5 key points to check before buying your first property

As a first time property buyer, it can be tempting to rush headlong into the housing market. You are probably excited about and optimistic about specific amenities, low prices, ideal locations, proximity to shops or municipal hubs etc. However, long before making an offer to purchase and attempting to negotiate price, there are certain key points that must be considered. Here are some of them. 


Price consistency 

Did an apartment catch your eye? The first reflex to have is to compare it to similar properties on the market (i.e. those in the same geographical area and with equivalent characteristics). The goal? Determine if the price of the property that seduced you is fair and consistent. To do this, consult the real estate ads on the internet and in real estate agencies located nearby. You can also find, on Properstar, historical prices per m2 in the area, to see what dynamics your potential future housing fits into. 

The environment of the property 

Consider everything that surrounds your potential acquisition and may affect your lifestyle: 

  • Reputation of the neighborhood: Some areas have high potential, which can be beneficial for a potential resale in a few years, while in other neighborhoods, rates be quite "fixed". One strategy to help you is to type the name of the neighborhood into the search bar of the local newspaper. You will learn what is happening there now, what is planned, and what is being said about the streets in which you may one day live.

  • Schools, public transport, shops, parking, etc.: Your first acquisition must be  practical for your current and future life. Thus, if you buy as a couple and plan to have children, check in particular, the proximity of schools and their reputation. You will avoid a move or long trips when it comes time to register for school.

  • Potential nuisances: Check for the presence of a factory, a nightclub, a stadium, or passing planes, near the location. Some charming properties may see their value negatively impacted by noisy equipment and other inconveniences. For more information on this, type the address of the property of interest in Google Maps, and determine if any of these potential nuisances are in the vicinity of the home.

  • Demographics of the neighborhood: Is the location predominantly populated by elderly people, students, families with children? Talk to people who live near the property you want to acquire, to find out more about your potential neighbors.

Information from inspections and reports  

In a real estate purchase, different diagnoses, reports and inpections must be made available to you, by the seller. The most important thing? The Energy Performance Diagnosis (DPE), which tells you the energy performance level of the property you wish to purchase. It measures as follows: 

  • The amount of energy consumed; 

  • The level of GHGs released. 

Expressed in kWh of primary energy/m²/year, the results of these measurements assign two energy performance scores, ranging from A, for good students, to G, for housing. Thus, consider that an isolated and energy-efficient dwelling will have a rating of A or B, while another non-insulated, without double glazing for example will be rather towards F or G. 

Pay particular attention to the DPE, since it will allow you to evaluate your future annual energy consumption. It can also represent a lever for negotiation with the seller, explaining that work is essential to improve  and  maintain the performance of the home. 

The existence of easements - or not 

Possible easements of a dwelling can greatly impact its use. These can be of different kinds: like a right of way on your land, a gate overstepping onto a neighbor's plot, a buried pipe belonging to a local resident, and more.  Ask the real estate agent accompanying you and/or the former owner to specify these elements (which are more common in the purchase of a house rather than an apartment.) If an easements does exist, make sure that current neighborly relations are good, otherwise it could be very complicated, to arrive in the middle of a "war of neighbors"! 

Total cost of the acquisition 

Buying a home is not just about paying the price of the property. Before positioning yourself, take out your calculator and add up: 

  • The price of the house or apartment; 

  • Notary fees (7 to 8% for older homes, 3 to 4% in the new home market); 

  • The costs of any planned renovations or necessary improvements; 

  • The first months of any condominium fees;

  • The remuneration of the real estate professional who accompanies you, if you have used a "hunter". 

Armed with this estimate, turn to your bank: does it agree to finance the entire sum? What input does it require? What rates are offered? If the financing plan seems manageable on a daily basis and over time, do not hesitate to make an offer to purchase! 



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