A residential apartment is an autonomous housing unit that consists of bed rooms, living rooms, kitchen, bath rooms, etc. It occupies only a part of a building. Apartments may be owned by an owner or by rented tenants. In commonwealth countries, the term 'flat' is used to describe apartments.

Apartments can be broadly divided on the basis of size as follows: Studio apartments / efficiency/ bed sit / bachelor or bachelorette style apartments - are the smallest size apartments, designed especially for rent purpose. Such an apartment generally consists of a large room which is the combined dining, living and bed room. Even the kitchen facility is combined in these apartments barring the bathrooms. Bachelor or efficiency style apartments are at times smaller than studio apartments.

One bed room apartments are those in which one bed room is separated from the rest of the apartment. Similarly there are two bed room sets, three bed room sets etc. Small apartments have only one entrance unlike large apartments which may have more than a single entrance.

A garden apartment has some characteristics of a town house with each apartment having its own entrance and separate apartments are not placed vertically over one another. However, a garden apartment is usually one storey and never more than two stories. Some garden apartment buildings place a one-car garage under each apartment with pedestrian entrance from a common courtyard. The grounds are landscaped compared to other modestly scaled apartment.

Some important points to keep in mind while buying a residential apartment are:

  • Locality – Proximity to workplace, educational institutions, hospitals, shopping areas, entertainment center, transportation, pollution levels.
  • Quoted area of the flat i.e. Carpet, Built Up Area and Super Built Up Area
  • Car parking space
  • Quality of construction
  • Reputation of the builder or seller
  • Sufficient water and electric supply and other utilities
  • Cost components like price, stamp duty, registration charges, transfer fees, maintenance charges and other payments
  • Appreciation of the property for resale and rental
  • Other distinguishing features or advantages of the property

Carpet Area is the area enclosed within the walls, actual area to lay the carpet.

Carpet Area is the total usable area enclosed within the four walls of an apartment or commercial space. It refers to the actual area over which a carpet can be laid if required by the owners. It does not include the thickness of the inner walls.

Built-Up Area is the carpet area plus the thickness of outer walls and the balcony. Super Built - Up Area is the built up area in addition to the proportionate area of common areas such as the lobby, lifts shaft, stairs, etc. The plinth area along with a share of all common areas proportionately divided amongst all unit owners make up the Super Built-Up area. At times it may also include the common areas such, swimming pool, garden, clubhouse, etc. The term is therefore only applicable in the case of multi-dwelling units.

The breakup of areas is extremely essential as builders can place any space from 65% to 85% per cent of the super built area as carpet area. It would then imply that if the area is quoted as 1,000 sq ft super built up area, the carpet area could be anywhere from just 650 sq ft to 850 sq ft. If this break up is not mentioned in the agreement, demand that the vendor/ builder mention it in the sale deed.

It is definitely important to inspect the property before purchase as probably it is one of the largest single investments made by most buyers. It is crucial to know all the details of the property and need for any major repairs / modifications before it is purchased. It is easy to crosscheck the commitment made by builder and actual implementation if a pre-purchase inspection has been carried out. A close inspection points out the positive and negative aspects of the property, as well as the maintenance that will be necessary to keep it in good shape. Few important points to check while inspecting are:

  • Plumbing systems, drainage, water faucets and sanitary fittings.
  • Electrical systems, circuit breakers, wires, capacity of the electric meter and functioning of light fittings.
  • Roof, walls, ceilings, floors, paint work.
  • Foundation, basement and visible structures.
  • Doors and windows, latches, locks.
  • Structural stability of the building.

