A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

What has kept us on our toes

Posted by Pepper on April 8, 2014

A few months ago, we started looking for a house to buy in Mumbai. The decision was made after a lot of deliberation. That would be a post by itself. After conquering all our uncertainties, fears and hesitation, we decided to consider buying a home in this city. It would be good to finally free ourselves of restrictions like ‘no nail on the wall’ in a rented apartment and be done with the ever increasing rents and recurring brokerage.

If you have any idea of the cost of real estate in Mumbai, I expect you to bow down to us for even thinking of buying a home in this city. Unless you are rolling in riches yourself. But if you belong to the regular working class category that we do, you will realise exactly what we are getting ourselves into. This has been a roller coaster for us.

Since we’re talking about Mumbai, we made ourselves forget that the city even existed beyond the suburbs. Because even the suburbs are costing us the sky, we’ve had to regretfully give up all thoughts of looking at homes beyond a far off suburban boundary. Not cool, I know.

At first, we’ve had to cope with tremendous heart ache. The past 5-7 years have seen a vast boom in real estate. Homes that were bought in 40-50 lakhs cost between 1.5 to 2 crores today. And in some areas, the difference in the cost and sale price of the house is menacingly glaring at us.

That boom has now ended. The prices will no longer jump like they did. Not for a while atleast. I am not sure we will benefit with the same kind of appreciation. People who bought homes in those times lucked out. And now, when I realise I have to pay a crore and a half for what was worth less than a quarter of that amount, I cringe. But since there is no point in crying over spilt milk, I try not to think about it. But really, when there is so much money at stake, it is hard to not feel the heartburn.

We’ve had two brokers laugh at me when I went up to them and said I was interested in buying a home. No kidding. The first time, I went with my dad. Mint wasn’t around. The broker spoke only to my dad, even though I was the one asking him questions. When my dad finally told the broker that it was me who was interested in buying a house, he let out a laugh, looked at me and said “YOU want to buy?”. Huh? What am I to make of that reaction. I suppose the world can see how little we can afford. But laughing on my face? Hmph!

The second broker too thought I was wasting his time by discussing things with him.  He told me it would be better if he had the discussion directly with the prospective buyer. He too let out a small laugh when I told him I was the prospective buyer. Mint told me I should have told him that if he thought I didn’t seem worthy enough to talk to, I could walk out. Sigh. My sister’s theory is that I look ‘too young’ to buy a house, which is why they react that way. False consolation? Perhaps.

We spent weeks looking for a suitable home to buy. We really didn’t think we could afford anything more than a 1 bhk as of now. Since it was just the two of us, we thought it was okay. We would upgrade to a bigger house in a few years. But all the homes we saw were tiny, ridiculously space starved and very congested. In a 1 bedroom apartment, the living room wasn’t even big enough to accommodate a dining table. I was beginning to get depressed.

To add to that, we had to deal with crazy expectations. People everywhere expected us to make a huge chunk of the payment in black. It took me a long time to even understand what black money really meant. If you want the house at a lower price, pay part of the sum in cash. If you want to pay fully in white, be prepared to pay much more. That is how it worked. Other than the fact that we wouldn’t be eligible for the amount we wanted for our home loan if we paid partly in black, I was just not willing to give in to the idea of doing anything underhand. Even if it meant paying 20-30 lakhs more. Honesty comes at a big price! But I insisted. I wanted a seller who would accept 100% white money. That limited our options drastically.

After sweating it out everyday and after a long, labourious search, we managed to find something that we thought was appropriate in all senses. Not perfect. Not spectacular. But the best we could find given our circumstances. Our broker called my dad one evening and asked us to see a flat which happens to be in the building right next to my parents’. Ofcourse, it seemed ideal on so many levels. Except for the fact that my parents live in a relatively expensive township. And that this was a 2 bhk. Making this house way out of our budget.

All the same, we went ahead and closed the deal. I will probably do the hows and whys in a sequel post. I was unbelievably excited, until we were hit by a massive problem – the one I have so far referred to as our ‘personal crisis’. We’re still not through. But I am trying not to be bogged down, at the same time, not allowing the excitement to sink in until we sail through completely. More in Part 2.


