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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Buying your first home is a big step and can be exciting

Let’s say one morning you wake up and realise that, yes, buying your first home is the right thing to do for yourself.

You’re tired of throwing away money on rent and figure that it’s time to get into a home of your own.

In most cases, first-time home buyers would opt for apartments due to convenience and the abundance of choices in accordance to one’s budget.

Apartments enjoy a reputation synonymous with city living, stylish open-plan space and great views.

But choosing and buying an apartment can be an arduous task (or maybe it was just me), and there are plenty of things you need to think about at each and every stage of the investment process.

This guide is what I put together to help highlight those key points you need to be thinking of at each and every stage of your quest for the perfect apartment. It was what I used to consider my purchase.

Spend some time thinking about the kind of apartment you’re looking for. This will help you narrow down your options and enable you to determine some ‘must haves’ in your apartment choices.

* Location, location, location! - Narrow down the areas that you are most interested in living in, and make a list of these locations. Similarly, make a note of all the areas you definitely don’t want to live. This way, property agents will know immediately which properties to offer and which to discard. This process narrows down your search and save you time when viewing.

* Money matters - Consider your finances carefully and decide on a maximum budget – narrowing down your search field in this way will ensure that you only view properties you can afford. Don’t forget to bear in mind your income and outgoings – factoring in not just the monthly payments, but the apartment’s montly service charges as well.

* Space - How much space will you need in your apartment? How many bedrooms? How big a kitchen? Do you need an office?

* Style - Studio apartments merge all your living space into one area, while open-plan design means that your kitchen, dining area and living room will be contained in one open space. Do you want separate rooms within the apartment? Would studio living be too cramped? For me, I had to give up on the idea of an open-concept kitchen mainly because I placed top priority on my apartment’s location and the apartment that suited my budget did not have an open-concept kitchen.

* Specifics - Are there certain criteria on which you are unwilling to compromise? Do you want wooden floors? High ceilings? An open-plan design? Designated parking spaces? In my case, besides the location being a priority, I wanted to have the smallest room in the apartment to be right next to the master bedroom. That way, I would be able to hack the wall to create an opening for my walk-in wardrobe.

It would be pointless for me to look at layouts where the smallest room would be at one end of the apartment, and the master bedroom be at the other end of the apartment.

The middle room would be too big to house my wardrobe and the smallest room would have been too small for my guest room and office.

Things to look out for

1. Noise - If you’re seriously thinking of investing in a particular apartment, take the time to research those living above and below as well as next-door to your property.

A week into your new apartment-life is not the time to discover a neighbour’s penchant for heavy metal or playing the drums!

2. Accessibility - Take a minute to think of those who will be visiting you at home – are there people for whom access could be a problem? Is there a functional lift for older visitors or family?

3. Outside Space - One of the sacrifices of apartment living can be the loss of outdoor space. I’m not so much of an outdoors person, but I made sure the apartment I purchased had a reasonably-sized balcony.

4. Pets - If you have pets, consider them in your property search.

This can be a major consideration for those wishing to move into an apartment, as you must be fair to both your pets and your neighbours.

Is your dog’s barking likely to irritate neighbours? Will you be able to give the pet adequate fresh air and exercise?

When you’ve found an apartment you’re really keen on, you may want to ask around people who live there or nearby to ensure there are no hidden problems which may affect your interest.

These efforts in research goes a long way in giving you peace of mind, should you finally decide to put in an offer, and can help you to avoid making an unsound investment.

I was passively looking at properties and being indecisive for three years before making a choice and sticking to it.

> Dawn Jeremiah is looking for faux mantelpieces and fireplaces for her living room. Armed with a passion for television and journalism, she handles regional marketing at a regional lifestyle channel. She also tweets at

By The Star

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