Thinking of buying your first home?
For many, buying a property is the greatest investment of a lifetime – so it’s not something to be taken lightly, or done quickly. With careful planning and time, as well as help from the experts throughout the process, you will be well on your way to becoming a fully-fledged homeowner.
With so much to consider, it’s not surprising that the very idea of being a first home buyer could make you nervous. Here’s a checklist of tips to guide you as you take steps towards buying your first home.
Start by setting your budget
Malta and Gozo are full of properties of all shapes and sizes, in varying locations and suiting every budget — so it’s crucial to establish what you can afford even before you search for your ideal first home.
Your first step is to check your finances, and gauge if you will need to take out a loan. If you do, you’ll need to set up a meeting with your bank to discuss the limit of the amount you may borrow, which is usually set based on your salary or a combined income if you are buying jointly with a partner or spouse. Factor in any other expenses you may already have such as the architect’s visits and contingencies for refurbishment, whilst keeping in mind the utilities and general maintenance that would be required before moving in.
Once you have your figure, don’t forget to also take any other costs into account, such as furnishings or notary fees and stamp duty which may affect the amount you can reasonably afford to spend on the property.
Establish both your ‘wish list’ and your ‘need list’
What we want and what we need in a property can often differ. Even though you might long for five bedrooms and a sea view, you may actually need only three bedrooms in a home where a convenient location for your commute is more important than the vista.
By writing down both your list of wishes and your list of needs for your new home, you will be better equipped to communicate exactly what you are looking for to your agent, including your absolute dealbreaker points as well as any bonus items.
Location, location, location
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential properties, now is the time to consider the location of each one in more detail.
Based on your present circumstances and future plans, how well-connected is each house to family, friends, schools, work and so on? Is its location quiet or busy, or does it offer sufficient parking or other local amenities? Each of these considerations could make all the difference between your dream home today, and what will be your dream home in the years to come.
According to a recent survey, it takes an average of 11 property visits to find the perfect home. If you have seen more than that maybe you need to re-clarify what you are actually after and refine your criteria. Make sure you are on the right track.
Make an offer
Now that you’ve hopefully found your first home, you need to make it yours. As well as the price that is being proposed by the seller of the property, it’s a good idea to check out the prices of other similar properties in the area with the help of your agent.
Being mindful of your budget as set in point #1, then you may be in a position to make a reasonable offer on the property, and to negotiate. Once you and the seller have agreed on the purchase price, a date is then set to sign a ‘Promise of Sale’ or Konvenju, which is a contract between the buyer and seller that sets out the terms you have agreed in writing.
This Promise of Sale agreement will also include a specific date on which you will meet again to sign the final contract, following a period of time in which the particulars of the property will have been doublechecked by the relevant experts.
Sign on the dotted line
After all the planning, lists, searching and checking, at last you can sign the final deed on your new property, and officially become a homeowner.
At that point, you will also need to settle any outstanding balances such as notary fees, stamp duty and your deposit, and your property agent will be able to guide you to make sure you’ve completed everything that you need to do.
Once the contract is registered with the Public Registry, the keys are yours, and it’s over to you to set about making this house into your dream first home!
Speak to a member of the RE/MAX team today to start your journey towards buying your first home in Malta or Gozo.