The checklist should include the following points:

  • Property identification
  • Crosschecking current market rates of properties in the vicinity and last known transactions and current market trends
  • Formulation of commercial terms
  • Distinguishing between negotiable and fixed terms and conditions of the contract, like price, payment schedule, time of completion etc
  • Availing services of Propmart for legal opinion, valuation or property related matters
  • Verifying clear titles of the property and acquiring photocopies of the all deeds of title related to the property to be purchased. Examination of the deeds to establish the ownership of the property by seller, preferably through an advocate
  • Ascertaining the survey number, village and registration district of the property as these details are required for registration of the sale. Previous encumbrances and loans, if any on the property must be cleared before completion of purchase of the property
  • Finalizing commercial terms of purchase of the property. Ascertain transfer fees, stamp duty and registration charges to be paid on purchase of the property
  • Ascertain outgoings to be paid for the property i.e. property tax, water and electricity charges, society charges, maintenance charges
  • Request vendor to obtain, if applicable, a consent, permission, sanction and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) of various authorities like society, income tax authority, Municipal Corporation, the competent authority under the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act and any other authority
  • If a loan is required for property purchase, financial institutions must be contacted for a pre approval letter. As many options are available for loans, Propmart can also assist in loan requirement procedures and options
  • Permanent Account Number (PAN) of vendor and purchaser under Income Tax laws must be ascertained
  • Payment of stamp duty on the formal agreement or document for transfer of the property, signing by both the Vendor and Purchaser and registration
  • After payment of the entire sale price, the buyer can take over legal possession of the property and s/he must check the receipt of original documents from the Vendor of the property
  • Ensure that property holder's name is changed in all related records like society, electric company, Municipal Corporation, index II etc

Sale Deed also known as Conveyance Deed is a document by which the seller transfers his right to the purchaser, who, in turn, acquires an absolute ownership of the property. The document is executed subsequent to the execution of the sale agreement and after compliance of various terms and conditions detailed in the sale agreement.

A Draft Sale Deed contains full details of the parties, advance amount paid, mode of balance amount payable, receipt of the balance amount by the seller, handing over the original documents of the property, handing over the possession of the property, handing over the authorization letter to transfer power and water meters, signing of the application for transfer of ‘khata’, title of the seller of the property, indemnifying the purchaser in case of defect in the title and easement rights and is prepared by the purchaser's advocate.

A Khata is an account of assessment of a property, recording details about the property such as size, location, built up area and so on, for the purpose of payment of property tax. It is also a kind of identification of the person who is primarily liable for payment of property tax. It is one of the required documents in case the buyer requires a building license, trade license or loan from banks or any other financial institutions.

A Khata is an account of assessment of a property for the payment of tax. The Khata does not confer ownership. However, the Title Deed is the document through which a person derives a title or ownership of the said property.

A leasehold property is that which is leased to a lessee for a stipulated period. The lessee pays lease premium and annual lease amount as fixed and mutually agreed upon by the lessor and lessee. The land ownership rights remain with the lessor and a prior sale-permission is normally required if you plan to transfer the property.

Before buying an apartment it is crucial to carefully examine all types of legal documents related to the building and the land. A buyer can ask for the certificates and documents cleared by the respective agencies or boards with regard to the property. Some points to be verified are as follows:

  • Check whether the property has clear legal titles or not
  • Check whether the developer has the right to transfer the properties and whether he has taken transfer of property approvals from the statutory land development or planning authority or competent authority constituted under the Urban Land Ceiling and Regulation Act and the Income-Tax Act
  • Scrutinize the contract and take help from legal experts before signing

Most of the apartments are by property developers in India and it is essential to check the background of the developer, the builder, the designer and the architect. It must be investigated if there have been any problems with their other developments in past. The financial position of the developer should be strong so that he could complete the project on time if the project is under construction. Investors must find out if the developer has the essential resource and building consents before paying anything.

Yes. In fact, personal preferences form an eminent part of the entire process. Some preferences which help in judging the property include queries like:

  • Does it have a view and sunlight or is it blocked by other buildings or is it facing the wrong way from the sun?
  • Checking whether there any pending resource consents that will probably affect the apartment block in future, for example, plans to build a high-rise hotel next door?
  • Is there a balcony so that the owner can enjoy the view or afternoon sunshine?
  • Are there any other facilities in the complex, like a gym and swimming pool?
  • Probable enquires about your neighbours to find out if noise could be a problem.
  • Are the near-by apartments rented? If so, do the renters constantly change as these types of neighbours could pose a problem later.