Read previous article in Home Buying Guide series: 6 Steps to Comparing Real Estate Projects for Buying
Once you have shortlisted projects of your choice and have done basic property comparison to prepare a final list of projects, next step in property hunt process is site visits. The site visit phase is usually followed by legal review of projects to pick one to finally go ahead with for buying. So site visits are important from the aspect of being alert about what you are seeing, observing and feeling about a property. Asking important questions from the Builder and extracting as much information about projects during the visits. This can help in closing your home buying process faster.
Listed below is a step by step guide for everything related to site visits you should look into:
1. Scheduling Visits
With a day to day job, it may be difficult and hectic to manage site visits. Weekends have usually more rush for the same reason when more buyers flock to visit hot projects. You should do following:
-Insist builder for early morning or early evening visits(if you can leave office early) on weekdays – this can avoid peak hour traffic in commuting to project. You can spend more quality time with sales staff inquiring about important details. Also, insist on free pick up and drop – can help you avoid driving/commuting stress when you have a day long office ahead.
-First few visits to a project should always be carried out on bright sunny days when you can evaluate direction of towers, how much of natural light your floor plan of interest is receiving, construction of project(paint, seepages etc) and overall locality better.
1. Feel free to reschedule the appointment with the Builder if day turns out to be cloudy and not a bright sunny one. Can save time and you can spend the day in doing more online research instead.
2. For resale, if possible, it is advisable to do site visits in rainy season as well, helps you assess condition of seepage and water logging in locality/project.
-If you are scheduling visit over a weekend, do ensure you spend a good amount of time and make the most out of your visit. Confirm the appointment before you start as sales team usually gets very busy over weekends.
-Schedule reminder about site visit so that you can prepare your set of questions/clarifications in advance which you have to check with the Builder
2. Carry a Diary and/or a Smartphone
Always carry a notebook or diary to make a note of important observations during site visits. Alternatively, if you are good in jotting things on your phone, can rely on the same as well. Carry a phone with camera and video capability so that you can take photos and video at the site when required.
3. What to do at a property site?
-Understand project master plan. Builders usually have a model of entire master plan which gives a clear idea about overall layout.
-Check particularly the direction of towers/blocks which have the unit(1 BHK, 2 BHK or 3 BHK) of your interest.
Pro-Tip: Directions are mostly missing from model plans to not easily highlight your attention to towers which cannot receive enough sun light. Ask for exact directions when you see a model plan to get a clear idea about impacted towers.
-If there is a sample/model flat built by the builder, evaluate layout and architecture while checking the model flat. Ask questions about standard interiors – tiles, flooring, wall paint, sanitary fittings in bathrooms, kitchen fittings, quality of switch boards, geysers in bathrooms etc.
-Check if modification is allowed in standard architecture constructed by the Builder.
Pro-Tip: For under-construction projects, some builders are flexible in allowing modifications in layout. Bargain on this if you really want some modifications. After construction, any modification in floor plan may be difficult. Housing societies also object to any alteration later for preventing any damage to the structure of building.
-Carry out physical inspection of site and the particular tower/block of interest. Sales team of the builder will assist you in the same.
-Inspect clubhouse, gym and other recreational amenities to check how much area is allocated for the same and quality of amenities. Many projects do not do justice with number of flats in the project and area constructed
-If you are visiting a project in very early phase of construction, you may not be allowed to go to actual site for safety reasons. Spend more time understanding master plan and floor plans provided by the Builder. You can also check 3D images of floor plans for better understanding. Most of the builders get a 3D floor plan prepared for projects.
-Check Vastu compliance of floor plans if you are particular about direction of entrance, kitchen, master bedroom etc.
-Take photos and videos at the site of model flat, floor plans, amenities etc. This can help later in revisiting any of the site related details.
-Check your phone for signals. Make sure you are getting proper signal for calling as well as internet services in and around the property.
-Check what all is built or is going to be built along the immediate boundary of project – gives you an understanding of your future neighbourhood.
-Ask Builder about total cost of the unit you are interested in(including PLC, floor rise, car parking, possession charges, maintenance fees, Khata, Electricity/Water charges, GST etc). Also, check details around payment schemes. Extent of discount which can be offered, any upcoming offers etc. We will also cover how to carry out effective negotiations with Builder/Seller later in this guide series.
-Keep making notes for important observations in your diary/mobile.
4. Takeaways from site visits
-Build a mental plan and first impression about a project – what you liked, what you didn’t like.
Pro-Tip: Validate your thoughts with someone in your network who has already seen the particular project and done some evaluation in past. Always helps to know more from about a project from others and compare your analysis with them.
-Don’t rule out a project totally on the basis of first visit unless there are big put offs like size of project being too small, congested floor plans etc.
-Evaluate photos and videos of the site. Share with other known home buyers in your network for their feedback on what you experienced.
Pro-Tip: On the basis of total cost shared by Builder, calculate net sqft rate (Total Cost/Carpet Area) to estimate how costly the project is. Compare it with other projects when you go for respective site visits.
-Revisit your shortlisted projects and evaluate if you want to retain or drop the project you just visited from your research list.
5. Action items for builder
You should ask Builder to provide following:
-Copy of master plan and floor plan which you can evaluate further after your site visit
-Set of amenities – complete list and details around which ones are already developed or are to be developed. Especially evaluate the ones which are of your interest. Ex: whether badminton courts are going to be covered or open, will they have cemented flooring or wooden, swimming pool will be covered or open, will you get both car parking and two wheeler parking etc.
-List of compliances met and documents of the project for legal evaluation – approved construction plans, environmental clearance, fire NOC, commencement certificate, completion certificate, occupancy certificate etc. Complete list of property documents was discussed in this guide earlier.
Pro-Tip: Many builders ask you to first sign a token amount and then get access to property docs in detail. Do not agree to it. Insist on getting through analysis done first.
-Any open question which the builder could not answer or has asked time for revert. The builder should revert on the same by then.
6. Action items for you
-Evaluate if the project is falling in this checklist of not-to-invest projects. Don’t proceed further with a project if things are not transparent. Wait for the builder to chase you with more clarity on open items.
-Schedule more visits to evaluate other aspects of a project which you might have missed out in first project – flora and fauna, surroundings and things in vicinity of project – proximity from nearest market, school, hospital, workplace etc.
-Accompany your spouse or other stakeholders during visits to help get better insight and feedback about project from all angles.
-You can also ask a real estate expert or a property inspector to accompany you during the site visits. An expert can catch the points that might not be obvious to your eyes.
-Follow up with Builder on open items. Take contact coordinates – email, phone no. and contact Builder if you do not get a revert in stipulated time.
-If you have liked a project and have some inclination in going ahead, carry out a legal review process through a property lawyer – we will discuss more details about legal review in our next article of this guide series.
Overall site visits is the most important step and hence the most time consuming in the entire journey of home buying lifecycle. You need to be patient and carry these visits with great enthusiasm. This helps in knowing what exactly you are getting from the Builder in return of your hard earned money. After all, you don’t buy a house everyday in life!
Next article in our Home Buying Guide series will be around legal review of projects. Stay tuned and share your valuable feedback about this post in comments below. We will be publishing the next guide article shortly.
Read next article in Home Buying Guide series: The Ultimate Guide to Carrying Out Legal Review of Properties
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