34 Responses to “What has kept us on our toes”

  1. Jazz said

    Tell me about it girl.. We are house hunting since more than a year in Bhubaneswar, prices have sky rocketed in that little city too.. And add to it we living so far away.. Anyway I really hope you cross the hurdles and get to celebrate your achievement.. Good luck guys.. :))

    • Jazz said

      And what with the brokers laughing .. I agree with Mint, should not have let them get away.. But I think your sis is right too

    • Pepper said

      Prices have sky rocketed in Bhubaneswar too? Wow. I wonder where all this will lead to. Sometimes I think real estate is only a bubble that is waiting to burst. But who knows?

      Thanks for wishing us luck, Jazz.

  2. Buying a house..in Mumbai ?!!
    Yes, I do bow to thee 🙂

    And, you guys closed the deal already! A second long bow for that one.

    Very hearty congratulations to you both. Huge Step.
    Whatever the crisis , I sincerely hope it resolves with no hassle

    Psst: We closed a deal in Bay area very recently and I know/feel the pains of the pockets draining 😀 More in a post sometime.

    • Pepper said

      For some reason AHK, I already guessed you guys closed a deal in the Bay Area. I figured that from a comment you had made somewhere 🙂 Well, buying a house in the Bay Area is equally bow worthy. Bigger congratulations to you, because I am guessing you guys are looking at it long term. We, on the other hand bought it mainly for investment and may consider selling it in the new few years. Don’t even know where we will end up living when I think long term. Not sure. Let’s see. 🙂

  3. stutigupta said

    Take care, Pepper. I can totally understand your angst, buying a house in mid-twenties is taxing. We were fooled by our brokers into buying a white elephant which we are no longer able to sell.
    It will get better, hugs.

  4. R's Mom said

    Sigh! the real estate prices in Bombay 😦 Its horrendous how the prices have risen like crazy….Hope things fall in place for you 🙂

  5. Omg..can tell you we went through a lot of this and had the same kind of experience when we started considering buying a flat in Bombay a year ago. Realizing that our budget would not get us anything in the areas we wanted , we gave up on it.Our problem was also more complicated because we were trying to do all this within a 20 day trip to India and keep both our families involved and happy in the process. So sadly , owning property in Bombay is still a dream and will continue to be for maybe many years, unless we change our line of work and rake in the moolah in some alternate careers! Can’t wait to read the next post on this and am hoping you were successful and are now home owners!

    • Pepper said

      Sigh.. see, I really wonder, if people earning in dollars find it so hard to buy a house in Mumbai, how on earth will the regular middle class here ever afford good housing! It is so sad!

      And trying to buy a house in 20 days? Whoa. That would be really tough. Perhaps a longer trip will help. I wish you all the luck!

  6. meghajamba said

    Love the way you put your feelings into words 🙂

    Please do share your experience with ‘House buying’. We (as in me n my hubby) would be in the same situation in about a year.
    Looking forward to Part 2!

    • Pepper said

      I think the experiences with house buying are different in different cities. I can surely be of help if you are looking at buying something in Bombay. For other cities, I am not sure my experiences will help. The dynamics are entirely different. 🙂

  7. Shweta said

    I exactly know how you feel Pepper!! The real estate prices have soared beyond imagination.

    We have our place being redeveloped and yet are apprehensive to pay for the ‘extra’ petty area the builder offers. Since it is being made into a expensive skyscraper, they charge some ‘super build up’ rate and the little ‘extra’ costs us almost the price of another property away from the prime area! So we have decided to stay with which we will be offered by the builder…

    Hope the architect can weave some magic and make the place look a tad spacious! Sigh!

    • Pepper said

      Shweta, these redevelopment projects are a steal! You profit and benefit massively in most cases when the building goes for redev. Imagine, from an old run down building you get a home in a swanky new skyscraper! Extra space or not, you are fortunate ..:D You don’t talk of prices 😛

      • Shweta said

        Yes that definitely is a boon… but you have to have your patience in the place you stay coz these take really long to arrive on a decision… We stayed in the ‘almost falling’ building for 6 years before we were blessed with redevelopment blessing.. :p

  8. Bhavani said

    Awesome Congratulations!!! you should be proud and excited!! waiting for Part 2 and hope your crisis resolves soon…


  9. Bow to thee for planning to buy a house in Mumbai in your twenties !!! Being an architect myself just a word of advice … Don’t buy anything now coz there are a lot of revisions in the development control rules (DCR) so no one knows what exactly is to be done and since the new rules are very strict the developers are waiting for the change in govt so that maybe they get some relaxation.So buying a property in a under development stage project as of now is a risk coz they might not be able to provide exactly what is promised because of various factors.Let me know if u need any more infro ..,wud be happy to help !!!😃

    • Pepper said

      Hey, I didn’t know you were an architect! I would have bugged you with a lot of questions had I known it earlier. Anyway, we’ve already closed the deal now. And the house we’ve bought isn’t a new construction, so I guess the new rules are not applicable here. Will pass on this info to a friend who is looking for homes in under construction buildings though. Thanks!

