Perhaps you’ve realized it is time to move out of your parent’s garage. Or maybe, you are moving into a new city for work. Whatever your reason, you found yourself in the real estate market, looking for a place to call your new home.
Before hunting up a flat for sale in Dubai, a flat for rent in New York, or a flat in whichever city you find yourself moving to, make sure you prepare appropriately. Check these seven things to ensure flat-hunting success.
Never rent a flat sight unseen. This one, hopefully, is self-explanatory. But equally egregious is leasing a flat you have only seen once. It takes a few visits before you can fully evaluate a flat.
Even if you fell in love with a flat, at first sight, that is no reason to sign the contract then and there. And even if you like a flat so much, make sure to keep your facial expression deadpan.
Do not gush and sigh and squeal in excitement whenever you see a feature you like. Otherwise, the realtor would likely turn up the pressure to get you to sign immediately by telling you the place is in demand by many people and is likely to get scooped up by her next showing.
Never are multiple visits more critical than when ascertaining a flat’s weather-worthiness.
Visit in a heavy downpour. You want to see if there are leaks anywhere in the flat when it’s raining heavily. This will also help you check if there is flooding in the area around the flat. You don’t want to realise after you’re all moved in that the block of flats gets flooded after receiving a severe amount of rainfall.
It would help if you also visited when it’s scorching hot or when the sun is out in full force. You want to check if the house is keeping cool even in such sweltering weather. You may also want to visit at another time of day, to see if the flat is getting enough natural light in the morning and in the afternoon.
Ideally, you want to check how the flat bears up under all sorts of weather conditions. Unfortunately, this is likely impossible. If it is the summer, you cannot wait for winter before committing to a lease. You’d probably need to move before then.
But you should at least cover as many bases as you can by making multiple visits, ideally in different weather conditions and at various times of the day.
You are unlikely to have the technical know-how to assess a flat’s electrical wiring. If you can, you should bring an electrician with you on a follow-up visit. But on your first visit, there are a few things you can check on your own.
First, you should bring something you can plug into electrical sockets (say, a mobile phone charger) to check if they are working. Check all of the sockets.
Next, you should see how many electrical sockets the flat has and if they are all conveniently located. Does it have a sufficient number of accessible sockets for your kitchen appliances, floor lamps, electronics, and other electrical fixtures?
Next, you can peek inside the electrical panel to see if different areas of the flat and specific power-hungry appliances have their own breakers. For instance, the space heater, the air conditioner, and the water heater should each be on a separate breaker to prevent electrical overloading.
Run the water in the kitchen sink, the bathroom basin, the shower, the bath, and any water closets to see if the water runs clear and odourless. You should also check how well the water drains off. Otherwise, you might miss clogging or poor grading and drainage issues. You should also definitely check the toilet by flushing it a few times.
One of the things you need to check on another visit is water pressure. If possible, schedule another visit to the flat when most of the residents in the high-rise are likely to be home. Then you can check if the flat has consistent water pressure even when there’s greater demand from more residents being home.
It would also be best to look under the kitchen sink to see how well-organised the pipes are. Look for and inspect the grease trap, too. And if you can, bring someone who has a little more specialised plumbing knowledge on your next visit.
One other thing you should check when inspecting a flat is insect and animal droppings. To do this, check under the beds, cabinets, and other furniture. You should also get a ladder or a step-stool and examine the tops of shelves and other high places.
Access and Neighbourhood
Explore the neighbourhood by going on a walk. This will let you assess walkability or how pleasant and safe it is to walk around the neighbourhood. Walking around the area should also help you get a sense of how accessible the place truly is.
In maps, a place could seem accessible and close to conveniences such as grocery stores and bus routes. However, there could be barriers to access that are not obvious on a map. Walking will let you discover such barriers.
Of course, if you have a car, you should also explore the neighbourhood by going on a drive. This way, you will see how accessible the community is by vehicle and how conveniently close it is to points of interest like shopping, dining, and entertainment destinations.
And speaking of access, you should bring a tape measure to check the widths of doors and entryways. You don’t want to be unable to move your big appliances into your flat on moving day.
Don’t be a statistic by falling for a sale or rental scam. Protect yourself by conducting due diligence when searching for a flat for sale or rent.
If you are renting or buying through an agent, find out who the landlord is. Then you should find a way to meet the landlord and inquire in person about his property listing. Of course, you should make sure the person you’re talking to really is the landlord.
Once you have the landlord’s name, you can also check property registries to see if official property records match the information you have.
And, of course, when it’s time to sign the lease or sale contract, make sure to obtain the help of a solicitor to go over your agreement, especially the fine print and legalese. The solicitor will be able to help you avoid potential contractual pitfalls.
Finally, when you pay your rent or deposit, make sure you get an official receipt. Never pay without getting an official proof of payment in return.
And There’s More
There are a lot more things you need to check before buying or leasing a flat. You need to check your budget to see if it would be sustainable to move into the flat you want or if you need to keep looking for a more practical option. You will also want to ensure you’re getting a place that’s reasonably close to your place of work.
But once you find a likely candidate, keep the above things in mind, and your flat hunting is much more likely to have a successful outcome.