Friday, December 22, 2006

Tips on buying or selling your house

Whether you are planning your first purchase or selling your second home, property buying and selling requires a great deal of decision-making. Meticulous planning at the investment stage itself could indeed avoid hassles and many sleepless nights.

Though the list provided below is not exhaustive, these tips will help you plan your investment better. Before you buy a home prepare yourself with the knowledge needed to make your real estate transaction happen smoothly.

Research: Read available materials, talk to friends and experts, and spend time looking at different homes, schools, and neighbourhoods.

Outline a Plan: Focus on the important factors and organize the entire process. You may even want to use a binder with sections on house hunting, home financing, service providers, etc.

The right location: It’s always better to search for a location that preferably is in line with your income and choice. Get an idea about the connectivity of the area to the basic needs of life - hospital, entertainment, shopping etc and the people staying in the area.

Make a good deal: Compare the cost of the property you are interested in with similar property in that area. A broker can be very useful in this regard as he can provide you with the list of few transactions that has taken place in recent past in that locality, which will give you a fair idea.

The real estate agent: An experienced agent is always a preferred option as he would be able to judge the area that will fit in your budget. Before narrowing down to any particular estate agent take care to see their past record.

Choosing a housing finance company: Compare the loan options available and always go with the financer who has a good track record. While going for a home loan, remember that loans of a shorter tenure (say 5 years) require higher payout from your side every month (EMI) since you are paying off your loan in a shorter time frame.

Closing costs: The closing cost includes costs incurred on brokerage, registration, stamp duty, insurance, property taxes, amenities charges and so on.

Legal: Before buying property, it is advisable to appoint a solicitor to inspect the original title documents of the property being purchased. If the title is not clear, the number of complications arising in future may be numerous.

The resale prospect: Think about the day when you may need to sell the property. Features that tempt you when you buy a house may not be attractive to prospective buyers when you become a seller.

Before you sell a home

Make sure your house is the one potential buyers want to come back to for a second look.

Repairs: Even tiny defects in your house might look big in the watchful eyes of the buyers. Cleaning the exteriors and interiors, giving the rooms a bright look, creating speciousness and illuminating the house can make a big difference in the prospective buyer’s mind.

Spreading the word: You can advertise in newspapers or websites, or spread the news by word of mouth through friends and acquaintances to sell your property. However, handling your own sale means you will be responsible for placing ads, answering phones and showing your home to strangers.

Real estate agents: The commission rate charged by an agent may vary, depending on where you live or what agency you choose.

However there are some benefits of going through professional real estate agents. They will help you with:

Establish a fair asking price for your home
Promote your home to other agents
List your property in multiple listing services giving maximum exposure
Schedule appointments to show your home to prospective buyers
Refer you to sources for insurance, inspections, legal counsel and financing
Help you negotiate with the buyer

Setting a Fair Price:

Some of the factors to consider in pricing your home are:

o Location
o Economic conditions
o Supply and demand in the local housing market
o Extra features in your house, etc.

Qualifying a Buyer:

A number of factors will help determine the right buyer for your property:

o The buyer’s current income and employment.
o The buyer’s cash position and availability of a down payment.
o The length of time the buyer needs before closing on your home.
o How interested the buyer appears to be in your home versus others.

House documents for buyers’ scrutiny: Keep all house related documents together. Buyers may want to have a look at all the documents.

Legal Representation: Look for an attorney with expertise in real estate transactions.

Your attorney will be present at the actual closing to protect your interests and can assist you with the following elements of a sales contract:

o The sale price.
What is included in the sale price — draperies, carpeting, light fixtures, heating oil, etc.
o The amount of the down payment.
o The date of settlement and possession date.
o Contingencies to the sale–inspections (e.g. structural, lead-based paint, etc.), required improvements, legal review of the contract by the buyer’s or seller’s attorney, etc.
o The amount and length of loan, interest rate and time limits to secure the loan.
o Determining which closing costs are to be paid by the buyer and which by the seller.
Best of luck and happy hunting!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Get value for money

Valuer assesses property based on factors such as location, infrastructure, terrain and road width.
Net value of the building is calculated by taking into account depreciation from the reproduction cost, cost of ancillary works and prevailing land value.
is a term for the decline in value of an asset over its economic life.
This does not include loss due to accident, fire and theft or declining price level.
If the construction is done by land bearing wall method, the life of the structure is considered to be for 60 years.
If it is by RCC frame structure, the life expectancy is 80 years.

