Buying Property Online? Know the ABC’s of Safe Business Transactions

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The internet has made it easy for consumers to engage in business transactions. You can buy furniture with just one click. You can have appliances delivered right at your doorstep with one swipe. But with the sophistication of technology today, it’s not just home essentials that are one button away. It could be your dream home.

Here at Lamudi, we’re dedicated to making property-buying more convenient. We want to reduce the stress in searching and connecting with sellers and brokers. But at the same time, we recognize that just like traditional transactions, online business transactions carry risks. While the latter is a lot more convenient, it’s still critical to be wise buyers when purchasing something as important as a home.

Here are the ABC’s of online transactions:

Ask to see the property

“Will we ever reach a point where people would buy property the way they buy food from Food Panda or they buy a shirt from Lazada?”

The question was raised in The Outlook: Philippine Real Estate Conference 2019, and the answer, according to one of the panelists, is this: “That final decision, that final reservation or down payment is not going to be done without a human person there assuring them that this property is there.”

A home is a big purchase, if not the biggest you’ll ever make in your life. This is true even for renters, who will need to pay for the deposit and the advance before they can move in. After you have found the property of your dreams on a reputable platform, go to the actual location and see it for yourself. You really can’t do away with this step, despite the legit-looking photos and perhaps virtual tours you see online. Remember, an online marketplace is a tool for narrowing down your property options and connecting to sellers. To be sure that there is a property waiting for you, see it in real life before moving to the steps involving money. 

Arrange a schedule of meetup and unit showing with the agent. Reputable brokers will gladly give you a tour and answer your questions about the property. The opposite happens for tricksters, making it hard for you to see the ‘property’ they’re selling, and instead pressuring you to decide without due diligence because the property might sell out soon. 

Be proactive in your visit

Once you see the place, be very observant of the property. Take notes, including the property and lot dimensions, first impressions, and repairs or renovations needed. If you can record your first impressions as well, that will come in handy in your decision-making later. When you step into the property, ask yourself, “Do you feel at home in this house?” 

Take pictures and pay attention to ‘red flags’. If you find peeling paint, faulty doorknobs, or cracked walls, snap photos or videos of them. This will be helpful in remembering details of the houses you visit, and in comparing properties by considering the repair cost estimates. They will also come in handy for negotiations with the agent later.

Consider your finances carefully

After you’ve decided that you want to go for a specific property, it’s time to pay for it. Before you put your money down or sign anything, ask the broker for the complete list of fees involved. Some of the things you should expect are the reservation fee, down payment, and monthly amortization. Take note of the payment scheme as well.

Now, while there are lots of channels in making your payments, banks are still the most reliable, compared to money-transferring apps. You can have a paper trail of everything and check it every now and then. Also, it’s reassuring to see your money go to a reputable, established financial institution, right?

Document everything

Remember, the online property marketplace is a good tool for property search, but when it comes to the actual buying journey, what you need is physical and legal paperwork. Do your due diligence so that you will have sufficient protection for any possible lawsuits in the future or solid evidence for a claim against the seller or agent later, if ever.

One document you need to keep is the letter of intent or offer to purchase, which outlines the details about the transaction, such as the date of the offer, description of the property, and of course, the price you’re offering and other financing information. Another document you need to have is the reservation agreement. The broker will offer you this, ensuring that the property you selected will be reserved and taken out of the market. Meanwhile, a contract to sell will be issued to you after you’ve paid the initial down payment. The deed of absolute sale, on the other hand, will be given to you after you fully paid your home.

Be Safe when Transacting Online

Online property platforms have taken the hassle out of the search for dream homes. But of course, the actual purchase is going to take some real, hard work. As you look for your next home sweet home, exercise caution. Be safe. Be wise.

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