Online house hunting: Are you doing it right?

You can find a house online and complete the purchase by meeting the developer or seller in person – all without the help of a broker.

Most people are so attuned to hiring brokers for everything – whether for buying insurance or a home – that it is difficult to conceive of a situation where a broker may be completely unnecessary to the process.

For instance, you can find your dream home by yourself, without hiring a broker. You can also find the best houses listed online, by dint of diligent searching. Online scouting for properties saves a lot of legwork and cuts searching time considerably. You can shortlist suitable properties and visit only those that seem worth your while.

Lately, there has been a rise in online portals catering exclusively to buyers who wish to purchase properties without having to pay brokers’ fees. Meanwhile, housing finance companies also extend house loans to several good properties, and they may also help you find suitable homes in the location of your choice. Housing finance companies can offer valuable advice on finding the right properties, how much funding is available on them basis your house loan eligibility and how to apply for the loan correctly.

So read up on our easy guide to online house hunting[1]:

* Scout for properties online. If you’ve never done this before, you would be surprised at how simple it is to find properties listed online. Tech savvy sellers are keen to find buyers quickly online, instead of enlisting the help of neighbourhood brokers to find leads. Apart from sellers listing their homes on property sites, you can also look for properties listed by developers advertising their projects on their company portals. A third avenue rests with leading housing finance agencies and banks – they also list several properties in several locations across the country. Additionally, properties listed by housing finance companies are funded by that company, so the house loanevaluation time is reduced by half at once. You can contact the sellers or developers on the numbers mentioned in the listing to get to the next stage of the process.

* Study the property. After contacting the seller or developer, it is time to visit the property in question and look at it carefully. A real estate developer will show you flats in their ongoing or completed projects. If the construction is still ongoing, you can view the sample flat. Take stock of the amenities being provided, whether the project has RERA registration, the current phase of construction as per timeline, the building and floor plans, etc. In case you are buying a resale property, make notes on whether you need to refurbish or repair part or all of the house, whether your existing furniture fits into the house as is, etc.[2]

* Study the property documents. Once you are convinced that you have found a suitable home, it is time to pay the booking amount on it. Payment of the booking amount does not constitute a final sale, but it indicates to the seller that they must close negotiations with other interested buyers till such time that they have the booking amount with them. Agree that the booking amount will be returned immediately if either party wishes to renege on the deal. After paying the booking amount, you can take a copy of the property’s documents and have them vetted by a lawyer. The lawyer can point out any lacunae (unclear title, missing chain of ownership) and you can have the same rectified before presenting the documents to the housing finance company. There is a list of property documents that the lawyer will ask for before advising you on going ahead with the purchase – ask the seller for the same.[3]

* Apply for the house loan. It is now time to apply for the house loan – ask for the application form and a list of supporting documents from the housing finance company. Meanwhile, use a house loan EMI calculator to find out your projected EMI outgo vis-à-vis the interest rates, tenure and principal amount of the loan. Some leading housing finance companies offer you the option of taking a floating rate of interest for the first few years of the loan, and then switching the remainder to a fixed rate of interest. Others offer a fixed rate of interest for a few years and then switching to a floating rate of interest for the remainder of the house loan – this results in a more affordable housing loan.[4]Be sure to pay the first instalment on the house, and get the sale agreement registered from the Registrar’s office. The housing finance company will only consider a registered sale agreement for the house loan application.

Leading housing finance companies have a short but detailed evaluation process for both your application and the property that you wish to buy. Do remember to take a schedule of all charges to be paid to the housing finance company: application processing fees, legal evaluation fees, stamp duty on the loan agreement, pre-EMI payment, etc.

Keywords: House Loan, house loan calculator, house loan emi calculator