Thursday, 30 June 2016

How to sell your house for more

Find out how to get more for your house in a sluggish market where the buyer is king

The housing market is still looking grim. A report by Mumbai based property research firm Liases Foras estimates that the unsold inventory in eight top cities rose by 22% in 2015-16 (see graphic).In the Mumbai Metropolitan Region alone, around 2.26 lakh apartments are lying unsold. In the National Capital Region, the unsold inventory rose 12% from 322 million sq ft in March 2015 to 361 million sq ft in March 2016. Assuming a flat size of 1,200 sq ft, that's more than 3 lakh units lying unsold in what was once regarded as the hottest real estate market in the country .

While this may be heartening news for prospective buyers, it spells trouble for those on the other side of the table.With builders saddled with so many unsold flats and demand not picking up, people who wish to sell their property face an uphill task.

However, there is a silver lining. With increased concerns around delays by developers in handing over possession of new properties, buyers are increasingly looking at ready-to-move-in or resale properties. Interest in the lowand mid-income housing segments has picked up recently. Liases Foras found that in the top eight cities, the sales of budget homes--priced between `25-50 lakh--rose 13% from a year ago. If you are struggling to find a buyer for your house, here are a few steps that can help seal the deal.

Spruce up your home to boost its value
Before you go hunting for a buyer, make your house attractive. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer: Wouldn't you be put off by cracks in the wall, peeling paint and washrooms that don't work? The prospect of putting in more on home repairs can be a deal breaker.You may have to shell out some money to spruce up the place, but it will add more to the value of your house and give you an edge when you negotiate the price. “Even a fresh coat of paint can add value to a house,“ says Anuj Puri, Chairman & Country Head, JLL India.

Finding the buyer
Finding a buyer is not a straightforward task. How you approach the sale will influence what type of buyers you attract and how long it takes to close the deal.First decide if you want to use a broker or do it on your own. Brokers will charge 1% of the value of the house. If that is not acceptable, go it alone but be prepared to do a lot of running around, including arranging for the registration and legal paperwork. Experts recommend exploring both routes simultaneously . “The wider the net you cast, the better your chances of catching the right fish,“ says Gulam Zia, Executive Director, Knight Frank India.

Start in your immediate vicinity.People currently living on rent in your neighbourhood, or permanent residents looking out for a place nearby for their relatives would provide a ready catchment of prospective buyers.“Your first `interested' home buyers may very likely be generated from notices put up in your housing society,“ says A.S. Sivaramakrishnan, Head­ Residential Services, CBRE South Asia.

Online housing aggregators help attract buyers directly . List your house on at least a couple of portals. “The seller must be available on multiple platforms as this is where buyers are undertaking initial research,“ says Anurag Jhanwar, Head, Consulting a n d D at a I n s i g h t s, P ro p T i g e r.Jayashree Kurup, Head of Content and Research, Magicbricks, says, “Buyers are increasingly looking at individual listings on the portal, preferring to negotiate directly with the seller.“

However, a broker with local expertise would be the best placed to generate relevant leads and will also be able to help out with formalities.

Valuing your property
Pricing is critical for the deal. Make a reasonable assessment of the value of your property . A broker can help you here because he is aware of the market trends. If you are not using a broker, find out the sale price of similar properties in the area. Online property portals are helpful, but the information they provide can often be dated and therefore, misleading. A sluggish market warrants making a competitive offer.

Zia warns, “A fairly sizeable residential inventory will be hitting the market in coming months as developers release completed projects with the new Real Estate (Regulatory and Development) Act coming into play .“ Kurup also warns sellers against waiting for prices to inch up. “In many regions, it will take at least another two years to clear the excess inventory . With new stock coming in, the chances of getting the best price on your house look slim.“

If you want to sell quickly, give a discount of at least 5% to hasten things up. Be flexible in your negotiations and don't get anchored to a price point you may have seen some time ago. “The buyer must see the value in the deal.Sticking rigidly to your price may put off prospective buyers,“ warns Puri.However, you can insist on a premium in certain situations. For instance, if an existing flat owner in the same building or society shows interest in your flat, you are in a better position to demand the price tag you seek.

