6 Things to Know Before Buying a House

“Gusto ko na magka-bahay.”

“Sana may sariling bahay na ako.”

Anybody else who has thoughts like these every once in a while?

Back when I was younger, I never thought of the concept of owning a house. I never thought it was a big deal. I did not see the value of it. I grew up in a family where we move out from one house to another; from the city to the province; from a small house near the necessary amenities to a bigger one to accommodate two adults and two growing teens. 

Having a sariling bahay was far from my plans even after college. I was too distracted from enjoying my hard-earned money by buying small stuff that makes me happy. Five years into being an employee I was too busy to work and earn enough to support my current needs.

Maybe turning 30 (in a few months as I write this) affects one’s perspective in life and makes one realize that (maybe) time is running out and better set one’s priorities. Am I still in the mid-life crisis phase? Maybe this is me caving into the pressure? All of us have different priorities in life but we can’t deny that owning a house may or will always be on the list.

All that aside, let me tell you that I decided to purchase a house this year. I inked the purchase deal with the help of a friend who works as a real estate agent. She’s well aware that I am already searching for properties and fortunately she found an affordable one and recommended it to me. 

Everybody dreams of a big house but not everybody can afford it. The property I acquired is a house-and-lot property that is not sosyal-looking; a house only big enough for one person (or maybe two at maximum), and I am okay with that as it is a house that I can afford to pay monthly. . . na hindi ako mamumulubi at mangangapa saan kukunin ang pambayad.

I have yet to personally check the area and the property itself due to travel restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not a presell property but a reopened one, thus the house is already built and only needs some improvements before it can be set for occupancy. I was able to find model units through Google and Youtube, though (thanks to real estate agents who use social media and the internet to their advantage). Thus I was able to have a virtual tour and presentation of the property.

“So, ‘te, paano ginawa mo?”, one might ask. Call me stupid but I immediately searched for affordable properties and from there I learned what I need to learn before buying a property. Asking questions about the property you are eyeing to acquire would not hurt nor kill you and you’d be lucky enough to find real estate agents who’d gladly answer your questions, no strings attached.

A First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide to Buying a House (and Lot)

Your budget

While it is easy and fun to browse through properties on sale, browsing through is not the goal; to buy and own one is. Check and manage your regular cash flow and see how much of your funds you can allocate for property investment. I consider buying a house a big-ticket purchase; one that can be paid one-time off or for those who can’t afford it (like me), through installment/tenured payments. 

Vocabulary basics

TCP, MA, DP, PAF, property developer, spot DP. Are you familiar with these terms? If not, read on. These are just some of the basic terminologies you might need to know and might need to ask an agent about to assess a property that you are eyeing. Details about these factors may be openly stated by real estate agents on their posts and ads, but if not, do not hesitate to ask for “details po”.

Property developer – the company that leads and initiates a land development to build residential or commercial properties. 

Total Contract Price (TCP) – the value of the house and lot offered by the developer. 

Reservation fee – a required amount a property acquirer needs to pay to secure a unit/property.

Spot DP – a certain amount required by some developers that a property acquirer needs to pay upfront. 

Downpayment (DP) – the initial payment asked from you while your house is being built (if presell) or before moving in. This can be paid in full or in stretched payment schemed (12-24 months) 

Purchase Agreement Form (PAF) – an agreement you and the developer (represented by the real estate agent) enter into through a written form confirming the acquisition of a house-and-lot property.

Monthly Amortization (MA) – the amount you have to pay monthly after completing the downpayment. 

Turn-over date – the date on which a property will be transitioned to the owner for occupancy.

Loan tenor – the length of time when a borrower intends to pay for the loan he or she borrowed to pay for the house and lot he or she acquired.

Bank financing – when a property will be paid through a loan borrowed from a bank. 

Government housing loan – when a property will be paid through a loan borrowed from a government entity, i.e. PAG-IBIG or HDMF.

Ready for Occupancy (RFO) – when a property has been built to its bare or completed finish and is ready to be turned over to the owner and occupied anytime.

Your preferred property location

Metro Manila is too condensed and populated already that most available and affordable properties are sold outside of it. Properties are still sold within the metro but expect that the prices will be more expensive due to factors such as it is ready for occupancy, its proximity to business districts, markets, malls, etc. As of now, areas in Cavite, Batangas, Rizal, and Bulacan are the common and popular spots for property development.

Floor and Lot Area, Design and Floor Plan

Bungalow, Townhouse, multi-storey? Rowhouse, Cluster, or semi-detached? Should you go for a house and lot or a condominium unit instead? Are you okay with a property as small as 36 or 44 square meters or you want something as big as 80 square meters or bigger to accommodate a carport or to be allotted for house expansion? Do you mind the placement of the bathroom or the stairs or you’re okay with spending extra to demolish and move it somewhere else if you wish to renovate the unit to a look you prefer?  I consider this a major factor in buying a property. Heads up: Considering all these, #1 of this list will be affected.

The property developer

 This factor may not be a top-of-the-mind consideration for some but it would not hurt if one would also consider the company behind a real estate development. The prestige of the company’s name may or may not equate the quality of the house-and-lot projects but it’s still a factor that backs up if the project is worth investing in or not. 

The community

Most house-and-lot projects are situated and are planned to be developed in acres of land away from necessary amenities and facilities like markets, schools, and churches. Most if not all the time, these establishments may also sprout in the area eventually. You may want to consider the viability of a growing community in the location of your property, as not all land developments become successful in filling in house-and-lot units and just end up getting foreclosed or acquired by banks. (I added this because I remembered my father’s first attempt in acquiring a property when I was nine years old, the development was so promising but we ended up giving it up because everything was inaccessible to us. Just recently I searched about the subdivision and it is not thriving, twenty-one years since I last saw it.)

These are the factors I considered before I signed the papers to formally start the acquisition process of my house and lot. I am a newbie property acquirer so I may have missed some other things that need to be considered. 

If you have anything to add, please comment down below, and let’s help each other learn and become smart property “hunters”. 

Thanks for reading!

 Photo Credit: “Homeownership” by MarkMoz12 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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