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How can I get a good deal buying a new home?
Are resales less expensive than new houses?
How do I prepare to buy a home?
How important is lot size?
How important is property location?
What characteristics define the perfect home?

How can I get a good deal buying a new home?

A common complaint of buyers of new homes is that they have no opportunity to negotiate the purchase price. Most developers set their prices and stick to a "take it or leave it" approach. It's rare to find a developer who's willing to discount the price to make a sale.

Developers sell homes in a new project as soon as a few homes are built, using the first homes built as samples for prospective buyers to preview. When you're previewing model homes make sure that the salesperson explains what is and is not included in the base price. Then, if you're interested in upgrading, ask how much it will cost. You may want to upgrade from Formica kitchen counters to granite. The builder's upgrade cost probably won't be a bargain price. If the price is too exorbitant, find out what it would cost to change to granite countertops on your own at a later date.

TIP: Although it may not be possible to negotiate the purchase price on a new home, you may be able to negotiate on the price of upgrades, particularly if the development has a standing inventory of unsold homes. But before you buy a home that the builder has been unable to sell, find out why it hasn't sold. If the property has a defect, like a location on a busy corner, it might not be a bargain if it will be difficult for you to resell the property later.

Developers prefer to give buyers credits that can be applied to the cost of upgrades rather than reduce the purchase price. If the developer lowers his price in order to sell, this may have a negative effect on the price he can ask for homes in future developments.

To get the best deal on a new home, make sure you're buying from a reputable builder who is known for building quality homes.

Are resales less expensive than new houses?

In Pafos only one out of five home buyers purchases a resale. A resale is a house that is not new and that has had at least one previous owner. It's usually less expensive to buy an old resale than it is to buy a brand new house--if you consider the purchase price alone.

Sometimes you may find that resale homes are more expensive than new homes. Resale homes in established neighbourhoods usually have the benefit of mature landscaping and other additions such as barbeque, covered verandas, air-conditions, satellite dishes and more. New homes projects often look sterile by comparison.

How do I prepare to buy a home?

Home buyers are often plagued with anxiety. Home buying is something most people do infrequently and the rules of the game are constantly changing. The process involves making a huge investment--the biggest one most people make in their lifetimes. Some buyers fear they'll make a huge mistake. Others worry that they won't find the right house for their money.

One way to cut down on the uncertainty is to go about home buying just as you would any other important business endeavour--in an organized and systematic fashion. The first step is to make sure that buying a home is the right thing for you to do at this time in your life. The answer to this will vary from one buyer to the next, and you may want to consult with our group of companies before making this important decision.

Once you decide you're definitely in the home buying market the next steps are to line up the financing, decide what you want and need in a home. If you do not have the cash you will need for your purchase, it's wise to get pre-approved for a mortgage. Start this process before you begin looking for homes to buy. This way you won't waste time looking at properties that are out of your price range. Once you're pre-approved, you'll know exactly how much you can afford to pay. Pre-approval also helps you in negotiations with sellers because it removes any doubts they might have about your financial capabilities.

TIP: Make sure that the cash you'll need for a down payment and closing costs is liquid. One buyer discovered he couldn't afford to buy the home he had spent months searching for because his down payment money was in the stock market and the value of his stock had dropped. Also, if you're counting on financial assistance from relatives, make sure that this money is readily available. Don't wait until the last minute to arrange for this important matter. To determine what kind of a home you're looking for, make a list of all the characteristics you want and need. Also list those things you don't want. For instance, you may need three bedrooms, two bathrooms and either a formal dining room or a large kitchen/family room. You'd like to have a view and you definitely don't want a fixer-upper.

How important is lot size?

The price a buyer will pay for a home depends on many factors including current market conditions, interest rates, the size and condition of the property and the property location. The land that a residence sits on also affects the property's value. You might assume that the larger the piece of land, the more a buyer will pay for it. But when it comes to land value, bigger is not always better.

The utility of a lot can outweigh the importance of its size. For example, a house situated on a large piece of property that is very steep might sell for less than a similar house that's on a flat lot. Home buyers often prefer properties that allow for easy indoor-outdoor living and provide level areas for children or elderly people, pets and gardening. A steep lot provides none of this and in some cases it can create a maintenance headache. Homes on sloping lots can sell for a premium, however, if there are other compensating factors like a secluded setting or a magnificent view.

A critical factor in lot valuation is the size and character of typical lots in the area. In a subdivision where all the homes are on flat lots, the ones with the largest, usable yards usually command the highest prices. Homes that are located on lots that are smaller than what's typical for an area often sell for less.