Do keep in mind that property should not be sold in a hurry unless you are in urgent need of funds. “Real estate is not a liquid asset. You need to give it a reasonable timeframe to close a deal,“ says Puri.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Looking to purchase a house? Here are 4 Real Estate terms you must know

1) Covered Area
The total area of home that comes under single roof is called covered area.

2) Carpet Area
The actual area of home that is used minus wall thickness. To put it in layman terms, area of the apartment where carpet can be spread easily is called carpet area.

3) Built-up Area
The total area that includes carpet area, terrace area, walls and ducts area, balcony and thickness of outer walls is called built-up area. This area is about 10 percent more than the carpet area.

4) Super built-up Area
The area that falls under common space such as stairs, lift, corridors etc. is called super built-up-area. This area is generally 25 percent more than built up area.

So, when a real estate agent is selling you in an apartment of about 1800 sq ft, it doesn’t mean that you avail complete 1700 sq ft for personal use. The area that is generally offered is super built-up area and not the carpet area.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

REITs to be a reality, first listing in next 12 months: CBRE South Asia CMD Anshuman Magazine

NEW DELHI: Real Estate Investment Trusts(REITs) could become a reality now and the first listing is expected in the next 12 months after markets regulator Sebi today eased norms to attract realtors and investors, according to property consultants. 

REITs would bring in the much required liquidity in the real estate market with expected investment from retail and institutional investors, he added. 

The relaxation is aimed at allowing these Trusts to invest more in under-construction assets and have a larger number of sponsors. 

"With this further easing of norms, I hope that REITs will now become a reality. Introduction of REITs in Indian real estate market will be a game-changer, especially in the current market situation," property consultant CBRE South Asia CMDAnshuman Magazine told PTI. 

REITs would bring in the much required liquidity in the real estate market with expected investment from retail and institutional investors, he added. 

JLL India Country Head and Chairman Anuj Puri said: "This is very pro-active and progressive of Sebi to understand and act on the requirements of developers and private equity to incorporate the changes allowing REITs to become a reality." 

Puri added: "The changes proposed by Sebi will help in easing the process and the first REIT would come in the next 12 months." 

According to EY Tax Partner, Real Estate practice, Maadhav Poddar, increasing the limit of investment in under-construction assets to 20 per cent from the current 10 per cent allows more flexibility to select SPVs and projects to be put into an REIT and reduces the time and transaction costs involved in a prior restructuring. 

Removing the restriction on the SPV -- only in the case of such SPV being a Holding Company -- to invest in other SPVs holding the assets ensures that existing structures can as such be migrated into REITs rather than first restructuring the shareholding, he added. 

"Both of these were specific asks of the industry and would go towards hastening listing of the first REIT," Poddar said.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Number of women home buyers rising

More and more working women in metros are opting to buy property these days

Though few women have ventured into the con struction business, they are very much involved in purchasing property. According to a study conducted by a renowned housing portal, around 45 per cent of working women, especially in the agegroup of 25-40 years, are primary buyers of real estate in Mumbai. Be it 2BHK or 1 BHK, or a studio apartment, owning a house has become more of an ambition than a dream for women today. There are several factors that have compelled them to go for a house purchase, some of which include the need for security, making an investment, living close to the workplace and tax benefits.

Owning a flat certainly gives one a security in life. Considering this, many women wish to have their own property to live a secure life. It is observed that number of single women look forward to have a house of their own.Thirty-two year-old Meenakshi Sabnis, who has just completed the paperwork for a 1-BHK apartment that she has bought in Vashi, said, “It was my aim to have my own house some day, and I am happy that I have fulfilled it. I decided to own property because even if my marriage fails, I will have my own house where I can live independently without being a burden on my family.“ She further adds, “I started to save money since five years and now with the help of home loan, I have finally managed to buy a house.“

Good investment option:
If having a job makes women self-reliant, buying a house from the hard-earned money proves to be a good investment option. It has been seen that investment in property provides better returns than fixed deposits, mutual funds or other investments. Also lack of adequate knowledge about other investments options, say like stock market, makes women put their money in realty. Unlike stocks, it doesn't lose value overnight.