* * *
You are planning to buy a built house and the deal is in the final stages. Yet, you are uncomfortable with the rate quoted by the seller. Is there a way of knowing the right price of the property? "Yes," says K.V. Srinivasan, a registered valuer and the chairman of the Bangalore Chapter of Institution of Valuers.

If you approach a valuer, he will collect the details of the property from the seller, study the documents in detail and visit the place for inspection.

He will assess the value of the property based on factors such as location, infrastructure (proximity to civic amenities, public transport, schools, colleges etc), terrain, road width, water, sewerage and electricity connection and the like, apart from the specifications of construction.

He will arrive at the net value of the building by reducing the depreciation from the reproduction cost (building the same structure at current rate).

He will then assess the cost of ancillary works such as compound wall, gates, sump and overhead tank, add the prevailing land value to this sum and arrive at the value of the property.


Depreciation is a term for the decline in value of an asset over its economic life. It covers wear and tear from constant use and physical deterioration from age and exposure. Obsolescence (loss of usefulness) due to availability of new or more efficient types of products serving the same purpose is also part of it.

This does not include loss due to accident, fire and theft or declining price level. In case of a building in which the first floor was constructed after a period of 10 years following the construction of the ground floor, the depreciation of the first floor will not be considered separately. The depreciation adopted for the ground floor will hold good for the first floor also.

If the construction is done by land bearing wall method, the life of the structure is considered to be for 60 years. If it is by reinforced cement concrete (RCC) frame structure, the life expectancy of the building is 80 years. The rate of depreciation per year is 1.5 per cent.

The compound wall is valued through running foot and the height of the wall too is an important factor. The value of the gate made of mild steel also depends on its height, while the sump and overhead tank are valued on their capacity.

For example, the value of a 20-year-old house located in Basavanagudi with a built-up area of 1,800 square feet, which includes ground and first floor on a site measuring 60' x 40', is calculated as follows:

Net value

If the estimated reproduction cost is Rs. 1,000 per sq. ft., the net value of the building would be 1,800 X 1,000 = Rs. 18,00,000.

If a compound surrounds the house, the perimeter of the site is 200 feet. The reproduction cost per running foot is valued between Rs. 500 and Rs. 550. If it is valued at Rs. 550, the value of the compound wall is Rs. 1,10,000. The gate made of mild steel is valued between Rs. 150 and Rs. 175 per sq. ft. If the height of the gate is 8 feet and the width 10 feet and if it is valued at Rs. 150 per sq. ft., the reproduction cost will be Rs. 12,000. If the house has an underground sump, which can hold about 5,000 litres of water, the cost is Rs. 6 per litre. It works out to Rs. 30,000.

For overhead tank, it is valued at Rs. 8 per litre. If the overhead tank can hold about 3,000 litres of water, the reproduction cost will be Rs. 24,000.

The concrete pavement is valued at Rs. 40 per sq. ft. and if the house has 1,200 sq. ft. of concrete pavement, the reproduction cost is Rs. 48,000. When the reproduction cost of the building is added to the reproduction cost of the ancillary works, the total amount will be Rs. 18,00,000 + Rs. 2,24,000 = Rs. 20,24,000.

The valuer will reduce 30 per cent (1.5 per cent per year x 20 years) as depreciation value from this amount and the total cost will be Rs. 20,24,000 - Rs. 6,07,200 = Rs. 14,16,800.

The prevailing land value is added to this amount to get the value of the property. If the prevailing land value is Rs. 4,000 per sq. ft, then the fair market value of the property is Rs. 96,00,000 + Rs. 14,16,800 = Rs. 1,10, 16,800.

