Sunday, July 19, 2015

And so I bought a flat ...

With the kind of crazy prices for property going around in the city I stay (Pune), I never thought I would buy a House. But I did end up buying a small flat. And it was an experience.

My mother always wanted me to buy a flat. I never liked the idea. For all my life, I have lived in a row house, and our house back home in Kerala is a small garden plot with a house. Moving to vertical arrangement, with no garden, no greenery, probably no birds to wake me up in the morning (I almost never use an alarm, it doesn't work for me) made me dislike the whole idea of buying a flat. I always used to argue with my mother, when she used to keep suggesting me places to look for. Two years ago, that stopped. She left us forever suddenly. I was completely lost and had no idea where my life was heading (I am still trying to figure out and learning every moment).

Somehow, last December, I had this thought of buying a small flat. A 1BHK one. So I started off the usual way I start finding anything: online. I registered on magicbricks.com. It was a disaster. I was literately spammed with emails and phone calls. I somehow managed to close my account with them. But in-between my e-mail apparently got leaked to other two sites and they apparently started spamming me. Thankfully, the GMail spam filters saved me from further point less e-mails. I must say that I didn't know about Housing.com at that point, probably my experience would have been better.

In the mean time I also registered on the DSK website saying I was looking for a 1BHK flat in or near Baner (as this is near to the place I currently work). I had known DSK as a builder largely because of the wonderful 'DSK Gappa' program they run on the Pune local Radio, where the main guy DS Kulkarni carries out a conversational program. The beauty of the program is that they never advertise that they are a great builder and they are building a new site, go look and buy. DS Kulkarni instead talks on varied subjects, and buying a house is one of the main subjects. In any case, with the kind of spamming I received from all the online sites, I was not really expecting anything from DSK. But suddenly out of blue, one Saturday I got a call from DSK office saying they have few flats for ready possession at DSK Gandhkosh project, which is walking distance from my Office. I indicated to them that I would like to visit the site. And did so the coming Monday. I was not expecting that I would like a flat at 10th floor, when for all my life I have lived on ground zero, with a garden besides. But as soon as I entered the flat, it reminded me of the small apartment that I had rented when I lived in Canberra, only a lot better, with a nice airy terrace. At the very moment I had decided that I would be buying this very unit and not the others he was going to show me. It was B1001. Perfect binary ;-)

Well I was not quite sure of price to what I was getting, so I negotiated a bit and they gave me some discount. Then I came back two days later with few of my office mates to just understand their perspective, on if I am doing the right thing buying this flat. They too liked the flat, and suggested that I buy it even if I may not like to stay always here! Well, maybe, I thought.

Next, did my father like it? So the next weekend we visited the site together. To my surprise, my father too liked the place. And so we decided to book the flat just few days before my 35th birthday. I have a habit of giving gifts to myself, since no one gifts me ;-)

Interactions I had with the builder (DSK), were one of the most pleasant one. Once I had decided to buy the flat, the obvious next question was finances. The DSK guys wanted me to give them an advance of 5L INR for booking. Which obviously was not immediately available in my bank account. So I gave a part payment and my Father said he will give me some from his savings, which would make up the amount. The next thing was the getting a loan. I had never taken a loan before and had absolutely no idea if anyone would ever give me a loan! DSK guys indicated to me that they have some special scheme running with HDFC that would get me a loan at 9.9% interest (at that time the market rate was 10.10%). Since I didn't do much survey, I agreed to meet the sales people from HDFC loan department.

From here, the interaction with HDFC has been quite whirlwind. At first the interaction was quite straightforward and appeared simple. But they kept demanding documents after documents. At one stage it was made to believe that it was compulsory to take a insurance for the loan, and was given only one option. Since the premium was too high, I was in two minds if I should at all go ahead with the purchase of the flat. Although my close friend, father and colleagues from office suggested me to look at alternatives. At each point I felt that there was a lot of communication issue with the people interacting with me at HDFC. In any case the loan got approved.

In the meantime, I signed the agreement with DSK and the deed was registered at the registrar office. The builder arranged for appropriate transport to the office and needed appointments with officials there. It went reasonably smooth.