Easy accessibility to workplace:
A number of women travel far to reach their workplace. Moreover, many jobs today require women to stay late in office and this becomes easy if they live close to the office. Also women who migrate from their hometown to settle in the city for work, they prefer to buy a house than to live on rent if one can afford it.

Tax benefits:
Another factor that induces women to buy property is that it enables them to save tax by going for home loan. Most women who work at higher positions receive hefty pay package which implies paying more tax. A home loan proves to be a saviour as it provides the single biggest tax break.Also, a single homeown er will enjoy more tax advantage than a married couple who buy jointly.

Real estate experts say that independent women have changed the demography of home buyers, which was male dominated till late.Mukesh Shah, a real estate agent, says, “Every day I show houses to around 10 home buyers of which three to four will be women client. They look for homes that have a good and safe location. I believe that it is more to safeguard the future that induces women today to own property.Also, they are well-versed with the legal requirements while purchasing property, housing rates, and other terms and conditions. Considering that female workforce is large in every sector, it is not surprising that women are making such decisions.“

With the launch of mobile apps and online websites, it is no more a difficult task to gain information about developers and their projects, and hence it is now easy to zero in on the house of one's choice. However, experts believe that it is ideal for women property buyers to approach local brokers than to depend on online sites. “Besides purchasing property from a good developer, it is also important to approach local brokers of the area as only they know the area thoroughly.Also, before sealing the deal, a woman buyer should thoroughly check out the location and neighbours, and should visit the place late in the evening to check whether there is enough crowd or the place is completely isolated,“ advises Yashwant Dalal, president of the Estate Agent Association of India.

Furthermore, keeping the demand in view, some developers also introduce lucrative schemes and discounts for women to encourage them into property purchase. Not just in Mumbai, the rise in the number of women property buyers is witnessed in other metros as well. Though they make a small percentage, their growing numbers is likely to change the perspective of this male-dominated sector.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Service tax on purchase of specific under construction flats: pay or not to pay?

High Court held that the service tax is only payable on the value of services and not on the value of land.

In the wake of rising cost burden of home buyers, comes a ray of hope in the form of a recent decision of the Delhi High Court in the case of Suresh Kumar Bansal Vs Union of India & Others 2016-VIL-284-DEL-ST. The High Court held that in a scenario where the price of under construction flats includes the cost of land, no service tax shall be payable.

Summary of High Court's decision
High Court held that the service tax is only payable on the value of services and not on the value of land. The mechanism for ascertaining the value of services (by excluding the value of land) involved in such contracts should have been provided either under the Finance Act, 1994, or the Rules issued under the said Act. In absence of any mechanism within the Act or the Rules to exclude the value of land, no service tax can be imposed on consideration of under construction flats wherein the value of land is included in such consideration. The High Court further held that even though an abatement of 75% is given by a notification, it cannot substitute the lack of statutory machinery provisions in the Act or Rules framed in this regard. Considering the above, petitioner was allowed refund of tax already paid along with an interest of 6% from the date of deposit till the date of refund. The above judgment of the High Court pertains to a period before July 2012.

Applicability of the above judgment under the current law 
From July 2012, a radical change was introduced in service tax wherein all services except certain services specified in the Negative List, were subjected to service tax. However, even from July 2012 and till date, the Act and Rules pertaining to service tax do not contain any provision for exclusion of value of land. An abatement is provided vide a Notification and, therefore, the legal situation from July 2012 till date is exactly same as was there in the above judgment. Thus, by drawing analogy from the above judgment, from July 2012 onwards, no service tax was payable on the under construction flats where the consideration for such flats included the value of land.

