Planning to own a home in 2021? These steps will keep you on track

Wednesday January 13 2021
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Regardless of what one earns, they can own property if they plan well. PHOTO/Abubaker Lubowa

By SYOVATA NDAMBUKI

We’re in the first weeks of 2021, and New Year resolutions are still fresh in our minds, everyone is charged and focused on their goals. Probably, one of those goals is owning a home, developing your property or saving up for the future investments. But resolutions are meaningless if you don’t execute them.

If you plan to invest in real estate, it is important to know that it is not a one touch procedure. It is a series of decisions and actions that build up to something big. It requires patience, sacrifice and commitment. Below is a list of steps you can take to keep your home ownership journey on track in 2021.

Set a budget

Whether you make Shs600,000 or Shs6m, you have the potential to invest in property. What matters is how well you manage your money. There are all sorts of properties in the market suited for different pockets. Establish what you can afford, guided by your financial muscle. You can be as ambitious as you like, but be realistic when drafting your budget. While at it take note of hidden costs, such as lawyers’ fees and title deed transfer costs. Real estate investments are all about numbers, therefore you have to get your math right.

Once you come up with an attainable figure, determine means of acquiring the money.

Do you intend to save up, request for a loan or pay the seller in monthly instalments?

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Some are good at saving while others are not. Acknowledge your weaknesses and come up with a plan that works for you. Remember to set a timeframe, so that your goal does not take an eternity to t achieve.

In the property world, time is a luxury that many cannot afford, since prices fluctuate constantly.

Clear your debt

“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money; an observant person said. And the season in question just ended less than a fortnight ago. If you accrued debt over the festive season, start by clearing it before you start thinking of investing.  Debt will not only rob you of joy, but will also lead to unnecessary adversity with your creditors.

Besides, creating a culture of borrowing unnecessarily makes it impossible to save up for the future. You grow accustomed to debt and the stress that follows. Clearing your debt will help you establish your real financial capacity. In addition, you will be able to build great relationships with your creditors. Such relations go a long way in future when you need loans to finance your investments.

Conduct Random Site Visits

When you have a mental picture of what you are working towards, you will be motivated to work harder. Visiting locations that appeal to you is entirely different from conducting online research. You get to experience the actual location. It all feels more real and attainable when you take the step to visit the sites physically. Identify locations within your budget and make time to visit.

Do not limit yourself to one location, and be open-minded. Remember, site visits will give you the real picture of what you want to invest in, and you may end up changing your mind if you see something that you do not like at the site. It could be the long distance from the nearest town, lack of critical amenities or even hostile neighbours, therefore, research extensively and talk to agents if possible. Having a longer list of locations will help you make an informed decision.

You do not want regrets after all your hard work.

If you intend to buy a house (as opposed to land), create a list of what you want in one before you start the house hunting process. Most of the modern houses in the market are so appealing that it is easy to get carried away. Bring your list along and tick the boxes as you visit different properties. If you need to add or adjust your list, do so where necessary.

Build Your Purchasing Power

Feeling motivated already?

Site visits are the easier part of the journey. Building your purchasing capacity is harder and more frustrating. You will need to make a few sacrifices in your lifestyle - have you ever thought of conducting a lifestyle audit? This is the starting point. Establish whether you are living within your means and whether you can do without certain luxuries that you are accustomed to. Home ownership, as mentioned earlier, requires sacrifice. You cannot make any meaningful investments if you continue to live like a king when you are a merely the king’s aide. Downgrade where necessary and increase your ability to save. You may consider moving to a cheaper house, buying fewer designer clothes, cutting your utility bills, minimising your weekend outing and vacations or eating home-cooked and packed lunch at work. Do not underestimate these simple changes. They make all the difference.

If your household depends on two or more incomes, engage the other parties involved to ensure everyone is on the same page. Ancient and retrogressive attitudes about money, especially those surrounding gender roles when it comes to financial contributions in a home, can easily derail your progress. If the conversation about money is still an elephant in your household, engage a financial advisor or an investment consultant. A neutral and professional voice may be the much-needed game changer.

You may also consider clever ways of creating alternative incomes. It is a known secret that everyone in Kampala has a side hustle. Everyone wants to make an extra coin. You may consider joining the wagon if you still have free time on your hands. But this does not always have to be the case. If there are opportunities for growth in your current workplace, take advantage of them and grow your income. Career growth may also be the key to improving your buying capacity.

Get Visual Representations of Your Dream Home

Let us play pretend for a minute. Imagine you are a homeowner: What does your home look like? Is it calm, colourful, serene, sophisticated or simple. What are the theme colours in your living room? Do you have a patio, a kitchen garden or vibrant flowers in the compound?

Painting a mental picture of your dream home is not as easy as it sounds, and that is why architects exist. Architectural designs and blueprints are an integral part of the home-ownership process.Before constructing a home, you are required to submit professional drawings for approval. If you have already acquired a piece of land, you may start engaging an architect in advance. Ask them to capture your dreams through a professional drawing. You will also get a house model which acts as a super motivator. Seeing the ‘tiny house in the form of a house model will make you want to work harder and make the necessary sacrifices. If you still cannot afford an architect’s fees, you can always create a vision board to capture your dreams. You will obviously need to engage an architect in the long run, but a vision board will help you gain a clear picture of what you are working towards. Vision boards are created using paper cut-outs from magazines or printed paper. Look for images that represent different parts of your dream house and put them together on a board or in a book to paint a picture of your future home.

Audit your Social Circle

Did you know that you can only go as far as your company? The company you keep determines how far you go, in terms of investment. One of the most popular new year resolutions in Kenya entails “cutting off toxic people”. But it is not just the toxic people in your life that disrupt your growth. Surrounding yourself with narrow-minded people who never share ideas about investment may limit your potential. Bear in mind that input always equals output. The ideas you consume from others will determine your output, therefore conduct a social audit and upgrade where necessary. You do not have to cut off your friends, but you can enlighten them and change the conversations in your circle. Better yet, form an investment group and work towards investing in property. Such investment groups will also come in handy if you need guarantors for a loan.

Different financial institutions offer various investment accounts. Some will ask you to save towards a particular property while others will encourage you to open a blocked savings account with a definite target. Saccos, for instance, help you set budgets while offering low-interest loans.

Such investment vehicles help you stay focused on the big goal, however, be careful and research extensively before you hand your money over to an institution. In the past we have seen investment vehicles collapsing or even duping unsuspecting investors. Research on an institution’s history and talk to referrals first before committing your hard-earned money. There is plenty of information online and offline.


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