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Balancing the scales

30/03/2002 Published in NST-PROP A Buyer Watch Article by National House Buyers Association


The House Buyers Association's guidebook on buying a home will give property purchasers some leverage when it comes to dealing with developers

The quest for shelter is one of the basic driving forces of the human race. Today, this quest has been translated into the more sophisticated need to own a home and much of our lives are spent in pursuit of this dream. Indeed, the purchase of a house that we can call our own if often a major milestone in our journey towards a better and more secured environment in which to bring up our families.

With the exception of those fortunate wealthy souls, who've got plenty of money to spare, the purchase of a house usually represents the largest single investment in our lifetime. The unfortunate part about this whole process is that we do not have the luxury of a learning curve in which they can equip ourselves with the necessary skills to avoid getting ourselves into trouble. 

Very often by the time most house buyers realise that they have made a mistake, it is already too late and the results can be traumatic and financially crippling. This very noble and seemingly simple undertaking of buying a house, in a lot of cases, has gone terribly wrong and unfortunate aspirants have ended up being engulfed in a quagmire of financial nightmare and legal complications. Few are able to get out of such situations without serious financial losses.

The House Buyers Association (HBA) has attended to large numbers of such cases since it was set up. The causes that make these unfortunate victims end up in such situations are many and varied.  

Certain cases are brought about due to business failures on the part of the housing developers that have speculated in the market. Some are brought about by environmental factors, such as the unanticipated economic downturn.  Yet others are the results of cunningly designed frauds by certain bogus developers.

Against such a backdrop, would you not, as a potential house buyer, wish to take precautions and to seek all the advice and knowledge that you can get, before you commit to buying a house?

HBA, with a view of reaching as many house buyers as possible, last year decided to publish a guidebook on house buying. It was the result of a spontaneous decision that the such a publication would be of immense value to all prospective house buyers.  

The House Buyers Guide, as it is called, was launched in conjunction with the press conference unveiling the Home Ownership Campaign 2002 that will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur next month.

The book  is designed to provide valuable information for those intending to purchase houses. It is also to educate them to be aware of their fundamental rights as buyers so as to be constantly on guard and to avoid the likelihood of possible pitfalls in dealing with housing developers. It is primarily targeted at buyers intending to buy a home that is not built yet, although some of the information will apply to buyers of sub-sale houses.

Besides house buyers, it is also good reading material for housing developers who will then be in a better position to view the subject from the other side of the fence. It comes in three languages: English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin.

The guide has 12 short chapters that cover the following topics: housing developers, land, building, gimmicks, sites, legal fees, sale and purchase agreements, vacant possession, stratified properties, financing/loans, insurance and HBA's recommendations. The crucial chapters have options on "where to check" and whom to address complaints to.

The book also comes with cartoons which emphasises real life situations with a dose of humour for easy reading. While not exhaustive in nature, it has an easy checklist format to make you aware of some of the questions that you should ask when buying a house. In an effort to make the book affordable to all house buyers, the book is being retailed at a subsidised price of RM5.


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