It is likely that the Central Government will file an appeal before the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court stays the order of the High Court, the ruling would not have any operation and the matter would be settled only after the decision of Supreme Court.

Possibility of refund of service tax already paid?
Petitioner has been allowed refund by High Court along with interest at 6% p.a. Other home buyers may also apply to the tax authorities for refund of the service tax paid by them on purchase of under construction flats.

Home buyers would not get the refund of service tax from the builders, as the service tax collected by them must have already been deposited with the service tax authorities. Accordingly, approaching the builder for refund for service tax may not work.

Future Outlook
Anticipating an appeal by the Central Government to Supreme Court, builders are likely to continue charging service tax from buyers because in case the Supreme Court rules in favour of the revenue then the builders would be required to pay service tax along with interest. In a scenario where such tax has not been collected by them, the same would be a cost to them along with interest.

One possible solution, which might be acceptable to both the builders and home buyers, is opening an escrow account wherein buyers can deposit service tax amount subject to the condition that if the High Court's decision is overruled by the Supreme Court, the builders can use the amount for payment of service tax. However, the interest liability would always be an issue in this case. If the High Court's judgment is upheld by the Supreme Court, then the amount will be refunded back to the customer from escrow account.

Till the time the Supreme Court decides the said issue, ambiguity regards levy of service tax on such contracts will exist despite Delhi High Court's decision. Taking note of the observations of High Court, Central Government may make suitable amendments in the service tax law so as to insert a proper mechanism for ascertaining the value of service portion in such contracts.
Thus, inspite of favourable judgment of the High Court, possibility of relief to be extended to the home buyers looks challenging.

(By Abhishek Jain, Tax Partner, EY India)

Thursday, 16 June 2016

AREA celebrates its 19th Foundation Day today

AREA celebrates its 19th Foundation Day today

Its gonna be a full house tonight
Terapanth Bhavan ( Kandivali )

Monday, 13 June 2016

YOUR HOME PURCHASE transaction enablers

With World Broker’s Day commemorated earlier this week, two association heads share views with Vijay Pandya on how their significance and role have evolved over the years

Concrete Perspective
Vijay Pandya

Ramprasad Padhi,
President, Association of Real Estate Agents
Traditionally the role of a broker or as the modern day avatar known as realtor, was more of an exercise of showing properties and making buyer and sellers meet. But the modern day broker is evolving and keeping in tune with the times. The role is evolving from that of just finger pointing to being a true consultant in every sense.They need to have all round knowledge of not just real estate but all peripheral areas like housing finance, property laws, insurances related to real estate, property management, etc.

Brokers represent the buyer and seller and ensure that both their interests are protected at all times and the entire process of the deal is not only transparent but also hassle-free. Today, brokers also have to effectively network with brokers in other locations so as to represent their clients in areas outside their jurisdiction.

Even in this era of direct marketing by builders, realtors hold a very important role in ensuring that your ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ dream home acquisition doesn’t run into rough weather. Again here, how smooth is the process, depends on what your realtor does for you. Is he ready to walk that extra mile to make your transition smooth, hassle free and memorable in more ways than one? That depends on choosing your realtor wisely.

Buyer/ seller checklist

1 Is the realtor full time in the business? Part timers in brokerage are not serious about their work and can’t represent the clients faithfully and do justice to their deals.

2 What are his or her qualifications? A well-educated and qualified realtor will certainly be more professional than his or her counterparts.

3 Do they operate from an office? That way, he or she will be accessible when you need them. Also look for people who have assistants and fully equipped offices so you can be attended to when they are not around. Usually avoid brokers who are one-man shows and don’t have time for all the clients.

4 Do they have adequate knowledge? All around knowledge of current market scenes, rates, developments, latest in legalities, etc.

5 Is the reputation established? Get references from past clients, ask about the broker’s service levels, scope of services, etc.

6 What about networking capabilities? He or she needs to be in touch with a variety of lawyers, builders, architects and other real estate stakeholders.

