard procedure carried out by a professional engineer. If the moisture levels are above normal, it may be a sign of poor water proofing of the foundation.
An independent registered engineer or architect can perform these and other quality tests on the home, such as assessing the quality of the concrete and the plumbing system in the house.
If you skip a thorough professional inspection, you may end up stuck with a house you can’t afford to fix.
Ronald Atwine, a civil engineer, says that before making an initial deposit, the seller must present to you an approved survey report showing plot demarcations.
Also required is a valid land title from the Lands registry. Other additional documents needed are approved architectural and structural drawings showing the size of land and house, as well as approved electro-mechanical drawings for the house’s electrical wiring.
If the house on raised land such as a hill, you should look for approved soil test support. If the land lies within a swamp or forest area, an environmental impact assessment report approved by the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) may be required.
These documents must have signatures and stamps from the proper authorities such as the Ministry of Lands, the district engineer or any other registered and approved engineers and NEMA.
Ensuring you have the proper documents can save you lots of future complications.
The new house might be your dream home, however, also pay attention to the area. Look into local schools, the proximity to important amenities such as stores, healthcare, etc. You can even use a search engine to search for local news in the area to help you assess instances of crime in that area, make sure there is nothing too negative that stands out.
Mr Tuhairwe recommends asking neighbours if they know of any problems, who else has an interest in the property, how long the house has been vacant and why.
While you stop and talk to the neighbours, assess whether they are people you wouldn’t mind having as your new neighbours.
Remember that you are not just buying a house, but you are choosing a place to live. Inquire and see what information you can glean from the neighbours before making that offer.
Take a Second House Visit
Although you may have toured the house already, take a final walk-through before making the offer. Many people fall in love with the property the first time they see it, which warps their perspective when it comes time to buy. You might have missed some details the first time around. For instance, critically assess if there is any part of the home that needs renovating.
On the first visit, you were exploring a potential home. On the second visit, you decide whether you like the house enough to invest millions on it.
Let’s face it – we all love a good deal. However, make sure you are properly informed regarding the condition of the house, market value, recent sales in the area, and demand. Your real estate agent can help you navigate the process. Also, ask them about what other steps you might need to take after your purchase.
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