It is utmost importance on your part to insist on assessing the value of the property only after the valuer has made the on-the-spot inspection as certain valuers consider the recent advertised selling rates on property irrespective of age of building under purview.

Friday, December 01, 2006

An organised approach to buying houses

Buying your dream home can turn into a nightmare. Not if you went about it in a sensible manner. Not if you took the time, armed yourself with the required knowledge, took the right procedures and clarified all doubts however small…before investing.

Having decided to have your own home, the search for the right one for you and your family can be confusing and a tedious affair.

Trying to combine important factors such as location, neighbourhood, conveniences, commute for the family etc., can be a trying task. It is also a long process. But it always pays to maximize your time and minimize your risks.

Let’s assume three important factors about you, namely:

you are a working person

you know where your work area and children’s school location are.

commute to your office and children’s school is a subject of concern.

If these three assumptions characterize your situation, here is how to find your own home that suits your needs and taste.

Step 1: Obtain a latest map of the surroundings of your place of employment or the surroundings of your children’s school.

Step 2: Determine the amount of time you are willing to spend commuting. Let’s say in today’s context, a good 30 or 45 minutes is quite acceptable for a working person. Determine the acceptable commute time for your children.

Step 3: Identify what areas are within the acceptable commute time. Also consider the reverse driving time. Rush hour drive will be longer. Check out the various routes to office and school.

Step 4: Explore individual areas and neigbourhoods within your determined boundaries. Keep one important factor, which many prospective homebuyers overlook - you don’t live in a house, but you live in a community or neighbourhood!

Some of the following questions will help you make a wise investment:

What is the general appearance, is it immediately likable, are the surroundings and homes appealing?

Is the locality a planned one, are all civic amenities available, is it accessible to shopping and other conveniences, how is the traffic, what about schools, etc?

Is it known to be a safe place? Check the noise levels of the locality.

Are there children of similar age group for your children? This is important for growing children.

What are the growth prospects of the locality, will it get too congested?

Will the place be in sync with your own lifestyle, will you be proud to tell your friends that you live in this area?

What does the place look like in the late evenings, is it safe, is it good for a stroll?

n By now you should have narrowed down the search to 3 or 4 areas.

But before you decide on any builder, know what you can afford. Quite often prospects overestimate their resources, and there are some who under evaluate what they can afford!

Look at the availability of builders in the neigbourhood of your choice. Make a good study of all available flats…whether new or old, whether completed or under construction.

Step 5: Now, having known the price range that is right for you, and having seen several flats, what you will remember most is the surroundings and façade of each flat.

That’s natural, but unfortunately with overall impressions, the tendency to overlook important details.

Better to ask a lot of questions and keep a record for comparison, along with the brochures of each project.

Will the builder allow modifications; is there room for future changes?

Check what area of actual usable space you will get, is it enough for your family, what about when guests/relatives come over

If it is a duplex system do you have old people in the family who may not be able to climb stairs?

Is it compatible with your lifestyle, can u have formal as well as informal entertaining, will it accommodate religious functions?

How important is privacy for you?

Does the floor plan allow for good ventilation and natural light, is the kitchen dark?

If your children small, are the balcony railings safe?

Are electrical fittings inclusive of safety features?

Is security and amenities adequate?

Is the builder reputed, is the brand an established one, what has been the track record?

It would be a good idea to list out top priorities and what you are willing to overlook in the lack of it.

Step 6: Find out what exactly is included in the price. Avoid being surprised later.

Ensure everything that is been spoken and promised are reflected in the agreement.

Another important matter to keep in mind, once you’ve decided to buy a house for certain:

Don’t buy very expensive items just before buying a house

Don’t move money around unnecessarily

Don’t take loans for other purposes

If living in a rented house, give sufficient notice to the landlord to organize funds refundable to you.

Avoid family vacations, unless paid for (family vacations can be a surprisingly expensive affair overall)

Try to convert shares wisely and keep funds ready for payment - an overnight job may prove less of a gain

Start following up for repayment of any loan you may have lent

Scout around for the best deal from home loan banks

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Good Wan! (Good One!)!!