7 Is he or she the member of an association? This shows him or her as a part of the organised fraternity.

Typically, home buying or selling is the single most important and expensive decision in the Indian middle class life, so it makes sense to get an expert to guide you through the process. The realtor’s experience will guide you through the complex maze of buying or selling a property and also advise you on the reputation of various builders and projects, current market scenario of realty, and the various pitfalls, so the client can stay away from problems. The realtor can be a one-point contact for all the components that go in a deal, like a single-stop boutique in realty shopping.

Changing roles

Real estate transactions have become more complex in recent times due to constant amendments in property laws, taxation and introduction of newer levies like service tax and VAT, etc. Add to this is the digital chaos with numerous portals offering endless property listings coupled with direct marketing blitz by developers. The home buyer is a busy professional who doesn’t have time to cut this clutter and there is a need of a professional realtor who can be his friend, philosopher and guide who will help him navigate the complex maze of the transaction. So now the role of a broker is more than a mere sales person. he is a transaction enabler.

Brokers have evolved and are now all rounders with working knowledge of law, taxation and are in a position to advise clients. They also help in understanding the ground reality for customers’ requirements and advise them on the best options with respect to not only properties but also select the best financing options.

Since brokers work closely with clients, they understand the changing preferences of the client and help developers create the right product mix coupled with customer-friendly finance schemes so as to make it a win-win for all concerned.

Broking is a very unorganised business with no entry barriers. There is no standardisation of the services being offered. The trade gets a bad name due to the fly by night operators and this invariably hurts the image of the professional brokers as well. With RERA in place, this business will be regulated and lead to elimination of so called part timers from the business and also gain credibility. Training can help brokers be better sales people and work effeciently

Most brokers have a flat hierarchy. Businesses are run the family way with a monopolistic style as there is a lot of attrition and employees turn entrepreneur with only 6-12 months on the job. But many professional broking companies have reinvented this business and have SOP’s in place with proper hierarchies defined and business is run in a corporate manner.

CRM and inventory management systems have now been integrated by professional brokers and websites are their showcase to the world with client getting to see pictures, walk-throughs and videos even before they come to the site. The professional realtor is able to manage his prospect pipeline better now and ensures a seamless experience for his customer by using the tech on his phone and stays connected to his back end office as well. Technology is a big tool for them.

In India, home buying will always be an emotional decision and the broker can never be replaced by the Internet. Online portals offer plethora of choices, but only a expert broker can help the client close the right deal with no hassles.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Design tips to make a small bathroom more spacious!

Not everyone can afford a master bath with twin sinks, a palatial tub, and luxury dual-headed shower. Some of us (well, most of us!) have to contend with reality. Reality means compromises, and sometimes that compromise means a small bathroom.

But just because a bathroom is small doesn’t mean it has to feel small. In fact, many small bathrooms can be transformed into much larger-feeling spaces simply by making some adjustments to design choices.

Here are some design tips for your small bathroom that don’t involve major renovations. If you’ve been living with a small bathroom, perhaps these tips will help you make the most of what you have until you decide it’s time to make the upgrade:

1. Install a sink with open shelving underneath, or a narrow pedestal. A big, blocky cabinet under a sink may provide storage, but visually it consumes a hunk of open space.

2. Situate towel racks on the back of your door. Stylish towel bars stacked three high on the back of your door can eliminate the need for racks elsewhere in the bathroom, opening up more wall space. If your bathroom’s really small, these towels on the back of the door might not even be out of reach from inside the shower!

3. Elevate shelving above the toilet tank. If you have shelves elsewhere, but the space above your toilet tank is empty, consider relocating high shelving to above the “dead space” behind the toilet. Consolidating this used space into a single area can broaden out the rest of the bathroom.

4. Go high with wall cubes. Cubbie or cubes situated overhead can be an effective way to move the clutter of storage above eye level. There are companies who make these wall-mounted, moisture-resistant cube shelves in a variety of styles.