  10. Ashwathy said

    Yeah I was going to ask the same thing… maybe becoz you look too young to purchase a flat on your own? But still!! Laughing in your face is a bit too much 😐

  11. MR said

    congrats, wonderful. hope you have many happy years in your new home. dont worry ( i say that often), we bought a house in boston 4 yrs a ago when we moved here after we sold our house in MI for a huge loss ( thank u market) .
    the first year i lived with a churning sensation in my stomach and then setteled down, now its all in the past, you wont believe the cost cutting i tried 🙂 you will be fine. it shall ease and you will enjoy your life. you have a support adn sounding board adn friend in your spouse, what more do you need.
    yes prices in bombay are insane , i bought my flat in the early 90″s and it was tough then cant imagine now !!!!

    • Pepper said

      That is the thing with the real estate market. You never know when you will hit it and make tons of money, or when you will incur a huge loss. It is all about chance and luck.

      I am glad you were able to overcome that feeling of loss. Please please do share your cost cutting tips. God knows we will need those now.

      Also, prices in early 90s were way, way, wayyy different from what they are today. Trust me, this property you have in Bombay has made up for all the loss you faced while selling your house in MI! 😀

  12. Smita said

    Congrats dear 🙂

    And buying a house in Mumbai!!!!! Well I have written a series on it….

    Part 1 http://books-life-n-more.blogspot.in/2011/11/project-buying-home-in-mumbai-part-1.html
    Part 2 http://books-life-n-more.blogspot.in/2011/11/house-search-chronicle-part-ii-dream.html
    Part 3 http://books-life-n-more.blogspot.in/2012/02/home-search-chronicle-part-iii-this-one.html
    Part 4 http://books-life-n-more.blogspot.in/2012/05/home-search-chronicles-part-iv-getting.html
    Part 5 http://books-life-n-more.blogspot.in/2012/07/home-search-chronicles-part-v.html

    When you read these you will know that I empathise with you!! totally!!

    • Pepper said

      I already did go through some of these earlier, Smita! Can’t tell you how I empathized with you too. Gosh, this is such a crazy city to buy a home in..

  13. Sri said

    Hey Congratulations!:)

    Even in Chennai, prices are soaring day by day..land that used to cost about 25 lakhs has risen to 40 lakhs in a year-this in the suburbs!

    Hubby and me bought a house each which we could afford based on our budget..we looked primarily at tax savings..we decided to forego the joy of staying in our own home in favour of staying in the heart of the city and close to our work places and our daughter’s school…we have relatively good owners who don’t place too many restrictions..hoping to continue this arrangement until we are able to afford our spacious dream home within the city!

    • Pepper said

      You and your hubby bought a house each? What! Is this even possible! Wow. Sorry, I am so taken aback because such indulgence is not even possible in my world. Which is why I find it that hard to fathom and comprehend.

      Okay, let me try and recover. Congratulations to both of you on being individual home owners! I wouldn’t mind staying in a rented apartment at all if I was having 2 other homes to fall back on. And you live in a rented apt right in the heart of the city. Such big achievements. Good going! I am sure the spacious dream home within the city will come to you soon 🙂

      • Sri said

        Hey, we bought houses in the suburbs…where we can never stay..they are so far from office..maybe our retirement homes!

        Anyway, thanks!:)

        Hoping to sell both houses in the future…at the current prices, even if we sell them, we cannot afford a flat in the city!

  14. Reading all this is already giving me jitters, because the better half and I plan to start looking for houses in Delhi in next few months. And I already know where we will stuck getting a place in our affordable range in the same locality where we have been living :(.

  15. I bought a home in India when I was 24 on 80% loan but went through lot of struggles not having a coapplicant for loan.now I don’t remembers all of them. Home buying is never easy and straightforward whether it’s in India or us. Telling from my experience from both countries .

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