Good Wan! (Good One!)!!
Chinese Name confusion.

Caller: Hello, can I speak to Annie Wan?

Operator: Yes, you can speak to me.

Caller: No, I want to speak to Annie Wan!

Operator: Yes I understand you want to speak to anyone. You can speak to
me. Who is this?

Caller: I'm Sam Wan. And I need to talk to Annie Wan! It's urgent.

Operator: I know you are someone and you want to talk to anyone ! But
what's this urgent matter about?

Caller: Well... just tell my sister Annie Wan that our brother Noe Wan was
involved in an accident. Noe Wan got injured and now Noe Wan is being sent
to the hospital..

Operator: Look, if no one was injured and no one was sent to the hospital,
then the accident isn't an urgent matter! You may find this hilarious but I
don't have time for this!

Caller: You are so rude! Who are you?

Operator: I'm Saw Ree.

Caller: Yes! You should be sorry . Now give me your name!!

Operator: That's what I said. I'm Saw Ree .

Caller: Oh.....God.......

Thursday, November 16, 2006

seriously smiling

Three dead bodies turn up at the mortuary, all with very big smiles on their faces.
The coroner calls in the police to tell them what has happened.
First body: “Frenchman, 60, died of heart failure while making love to his mistress.
Hence the enormous smile, inspector”, says the Coroner.
Second body: “Scotsman, 25, won a thousand pounds on the lottery, spent it all on whisky.
Died of alcohol poisoning, hence the smile.”
The Inspector asked, “What of the third body?” “Ah,” says the coroner, “This is the most unusual one:
Larry Singh, age 30, struck by lightning.”
“Why is he smiling then?” inquires the Inspector.
“He thought he was having his photo taken.”

Bush Leadership Test

While visiting England, George Bush is invited to tea with the Queen. He asks her what her leadership philosophy is. She says that it is to surround herself with intelligent people.
Bush asks how she knows if they're intelligent.
"I do so by asking them the right questions," says the Queen. "Allow me to demonstrate."
Bush watches as the Queen phones Tony Blair and says, "Mr. Prime Minister, please answer this question: your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or sister. Who is it?"
Tony Blair responds, "It's me, ma'am."
"Correct. Thank you and good-bye, sir," says the Queen. She hangs up and says, "Did you get that, Mr. Bush?"
Bush nods: "Yes ma'am. Thanks a lot. I'll definitely be using that!"
Bush, upon returning to Washington, decides he'd better put the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to the test. Bush summons Dick Lugar to the White House and says, "Senator Lugar, I wonder if you can answer a question for me."
"Why, of course, sir. What's on your mind?"
Bush poses the question: "Uhh, your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"
Lugar hems and haws and finally asks, "Can I think about it and get back to you?"
Bush agrees, and Lugar leaves. He immediately calls a meeting of other senior Republican senators, and they puzzle over the question for several hours, but nobody can come up with an answer. Finally, in desperation, Lugar calls Rice at the State Department and explains his problem.
"Now lookee here, your mother has a child, and your father has a child, and this child is not your brother or your sister. Who is it?"
Rice answers immediately, "It's me, of course."
Much relieved, Lugar rushes back to the White House, finds George Bush, and exclaims, "I know the answer, sir! I know who it is! It's Condoleezza Rice!"
And Bush replies in disgust, "Wrong, you dumb shit, it's Tony Blair!"