5. Recess some lighting. You may not multiple light sources in your small bathroom, but if you can “hide” some of your lighting in recessed areas, particularly above the shower, you can reduce the “noise” of big fixtures.

Look on the bright side: At least a small bathroom means less to clean! If these design tips aren’t enough to open up your small bathroom, perhaps it’s time to upgrade to that bathroom of your dreams...

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Read what Hammer & Mop advises to do in order to Keep Your Home Cleaner in a Season of Sniffles.

It is that time of the year again, when seasons change and minor infections come creeping into our homes. Runny noses, coughs and burning eyes are common phenomena and not quite something that’s desirable. While there are a lot of preventive steps to be taken to avoid infections, a basic step would be to keep our homes cleaner.

Cleaning is Therapeutic
There is no doubt that cleaning is therapeutic – as an activity and the result it delivers. Clean surroundings result in peace of mind, calmer senses and better air quality than otherwise. Best if we breathe in cleaner air without particulate pollutants purely because the home is clean.
Remove Dust
Dust is nastier than it seems, for it settles everywhere, gets inhaled and carries viruses. Settled dust represents stagnancy, and it is healthy to simply clean it away. All surfaces must be dusted (ideally) everyday and dust settled in the corners ought to be removed (ideally) once a month.

Wipe those Doorknobs, Cellphones & Remote Controls
The places where most hands & surfaces touch are dirtier than you can imagine, and carry a deadly number of microbes. It is recommended that such surfaces are wiped clean with a mild disinfectant (ideally) everyday or at least once a week. Since you touch everything and touch these things too, cleaning these surfaces is crucial to a healthier home.

Wash Your Hands
And it is best you do this every hour. Yes, every 60 minutes. Wash your hands with soap and water every 60 minutes and you will keep heck loads of infectious microbes away from you. Your hands go everywhere – from your laptop keyboard to your phone to your face to your table to your face again to an office refrigerator handle to your wallet to your laptop and back to your face. It becomes filthy in 60 minutes and it needs to be washed! Do it for a healthier you!
Wash Your Head
To avoid cross contamination, it is recommended to wash your hair regularly because it is major carrier of germs. Cleanliness starts with the self, so if you keep yourself cleaner (by washing hands and hair regularly), you will have lesser causes to worry because germs will start leaving you alone! :)
Vacuum That Upholstery
Or just have it washed! Upholstery is a hotbed for dust and microbes. We sit on it, sleep on it, laze around on it, wrap ourselves in it  (curtain madness), eat on it and spill stuff on it. Fabric is not as clean as it looks and best if it is washed regularly. Quarterly or Half Yearly works best!
Sanitize Those Mattresses
Mattresses have layers and layers of dust mites and their excreta (yes, you read that right) and it grows every month. A sanitization process (deep vacuum and UV treatment) ensures your beds are clean enough to sleep and breathe on. This also helps in case of medical patients and infants.
Clean Windows & Safety Grills
The best way to keep our homes clean is to protect the borders! There are layers of particulate pollutants on window surfaces and safety grills. When the wind comes in, it brings with it these pollutants for us to breathe in and live in. Keep those surfaces clean helps us be healthier than we are.