One homeowner whose home was on a lot that was small for the neighbourhood had a hard time selling even though she hired a decorator to stage the property inside and out. The lot was about 150 square meters (1615 square feet) smaller than the other lots in the neighbourhood. So, even though the home was well-located and had considerable charm, buyers discounted its price because of the small lot and minimal yard.

The importance of lot size depends on what prospective buyers want and need. Buyers with small children usually want sizable level yards that are easy to get to from the house. Busy professionals with no children often prefer small yards or decks because they require less maintenance.
Price range also plays a part. In the higher price ranges, the concept of owning land becomes an issue, so buyers usually want bigger lots. In expensive neighbourhoods buyers often pay a premium price for a home that's on a larger than average-size lot. A large mansion with minimal land--perhaps because the property was subdivided over the years--can be difficult to sell.

TIP: It's wise to consider the resale potential of a property before you buy it. You may find that homes with low maintenance lots and a sense of privacy are in the highest demand. In this case, lot size is not that important. But, a home that's on a substandard lot may be difficult to sell in the future if buyers perceive this to be a defect.

Market conditions enter into the equation. When the inventory of homes for sale is low and buyer demand is high, buyers are usually willing to make more concessions than they would in a market that's bloated with inventory.

How important is property location?

In London , property values are booming, however, values of homes in outlying areas lag behind values in more central zones. Their inaccessible location makes them less desirable.

Some outlying boroughs are benefiting from the current extension of the Underground subway system. In areas newly served by the Underground, property values are jumping. A London paper recently reported that the addition of an Underground station within a 15 minutes' walk of a property increases property values by up to 20 percent.

The same phenomenon occurs in Cyprus . Property values tend to rise in neighbourhoods where new projects became available and increase the demand of properties. For example, in Coral Bay and Pegeia area, property values are booming from the time when the new marina construction has been announced.
Locations within a community can affect a home's value. For example, a location that's within walking distance to the beach, transportation or shopping can add value to a property. But, if your home is located too close to either shops or transportation, this can lower value.

A location next to a busy freeway or on a heavily travelled road can lower property value. Most home buyers prefer a quiet location without street noise and traffic congestion. Within subdivisions, some locations are preferable and, therefore, more valuable than others.

TIP: Find out as much as you can about the desirability of a location before you buy. Talk to neighbours who live in the area to find out if there are any location factors that might effect property value that you should be aware of.

Pay attention to how well-maintained the neighbour's homes are in the area immediately surrounding the one you're considering. A well-maintained neighbourhood shows that owners take pride in their homes.

A growing economy, like the economy of Cyprus , creates jobs, and with employment comes a demand for housing. When the demand for housing exceeds the supply, there's an upward pressure put on home prices. This often leads to home price appreciation which benefits local property owners.

What characteristics define the perfect home?

Choosing the right home to buy is extremely important. Your home is your sanctuary from the outside world. It's the place where you relax and enjoy life with your friends and relatives. Buying the wrong home will cause you to want to move again. This takes time, not to mention money.

Studies have shown that most buyers make their home buying decisions based on price and location. In addition, today's buyers want new or updated kitchens and bathrooms, spaciousness, a family room or great room off the kitchen, a home office and good natural light.

Modern conveniences, energy efficiency and low maintenance are more important to today's home buyers than they were in years past. Not only do buyers want a home office; they want it equipped with extra electrical and phone outlets and a high-speed data line, if possible. Most homes can be retrofitted for modern amenities, but with little free time to spend on home maintenance, buyers pay a premium for homes that are in move-in condition.

Other features that define a perfect home are: a bathroom on each living level; a flexible floor plan with adequate room for public and private activities; a floor plan that flows (that is, one where you don't have to walk through rooms to get to other rooms); easy access from the house to a low-maintenance, private yard; an attached garage with inside access to the house (ideally to the kitchen); plenty of storage space; a security system; quality construction; architectural distinctiveness; a formal entry; a conveniently located laundry room; and a nice master suite.

Before you start looking for your ideal home, make a list of all the features you need and want in a home and focus on the features that are the most important to you.

TIP: Even though you're looking for a certain set of characteristics in a home, the ambience of a home is what will probably cause you to buy it.

Getting ready to buy a home, detach yourself emotionally and analyze how the place measures up to your wishes. You need to feel comfortable in a home, so the ambience is important, but not at the expense of your critical housing needs. Sometimes you have to make snap decisions about whether or not to buy a home. So get into the practice of analyzing every listing you see in terms of your housing needs.

The perfect home doesn't exist, so be prepared to make some compromises.

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