Cash Withdrawal

How a BOY withdraws cash from ATM.
1. Park the car

2. Go to ATM Machine

3. Insert card

4. Enter PIN

5. Take money out

6. Take ATM Card out

7. Drive away

How a GIRL withdraws cash from ATM

1. Park the car

2. Check makeup

3. Turn off engine

4. Check makeup

5. Go to ATM

6. Hunt for ATM card in the purse

7. Insert card

8. Hit Cancel

9. Hunt in purse for chit with PIN written on it

10. Insert card

11. Enter PIN

12. Take cash

13. Go to car

14. Check makeup

15. Start car

16. Stop car

17. Run back to ATM

18. Take ATM card

19. Back to car

20. Check makeup

21. Start car

22. Check makeup

23. Drive for 1/2 mile

24. Release handbrake

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What happens to the HR manager when they leave earth for good

One day while walking down the street a highly successful
Human Resources Manager was tragically hit by a bus and she died. Her soul
arrived up in heaven where she was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter

"Welcome to Heaven," said St. Peter. "Before you get settled
in though, it
seems we have a problem. You see, strangely enough, we've
never once had a
Human Resources Manager make it this far and we're not
really sure what to
do with you."

"No problem, just let me in," said the woman.

"Well, I'd like to, but I have higher orders. What we're
going to do is let
you have a day in Hell and a day in Heaven and then you can
whichever one you want to spend an eternity in."

"Actually, I think I've made up my mind, I prefer to stay in
Heaven", said
the woman

"Sorry, we have rules..."

And with that St. Peter put the executive in an elevator and
it went
down-down-down to hell.

The doors opened and she found herself stepping out onto the
putting green
of a beautiful golf course. In the distance was a country
club and standing
in front of her were all her friends - fellow executives
that she had
worked with and they were well dressed in evening gowns and
cheering for
her. They ran up and kissed her on both cheeks and they
talked about old
times. They played an excellent round of golf and at night
went to the
country club where she enjoyed an excellent steak and
lobster dinner.

She met the Devil who was actually a really nice guy (kind
of cute) and she
had a great time telling jokes and dancing. She was having
such a good time
that before she knew it, it was time to leave. Everybody
shook her hand and
waved goodbye as she got on the elevator.

The elevator went up-up-up and opened back up at the Pearly
Gates and found
St. Peter waiting for her.

"Now it's time to spend a day in heaven," he said. So she
spent the next 24
hours lounging around on clouds and playing the harp and
singing. She had
great time and before she knew it her 24 hours were up and
St. Peter came
and got her.

"So, you've spent a day in hell and you've spent a day in
heaven. Now you
must choose your eternity,"

The woman paused for a second and then replied, "Well, I
never thought I'd
say this, I mean, Heaven has been really great and all, but
I think I had a
better time in Hell."

So St. Peter escorted her to the elevator and again she went
back to Hell.

When the doors of the elevator opened she found herself
standing in a
desolate wasteland covered in garbage and filth. She saw her
friends were
dressed in rags and were picking up the garbage and putting
it in sacks.

The Devil came up to her and put his arm around her.

"I don't understand," stammered the woman, "yesterday I was
here and there
was a golf course and a country club and we ate lobster and
we danced and
had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland of garbage
and all my
friends look miserable."

The Devil looked at her smiled and told...
"Yesterday we were recruiting you, today you're an

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Diary of an MBA

Dear Diary,

I can't hold myself down. My FIRST day on the job!!
And I like it already.

"Assistant Junior Deputy to the Vice Chairman -
Manufacturing" . My dad was thrilled when he heard my

"What the f!@#!!!" were his exact words. Oh I love it
when my parents are happy...

Need to meet HR in half an hour. I can't wait to get
my first Employee ID Card and cubicle. I hope
Parthasarathy Whatayblouse Crappers (PWC) is the
beginning of great things.

P.S. I have brought my favorite textbooks back from
the institute OD, OM and HR should help me grow
rapidly in the organization. And I WILL handle soft
issues before facing hard issues here at PWC.

July 28th

Dear Diary,

Had a lot of fun with HR yesterday. The guy who had
recruited me had left a month ago. So they didn't know
I was joining. We had a hearty laugh over that one.

I'll get my cubicle in a few days time. For the time
being I am sharing a nice one with Claire. She's with
Corporate Communication.

The phone doesn't work though...

August 2nd

Dear Diary,

Met my boss today. He spent a lot of time with my CV
and then asked me how I managed to get a job with
them. (Even he knows how lucky they are to get me..)
He told me to review our material ordering system in
the err... umm... the... the "big yellow and blue
noisy machine section" of the plant.