You can reach Hammer & Mop at support@hammerand

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

15 Things to Notice While Buying a Ready-to-Move in Property

Property market is abuzz that #AchheDin has arrived. Recent Repo-rate cut by RBI and the forthcoming budget with a lot of good anticipations of Tax Relief, flexible Monetary policy, Submerging inflation, REIT fund, FDI norms getting boost... all tell us a tale of a bright future of Indian economy and Real Estate industry as a whole.
Now, as an individual, you must have been holding on to that plan of investment in a Ready-to-occupy home which gives you instant Rental return or option of shifting to that Spacious living room with wide balconies or the Penthouse of your dream!
Here's a list of things you must check while inspecting the home. Your seller/real estate broker/builder may not point out all these to you.
1. How old is the building?
Ask this question before you plan the visit. The price may be attractive as per the location, but what is the reason? The age of the building should not be the reason! You may not choose to buy a house more than certain number of years old. However, keep in mind that some superior locations in Mumbai, Bangalore or Old Delhi will not have newly built homes on sale. So, if you happen to prefer those areas, you may have to compromise. My point is, be ready with the information & don't get your heart broken once you like it & then come to know of this deal-breaking information.
2. Did anyone else occupy the house/apartment or is it first ownership?
This may not sound so important initially, however, a completely unoccupied house for, say, 5 years, may have it's own issues like clogged pipes, broken taps, cracked walls, seepage, unpolished floor etc. So, you may need to ask your seller to make all that in a proper condition before handing it over to you. On the other side, if the property was occupied earlier, you may want to have the sanitary ware replaced, kitchen & bathrooms acid-washed etc., which you should utter before the deal price is set.
3. Is there a damp anywhere?
Mumbai happens to be a humid city. Damp is a common happening in all buildings where proper sealing etc. has not been done, or a shoddy plumbing job gives away the pipes and eventually shows up above the concrete. Cement is not waterproof and whatever remedy you use, it will never get completely cured. Your 'dream home' should not become a 'nightmare' later. Beware of this check. Now... how to check damp? Good question. The damp can be in three directions---roof, walls & floor. We generally look at the ceiling & the walls and forget the floor. The easiest way to check floor-damp is to take off your shoes & place your bare foot on the floor. If you get a wet feeling, then look for patches on the floor, which might look like abstract designs on the marble flooring, but it isn't. Generally floor-damps will slowly spread to the wall too, so if there's some flaking of the paint near the skirting of the floor, be rest assured.
4. What has been used for waterproofing(if it's a penthouse or a villa)?
There are plenty of chemical treatments available these days which can very well protect the roof from excess heat, rainwater or water-logging at the roof. If the construction company has used good materials in sufficient quantity in the house/penthouse, no need to worry. But better check it than regret later. It's quite expensive to do that up later from your own funds, so don't feel shy of asking for the details!
5. Is the paint on the wall fresh?
Though it looks good & smells fresh, I'd like to play a devil's advocate here.... Is there anything that is being tried to be hidden from you? May be a patch on the wall or just to make sure you like it instantly and don't ask many questions? That designer-paint on the backdrop of the master bedroom should not take so much of your breath away that you stop looking for what you have come to see! You must not get carried away with the 'beauty' of the house. That costs you nothing as against the price you're gonna pay!
6. Is it carpeted or having wooden floor?
Many modern day apartments are being sold with wall-to-wall carpets in study & wooden floor in master bedroom. It enhances the charm of the house and makes it look 'rich'. But please do the same act of barefoot checking on these two too, especially if it looks as if the furnishing has been done recently(for the purpose of the sale). You might discover the poor quality beneath the rich-looking modern home!
7. Check the plumbing. Open the taps.
Unused plumbing is the most horrible thing a home can have. There could be clogging of pipelines externally or internally, could be construction debris stuck somewhere which might need complete renovation of those pipelines, dead rodents contaminating water, building-management company supplying dirty water in the commode, making the sanitary-ware go badly damaged. There could be many issues. So, open all taps to see what flows out & take precautionary actions before you decide to buy.
8. Quality & source of water-supply in the building & what's the water pressure?