After this, the agreement papers were collected by the HDFC people, and the loan got cleared for disbursement. Around this time I got a call from some other sales guy from HDFC Life informing me about an alternative insurance plan for loan, I quizzed him on why was this not indicated to me previously, and he excused it indicating earlier conversation as an oversight by the previous guy who contacted me. It was indicated to me that this plan would cover life, disability, fire, theft, natural disaster and a host of other things, moreover it would link directly with my loan, so I would not need additional documentation. I though this was a decent plan, so I asked the relevant person to go ahead. So, imagine my shock when on the loan disbursement day, the HDFC guy tells me that the insurance I opted for only covers life and not any other things! This is where I felt totally bad about the way various people at HDFC were communicating with me. I literally fumed at the guy who was handling my papers. But I realised that there was no point bashing this guy, probably I should have been careful, should have enquired more, or should have chosen a different loan provider all together.

In any case, the loan got disbursed, and I gave some pre-EMI cheque (I later came to realise that I had not signed the cheque!) and here came a bummer: I was now told by the HDFC guy that I have to do property registration with the registrar office for the loan mortgage.  What? I have to again go to the registrar office? Fortunately, DSK people helped here to do this thing for me for a little fee. Sigh!

After all this I gave the disbursement cheque to DSK, and on the same day they handed me the keys to my flat. Along with that they gave me a host of starter kits, a set of books and to top all this they gave me a cheque of about 2800 INR. What was that cheque for? Apparently the DSK guys had deposited my advance amount and the own contribution that I did towards the flat in fixed deposits and the cheque was the interest (- TDS) that DSK was giving me back! This was sweet, considering all the pain I had got through. I felt so good about DSK, in complete contradiction to my feeling towards HDFC.

So apparently I now have a flat, albeit small. After this, I and my Father moved in to this flat. There were a lot of small maintenance issues at the flat, which have been or are being handled by DSK. This month, DSK handed over the operations to a provisional society committee, so technically now DSK is not responsible for any further work, but indicated that they are ready to help in any case.

After the first week of stay, my Father didn't much like the surroundings as the place is quite separated out and is still under development. So now, I shuffle between two homes. Workdays at the new flat, and on weekends to my old sweet home.

There are a few things I like about this new place. Its airy and very quite at the same time. At times it can be windy but it is still pleasant. The second one is the solar water heating system, which I very much wanted in my old house, but never managed to get it done. There are a few things I miss: no personal garden, the common garden however is nice. No malls or even shops near by. I have to walk about 1.5 km to get stuff.

Some photos

(NOTE: The photos below are not high res, they are reduced quality images, if you want to see some of them in full res, visit my Flickr photo stream)

A panoramic view of my flat @ DSK Gandhkosh. Fairly well constructed. 
If you come out in the morning, you will find plenty of interesting birds around DSK Gandhkosh.
Night view of Baner from my bed room window. You can keep staring for long.

The first morning I woke up, nature had a pleasant surprise for me. It was a double rainbow :)

The first morning I woke up, nature had a pleasant surprise for me. It was a double rainbow :)
Another night time view of Baner from my terrace.
A view of the small flower garden at the entrance of Gandhkosh.

Few flowers!

A view from outside of DSK Gandhkosh.


Startup or buy house?

Before I bought this flat, I was in a dilemma, of whether I should put all the money I have in my savings for a startup or buying a house. Eventually something prompted me to buy a flat. Don't know what, but it just happened. I was already working with a very good friend of mine towards forming a small entity to try out things we have been discussing over few months. And almost immediately after I signed my agreement for purchase of flat another friend of mine came up with an idea which I couldn't resist to join in. This friend later told me that even if now I am kind of cash strapped, it was a good decision to buy the flat. I hope so, that is the case :) In the meantime I keep working on my ideas, and hopefully I am of some use for this society and a wonderful nation that has given me so much.


Reflection on my mother 

I always used to jokingly tell my mother, that I would be retiring at the age of 35. Sometimes, I felt that I was quite serious about it. Unfortunately, my mother didn't stay to see me turn 35. If not so long ago, people bought a house when they retired, I can consider my self retired ;) Its kind of a funny feeling however, since you still have to payback a good amount of loan! So I keep working :)





1 comment:

yogeshwagh said...

It is always a good decision to buy/setup your own house. In fact, you would be retiring at the age of 35 as you would be working for yourself. Keep it going. :)