BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – After a car, a home would likely be the second biggest purchase for most Bruneians — and it involves a lot of money and risks.

The home-buying process can be complicated because there are heaps of documents to sign, unexpected costs, and even laws you didn’t know existed.

While some obstacles are unavoidable, there are ways to make the entire process of buying your new home a lot easier.

Whether you’re a Bruneian or an adoptive citizen, here are some things to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line.

(NB: Some of these pointers may also apply to new homeowners in Malaysia.)

1. Foreigners can buy property

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In both Brunei and Malaysia, most people would assume that you cannot purchase property unless you are a citizen.

However, non-citizens are now allowed to purchase property in both countries.

From 2017, foreigners in Brunei can hold a strata title property for up to 99 years. This is especially ideal for those looking for a long-term stay of over 20 years.

However, only citizens of Brunei may be registered as landed property owners.

Any transfer of freehold and leasehold landed property may only be registered with approval of His Majesty the Sultan in Council.

2. Do your research before choosing a bank loan

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It’s important to know everything about bank loans before you look into buying your new home.

Few people have the ability to pay cash upfront, so a loan is essential for a large purchase such as a house.

Some banks have higher interest rates than others. We’re looking at four percent on average, but small could mean thousands of dollars in interest.

On top of that, loan entitlements will differ as these are determined by how much you can pay upfront and/or your monthly wages.

At the end of the day, the less interest you pay, the more spare cash you will have to decorate your place!

3. Don’t overlook property lawyers

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Buying property involves a lot of money and there are scammers waiting for a chance to take advantage of aspiring homeowners.

These cheaters can come in any shape or form, from bankers to contractors – there’s no easy way to identify them.

Property lawyers will do all the hard work for you — they will help you get the house you want while making sure you don’t fall victim to scammers.

Good property lawyers are usually costly, but it’s money worth spending.

4. Engage a real estate agent

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Some people may tend to avoid real estate agents for one reason: they don’t want to pay the agents’ commission when the deal is done, with the hope of saving extra cash.

But you’re paying for their insight into neighbourhoods, understanding of legal terms, reliable marketing skills, as well as a database of potential buyers and sellers.

You may risk losing money if you are not armed with these skills and knowledge.

Trust us, we’ve been there and we know what it’s like to swim with sharks. Real estate agents are helpful. Don’t wait until you really need them before getting in touch with one.

5. Don’t skip location research

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This is one of the most important factors when buying real estate. The location of a house matters as it will have a large impact on your home’s value.

Once you choose the area you want to live, it makes sense to start researching specific locations within those neighbourhoods.

Knowing what the area will look like in the next five years could determine the value of your property – and whether it will rise or fall.

For instance, a brand new mall opening nearby could see an appreciation in value, or a death in the building could mean a massive depreciation.

6. Come up with an interior design plan

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Buying a property is actually the easy part, things get tougher when you’re looking for ideas to beautify your space.

A go-to platform to consolidate your ideas is Pinterest. You’ll have a lot fun doing this, but it gets tricky when you’re looking for someone to carry out the renovations.

Spend some time to create a proposal with as much detail as possible for your contractors. Then send out the proposal before initiating further discussions.

With the deck you have created, they will be able to tell you whether they can achieve your desired renovations.

7. Look into buying more than one property

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Investing in your future is good advice, and one way to heed that advice is to purchase an additional property.

There are two ways to go about this: One is to buy a house and sell it for a higher price once its value appreciates.

Another way is to rent out your additional property for extra monthly income. You could possibly use this income to rent a cool space elsewhere.

If you’re not looking for a long-term home, renting could save you a lot of money because you don’t have to spend on furnishings, repairs, etc.

8. Do a price comparison

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Comparing prices is something that potential buyers normally do without hesitation, but let’s look at why this is very important.

When buying a property, your real estate agent will offer you the “best” price.

If you think that the property is overpriced, take a look at other comparable properties that are still on the market.

A high number of vacant properties in the vicinity might be an indication that the neighbourhood is undesirable or in low demand. If that’s the case, you might want to look elsewhere.

9. Consider renting out your home

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Buying your own home can be exciting, and it’s normal to jump on the opportunity the moment you see something you like.

But if you’re buying a property as an investment, it’s worthwhile to learn about existing rentals in the neighbourhood to estimate potential returns on your purchase.

If you do decide to rent out your new home, remember that furnishings, unit size and nearby amenities will have a large impact on how much you can charge.

For more information on purchasing your own home, contact Hartanah Impianika at 8783388 or pay them a visit at their Facebook page.