There comes a time in most people’s life when we decide to buy a home for ourselves – be it to start a family, or for a bachelor pad, or maybe just some place to call your own – whatever the reason, going into something new is always a little frightening, especially when it’s totally unfamiliar. Below are the steps guiding you to become a house hunter and progress into a homeowner.
Step 1: Becoming a house hunter
Like any hunter, you need to study your prey. Do this by researching what property is up and coming, take note of changes to prices and see how long things stay on the market. Get a sense of housing trends and market prices, that way it will be easier to determine your next move.
Step 2: Determine how much house you can afford
Once you have a good sense of the market and housing trend, you can determine how much house you can afford. Only you can decide on this so consider it carefully. Keep in mind that you will need a sum of money as a down payment when signing the promise of sale agreement – this is equivalent to 10% of the sale price. When taking a loan you should calculate no more than 28% of your monthly wage as a monthly payment.
Don’t forget additional costs, such as closing costs and legal fees – which are usually 2%-3% of the housing price. It’s also important to remember moving fees and labor charges, plus any fixes that you might have to make to the house upon moving in and monthly maintenance fees.
Step 3: You’ve got a friend in ‘real estate agents’
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by steps one and two, don’t worry! There are people out there who’s job it is to assist you on this hunt. These people are real estate agents, they are skilled and talented negotiators who aren’t scared to make the kill/pull the trigger (trying to relate it to hunting but is it too much?) – on your behalf.
Real estate agents are familiar with the different areas around Malta that property is for sale in and can direct you to the ones suitable for your needs and lifestyle. As real estate agents work on behalf of a company they will be loaded with helpful information regarding homes and neighborhoods that might not be so easily accessed by the public. The best thing of all is it doesn’t cost you a penny! Agents are compensated from the commission paid by the seller of the house not the buyer.
Step 4: Shopping for a home and making an offer
Here’s the fun part, if you ask me. You get to chose your favorite places, obviously keeping in mind needs and lifestyle, not only looks. Once you’ve chosen places that look right for you, call up your real estate agent and plan viewings.
Before the viewings, I suggest making a list of things to check when visiting each property. Most people go on viewings blindly and get distracted by the bigs things thus forgetting to check the little details. Here are a few important ones to get you started:
- Plumbing: run the tap or shower to check the water pressure and see how long it takes to get hot water.
- Electricity: turn on and off switches in different rooms to test the electric system
- Doors and windows: open and close to make sure all are in functioning conditions
- Location: check the outside area of the house – Is the block maintained? Is it conveniently situated near places of interest?
After the viewings, speak to your real estate agent, tell him your decision and give him your offer. Your agent will then place the offer and negotiate on your behalf.
Step 5: Sign a Promise of Sale Agreement
This is when it all becomes real, so to speak. A meeting is set between you, the property owner and a third party notary to sign the agreement. This agreement promises the acquisition of the property should all contingencies be met. Contingencies may be subject to bank loan, subject to title of ownership or subject to MEPA permits, among others.
Step 6: Conducting research
This is mainly for the notary but it’s good to be aware of it. The notary will gather all the relevant documents, make sure all regulations are met and issue all forms necessary for the purchase of the property.
Step 7: Sign the final deed
Once the notary has completed his task, it is then time to sign the deed and make the property official yours. Congratulations!
Step 8: Bonus step – plan a housewarming party
Finally all your hard work has paid off and you are now a proud new homeowner. It’s time to plan a party and show off your new place to all your friends and family.
Buying a property in Malta may be a long winded process but with the help of a real estate agent and the extensive information on the Internet your process will be made an easy and memorable one.