Claire is working on an "Our Employees Love Us"
campaign. The office boy had just resigned. So she got
me to pose with an apron and a tray of cookies for a
photo. They are going to call me Ramon and use it for
ads. I am going to be famous.

August 7th

Dear Diary,
My first breakthrough. I have decided to order nickel
ball bearings using the EQO.. QEO... whatever formula.
It takes into account item cost, holding cost and
weight of ball bearing I think. The purchase guy gave
me a funny look when he saw my annual requisition
contract form. He is obviously not an MBA...

Claire resigned today. She told me carry on with the
"Our Employees Love Us" campaign.

P.S. Lesson for the week. You cannot order 0.7564 of a
ball bearing. It has to be in whole numbers.

August 11th

Dear Diary,

I just got a shipment of 4384 ball bearings. I checked
up with Engineering.

They said that should be enough for around 14 years of
requirement. I gave them 3 and stashed away the rest
in a cupboard in my room. If prices of ball bearings
go up, I see a lot of potential savings.

I have decided to develop informal channels of
communication. From tomorrow I will spend a little
time next to the coffee machine to understand the
unspoken messages within the underbelly of the firm.

(That OD book is good)

August 14th

Dear Diary,

I sent my first official letter today. It was to our
Facilities manager Merry Le Bian. She is a hottie. I
told her that the Coffee Machine takes too much time
to reheat between refills. Wrote it in a WAC format
and all with a table of contents and everything. She
is sure going to be impressed!! I spell checked it in
MS word and emailed it to her an hour ago. No reply

They scrapped the "Our Employees Love Us" campaign.
The photo shoot was taking up too much time, and
people were being forced to stay late without extra
pay. Someone finally went and vandalised the banner.
It now reads "Our Employers Shove Us". I offered to
model for all the snaps and videos. They called me a
dickhead. I was delighted. Dickhead is internal slang
for "Big Stud". HR told me. Everyone calls me that...

P.S. One more shipment of ball bearings came. Again
4384. The contract can't be changed now. I dont have
too much space left in my cupboard.

August 25th

Dear Diary,

My letter came back. It had a pink post-it on it from
Merry. "Please proofread" it said. It was CC'd to my
boss. How was I supposed to know MS Word would spell
check her name and change it to Merry Lesbian????! !!!

Where's natural justice?

Today five minutes before a meeting the cupboard door
broke open. It took me ten minutes to pick up all the
ball bearings from the floor. I had to run to the
board room for the meeting and slipped on a bearing
which rolled under the door. I fell on the coffee
machine and tipped coffee powder into the polymer
mixing matching tray. No one saw anything.

P.S. Sorry for the long break. My computer crashed.
There was a mail from an old friend. She's now married
into the Welchia family I think.

Crashed after that. Strange name that Welchia...

September 2nd

Dear Diary,

My boss told me I may not last the probation period. I
was mighty thrilled to hear that. Imagine!! Permanent
in less than three months!!

That should be some sort of company record.

I made a presentation to all the staff yesterday. Some
300 people were there. I think I sent good vibes.
Everyone was smiling and nodding their heads during
the presentation. Someone later told me my fly was
open the whole time. But I don't think anyone noticed.
The presentation was on "An Open Culture: Let the
feeling show!!"

p.s. 17156 ball bearings. I floated a scheme to give
each employee a ball bearing for every year of
service. The HR manager immediately convened a meeting
with my boss. Every suggestion counts here at PWC.

September 4th

Dear Diary,

I have been transferred to the office in Sub-Saharan
Africa . I will be heading the Room Heater and Hot
Water Geyser products division. They have also told me
to pay for all the ball bearings I bought. I think it
speaks much of the entrepreneurial spirit. I have been
told to leave immediately for Kujumbinana.

P.S. A foreign posting in under a year!!!

September 5th

Dear Diary,
I am in Kujumbinana. We don't have a branch here...