Buying a house: What to consider during a viewing

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The photos look amazing, the location is wonderful and the price fits your budget. Happily, you’ve found your dream home. You’ve already set up an appointment to see the house – so now what? We’ll show you everything you need to know about buying a house.

Have the property valued

If you’re looking to buy in Switzerland, you’ll find many beautiful homes, but also some rather large price tags. Obviously no one wants to sell their house for less than it’s worth. But house prices are not always justified.

Your insurer or bank can check to see whether the sales price is appropriate. Mortgages are only granted for the real value of the house or apartment, not for the price that you actually pay for it.

If, for example, the house you want is appraised at CHF 1.2 million by your insurer, and you pay CHF 1.5 million, then you will have to pay the CHF 300,000 difference out of your own pocket.

In order for your bank or insurance company to be able to appraise the property, it will need blueprints, photos, the land register extract and information about its energy rating. This information is often already available in the sales documentation for the property.

If the published sales price varies greatly from the estimate by your insurer, you can have the house appraised by an independent party, such as a homeowners’ association.

Get confirmation of financing

Sometimes you have to act fast to get the house you want. This means you are at an advantage if you have already gathered together all the necessary documentation. As soon as you know how much the house you want is valued at, then you can secure financing.

Not only do you need enough money to buy the house, but your income needs to be sufficient to pay the mortgage. Your can use our AXA mortgage calculator to figure out both of these.

Based on this information, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage by your lender. Ideally your approval will be for the amount that you are prepared to pay for the property.

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Draw up a list of must-haves

As we mentioned in a previous blog article about home ownership, there are certain points you should watch out for when looking for your dream home. Make a list including all the points that your house or apartment must have, such as the number of bedrooms, a hobby room or a ground floor entrance. Then compile a list of things that would be nice to have – things that make you happy, but which you can do without.

When you visit the house, make a note of the things that will need to be renovated before you move in or in the first year. This amount will need to be added onto the purchase price.

The better prepared you are, the less likely you will get carried away and lose sight of your priorities because of the charming realtor or the delightful owner.

Tour and inspect the property

When you go view the house or apartment, pay particular attention to the condition it’s in. Before you buy, find out about its energy efficiency and other costs.

If you buy an old house, you could have to renovate it to update its energy efficiency. These costs also need to be included in your financing and could raise the purchase price by a considerable amount.

Explore the surrounding neighborhood

Obviously, your main focus is seeing the house or apartment. But be sure to takes some time to walk through the neighborhood. Take note of what the other houses look like. Is there parking for visitors? Is it noisy or in an area with odor emissions? Do other buildings or large trees shade the building? Depending on whether or not you have children, you will want to know if the area is child friendly.

Take the time to talk to people in the neighborhood if you get the chance. This lets you learn interesting things about your potential new neighborhood while meeting your new neighbors and getting a feel for the neighborhood.

Depending on where the house is located, you could also look into the construction plans for the community. This way you can find out if the beautiful green meadow across the street is suddenly going to become a high-rise apartment building. Or if the quiet residential street is slated to become a major road.

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Show your interest in buying the house

You like the area and the house and it’s within your budget. Great! Now all you have to do is get your offer accepted. But this is not always that easy.

If the property is going to the highest bidder, then you have to be that highest bidder. Oftentimes money is not the only consideration. Trying to schmooze your way with chocolate, flowers or other gifts can really backfire.

It’s better to show that you’re truly interested and exactly why you want to buy the house. A good way to do this is to write a letter. Appeal to the owner of the house or apartment by writing a brief letter introducing yourself and the rest of your family who will be moving in with you.

And make sure you have all the necessary documentation and financing ready. Make sure also to request any necessary documents that you need, such as information about usage or occupancy rights from third parties. Inquire about information regarding renovation and maintenance measures and the cost of this.

The main points of buying a house: Don’t rush things

Even though speed can be an advantage when buying a house, make sure you don’t rush into buying one. Before the option to purchase agreement is drawn up or before you actually buy the property, go visit it one last time. And you should go see it at a different time of day.

Consult your list of must-haves again. If larger renovations are necessary – for the kitchen, heating system or bathroom, for example – then get an estimate for these costs.

Make a list of all potential costs, including interest, maintenance and amortization. Compare this to your income. Remember to consider whether you might be working part-time in the future, such as if you plan on having children. And think about what insurance you will want, such as death and disability. You must be absolutely realistic about how much you can afford. Don’t saddle yourself with a financial burden that you won’t be able to sustain in the future.

If you prepare yourself well, then you will soon be able to call your dream house home.

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