The plumbing issue reminds me of another important issues in apartment complexes these days- the water supply. Does the building have adequate supply of bore-well ground-water or the building survive on water from the tankers which is purchased everyday? Even if we don't like it, buying water has become a part of life for all highrises across the country. Some cities like Kolkata, part of Bangalore city & some South Delhi homes still get the 'corporation-water' supply, but others will have to use the 'tanker-water' even in their swimming pools! So, if you are getting attracted towards the jacuzzi in your master bath, be sure also know what is the water pressure in your building, specifically on your floor; else your health faucet may also not work, leave alone the rain-shower! FYI, higher the floor, lesser the pressure. So, if this is the most expensive penthouse you are looking at, the water-pressure is the least!
9. Garbage disposal facility
Waste management is a science. Disposal of garbage in a planned way is important for the environment as well as for healthy living. I have homes in different cities and they all have different modes of management. Some use different colours of buckets fororganic/hazardous/garden wastes, some have only wet & dry garbage disposal facility. I am sure this is evolving more every day and soon there will be different trucks coming to each building from the city-garbage cleaning team to take different types of garbage & we will be fined for non-compliance too! So, please check what method & facility is being perused in this property, which will give you a fair idea of how the people in this complex are, whether progressive or not.
10. Neighbouring area & notices inside or outside the building
While going for the inspection, please stop talking on your mobile phone for office work, or generally otherwise. When you are about half a kilometer away, start observing the road, bus stops, market, pedestrians, trees, cleanliness, cars plying around, plantation.... does it give you a homely feel? Do you feel you belong to this area? Will you allow your teenage daughter to commute alone? It might sound a little too much for you, but trust me when I say, I have seen people renting/buying a lovely property & vacating/selling it in less than six months as the 'neighbourhood didn't suit'! Check specifically for any notices outside the building with any litigation/ lawsuit number mentioned or notices inside the complex of some funny stuff like-'bicycle missing', 'deposit unpaid-disconnection notice', 'nobody turned up for owners' meeting', 'pay transfer charges to association before you rent/buy' etc. These will give you a fair idea of how everybody else is living their lives here, as well as of any hidden charges that may come up when you come here to take possession!
11. Sound-proofing & Dust-busters
Wanting to buy that beautiful road-facing sunlit large apartment? Having dreams of sitting on that wide balcony with a cup of ginger tea & teaching your daughter for her maths exam? Expecting parents to enjoy the lovely afternoon sun on the deck listening to old Gazals? Hey, first check out how noisy is that place? Don't regret later. Even if the road is not that noisy today, if there's a road widening on the cards & buses and trucks are supposed to ply then how dusty will that be always? Will you have the willingness to even step out on the balcony, or are you buying it for the pigeons to have safe havens to lay eggs & dirty them? Remember, you pay 100% of your square-foot cost for the balcony too! So, check before you invest in it.
12. How's the traffic during peak hours
It must have taken you 30 minutes to drive to the property on a Sunday when you inspected it, but will it take the same on your work-days? I'm sure you don't want to be late in your office everyday or miss your TV serial by half the showtime everyday waiting 100 meters away from home in the traffic snarl! How stressful will that be if it happens to you everyday? So, check that out too. Ask your colleagues who live nearby that property, about the bottlenecks & take feedback. Or simply, try yourself once.
13. See it once in daylight & once after dark; once during weekdays & once on weekdays.
Don't worry, it's not four, but two visits only if you plan it :) See it on a weekday during daytime and on a holiday in the evening. Trust me, the colour of the house, the light-fittings, the breeze, the mosquitoes, children paying on the corridor/porch, the wait time of the lift.....everything changes! Experience it before you decide.
14. What facing is the house?
Though I am personally not a believer of any methodology, but I believe that having themorning sun in the house and the south-breeze is really good for well-being. If you are a vaastu/feng shui believer, go ahead and check that out too, for peace of your mind. Making peace with your own self & with family who will live with you is important.
15. Is your family liking the place?
While inspecting the house, try to gaze the expression in your spouse, parents & childrens' face too. You can quite understand whether they are liking the place. After all, those non-working home-folks are going to live here more than you will! Your wife will have to like the kitchen & neighbourhood, your children will have to make friends here and your parents should have same-age neighbours to chat with. I will ask you to take one step further to check on the pet-policy of the building too, if you own a cat/dog as there has been many issues around this.

Now, I just hope I have not made your decision difficult. We are doing a simple discussion here and if you wish, please do trash all my views and go ahead to buy what your heart wants. We will see what happens next. Happy buying a new DREAM home!