Buying a home – what you need to know
August 12, 2020
There is more to buying a house than just the exchange of money. Buying a home for the first time can be a learning journey. There are terms to understand, strategies to grasp and sometimes even skills to learn. Many individuals save for years if not decades to be able to purchase a home. In that time, they would have figured out the design of the house, the number of rooms and even the location. For others, this may not always be the case and it becomes imperative that consumers know all there is to know before placing a deposit or a down payment on a new home.
The home buying checklist
Before purchasing a home, it is important for consumer to consider the following:
- Take stock of your personal finances – one of the first steps to consider before purchasing a home is to gauge your personal finances and whether you can afford the home you intend to purchase. It is always a good idea to review credit history. The better your credit history, the more likely you are to receive a good interest rate on your mortgage loan. Lenders will use your credit reports and scores as important factors in determining whether you qualify for a loan, and what interest rate to offer you. If you have a bad credit history, you may have trouble qualifying for a loan.
- Research the local market – scope the market and determine the conditions of the area where you will be buying. Always check if there are big shifts in the asking price for homes that are in your price range.
- List your priorities – once you’ve determined you can afford a home; you can search with listings within the areas you wish to purchase. Always list down your priorities such as what you want in a home and its locality.
- Get the necessary paper work – purchasing a home always involves a contract. You will work with your lender and your real estate agent to ensure that all of the relevant paperwork for your purchase is in order.
- Inspect homes – before making an offer it is always important to inspect the homes. This helps you determine whether the asking price is worth it or whether you will be required to fork out more money for repair works.
- Check the roof condition – roof replacements cost a significant amount of money and it’s important to verify whether this is in good condition before buying.
- Signs of foundational damage – if a foundation of a home is damaged it will cost thousands in repairs. Look for signs like cracking near the foundation inside and outside the home.
- Potential for flooding – the closer the home is to the water the more likely you are to experience problems with flooding. It is therefore important to consider the proximity of homes to a body of water.
- Mold, weathering and water damage – check cabinets for signs of mold growth around pipes. This may indicate a leaky plumbing system, previous flooding or improper ventilation.
- Insulation and energy efficiency – the better the insulation of a house, the less you have to spend on utility costs when it comes to heating or cooling throughout the year.
Fiji’s First Home Buyers Initiative
Started in 2014, the first home owners initiative was launched to provide affordable and quality housing for all Fijians and to increase home ownership across the country for low and middle-income earners. This financial year (1st August 2020 – 31st July 2021), the Government announced the resumption of the initiative and an increase in the amount of grant provided to consumers. Consumers intending to purchase a home can take advantage of this grant.
To be eligible for the grant, consumers intending to apply need to:
- have a total household income of $100,000 or less
- be a Fijian citizen
- be above the age of 18
- have never previously purchased a home
How to apply
Consumers can apply through banks, the Housing Authority or the Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) using the application forms listed on the Ministry of Housing and Community Development website. Documents to accompany the application include:
- Declaration of income and salary slip
- Birth certificate
- Certified copy of photo identification
- Marriage certificate if applicable
- Title/deed search note from the registrar of titles
- Taxpayer identification number letter
- FNPF number
Certified registered lease of certificate of title (Those holding land documents such as Tenancy at will, Agreement for lease and Vakavanua land arrangements will not qualify)
To raise concerns, consumers are urged to contact the Council on toll free number 155 or lodge a complaint through the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app. Alternatively you can also email firstname.lastname@example.org