Buying a house is the dream of many Jamaicans.
The housing market here in Jamaica is very tough, especially, if you don’t have up front cash to buy a house.
That’s why most Jamaicans get a mortgage to acquire a home.
So making the decision to take the lead and buy a home is a big deal, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Whether you’re buying a house in Jamaica for the first time with your significant other, or it’s just you and the plants in your studio apartment, there are some things to keep in mind when purchasing a home.
These are some things every first-time home buyer should know before purchasing a house in Jamaica.
1. Make sure you’ve thought this through
Do not purchase anything without thinking long and hard about whether or not it is necessary for you.
You will want as little debt as possible before owning a home, so don’t go spending money left and right.
Always consider how much of an obligation each thing is before bringing it into your house.
2. Focus on what you need not want
When looking for a home, think about what you actually NEED in a house rather than what you want in a house.
When not considering yourself, think about if your significant other or children would need certain things in the future.
For example, do you want an extra bedroom to turn into an office? It might be better to skip it so that you can have more room for activities later on when friends and family come over.
3. Even if you find a house you like, compare it to others in the area
Before making an offer on any property that interests you, research comparable properties in the area that have been recently sold or are currently up for sale.
This will give you an idea of what prices are reasonable and to be expected when buying this type of house at this location.
4. When you are ready to make an offer, have your real estate agent write up a contract
Your offer will be for the appraised value of the house so that you know what kind of return on investment you can expect if you were to sell it.
Your offer should show contingencies so that the sale is not final until certain conditions are met.
These conditions are items that have to be done before closing, such as repairs being completed, inspection being passed, etc.
If there is no contingency period in your contract then your purchase is considered “as-is” and it means that they do not guarantee any repairs or that they will fix anything and everything wrong with the home.
Make sure this type of clause does not put you in a bind if there are major damages to the property.
5. Never make an offer on a home without having your agent inspect it first
If something is wrong with the property, they will let you know so that you can either get it fixed before closing or back out of the contract altogether.
Since this is your first house, it would be smart to have someone experienced looking at it for you just to be safe.
6. Don’t forget home insurance
Insurance is a must have if you own a home, so be sure to get it before the purchase is final.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have an insurance inspection completed on the property as well because the house could still be covered for things that you aren’t aware of and don’t need to pay out of pocket for something that is already covered.
7. Control your impulses
Don’t buy anything that’s not included in your mortgage unless it’s extremely necessary or too good of a deal to pass up.
If you don’t need it then why bother spending money on something else?
8. Make there’s enough space
Make sure your home has adequate space for everything you want it to include now and in the future such as appliances, furniture, etc.
You do not want to get items that are too big for the space, especially if you live in an area with limited storage.
If you can’t fit everything inside your home, make sure the outside is spacious enough to accommodate your needs without having to build another room or buy another house.
9. Get energy efficient appliances
When buying appliances like refrigerators, washers and dryers, make sure they are energy efficient (or at least certified to be) because this will save you money on energy bills each month.
The Jamaica Public Service’s (JPS) monthly electricity bill can get out of hand really fast.
Make sure to check out JPS’s energy saving tips for Jamaican homeowners.
10. Check if there was any previous renovations
If you decide to buy a newly built home then it would be best to ask who made all of the renovations. This way you know exactly who to call if something goes wrong.
If buying a home that’s already built then hopefully it didn’t sit empty for too long because this could cause bigger problems down the road.
The longer something sits without being occupied, the more likely it is to have structural damage or other issues that you will have to deal with later on.
11. During the inspection pay close attention
When checking out your new home during your inspection make sure to look at things like the insulation, water pressure, heater/AC unit to make sure everything works properly.
Those are all things you don’t want to have repaired after moving in.
12. Consider the proximity to public transportation
If you’re living in an urban area then try looking for homes close by public transportation if possible so that you don’t have to buy a car or pay for gas.
Public transportation is great because it doesn’t require gasoline and some places even offer free rides on the weekends.
13. Check the Jamaica Parish Council before renting out your home
If you decide to rent out part of your home then make sure that this will not violate any city ordinances in your area that prohibit having too many occupants under one roof.
14. Remember the mortgage 25% rule
If you do decide to buy something with a mortgage then make sure that your monthly payment will not be more than 25% of your take home pay.
If it is, then you might want to consider buying something else instead because this could cause some serious financial problems down the line.
15. Don’t forget to make sure necessary safety precautions are implemented in the house
Before moving into your new home just review all the necessary safety precautions that need to be taken.
This includes unplugging any appliances before turning them on or even fixing loose handrails on stairs or decks for example.
Those are little things that many people forget about but can lead to big accidents if they aren’t attended too.