As Fiji develops and stamps its mark in the Pacific as the ideal destination for tourism, education, trade and investment, the urban drift is becoming more pronounced. Statistics released in the National census carried our last year reveals that 56% of Fiji’s population live in urban areas. This places a very big strain on the limited housing and getting the ideas place to rent or live in may be at times a hassle and a big task to undertake.
Here are some tips when you look for a place to rent or buy
1. Budget and set your amount for rent.
At times, we tend to get carried away when we are introduced to a place. It may be the house or flat of your dreams that we do not think of the long run.
Can we afford it?
Does this mean I will have to cut back on stuff like meals, fuel, bus fares, pet food, etc?
Is my salary or is our combined salary able to pay the rent/house and at the same time ensure that the needs of the family are met?
Budgeting will ensure that you set a realistic target for yourself say for example $500 with a maximum of $800 if you are renting or in the case of buying a house through a bank loan, . Therefore when you go and search, you will try your best to remain within that range.
2. Look for an area which best suits your needs as well as that of your family
Many landlords have very specific requirements when letting out their premises. Their requirements at times range from - no pets, no children, single or newly wed couples preferred, no extra people to come in, no visitors after 10pm. Therefore it is advisable to ask questions when you go and check out a place. This will avoid any disputes in the future.
Also, check out the area or locality before putting pen to paper. Some factors to take into account are the distance from the main road, the frequency of public transportation, distance from the nearest health centre, police station as well as to the shops. It would also be advisable to look into the road conditions, street lights and other services.
Another area which we should always consider is whether the area is flood prone, is water cut a problem or are there any other issues which need to be taken into account. At times, a property can be on the market for a discounted amount and while it may be cheap, you will need to know any issues that .
3. If in doubt, refer to the specialists - Real Estate Agents & salespersons
As more and more homeowners find out the benefit of using a real estate agent or salesperson, this allows for a wide variety of places to choose from. Fiji has over 70 real estate agents and over 210 salespersons who have been approved and certified by REALB or the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board. This allows for anyone looking for a new place a wider variety of agents to deal with and would also mean lesser hassle. Real Estate Agents have their own listings and clients and when approached, they will be able to assist and at times do the running around for you.
4. Real Estate Agents Licensing Board (REALB)
This is a Government statutory body set up to regulate real estate agents and their salespersons in the country. REALB is mandated by the Real Estate Agents Act 2006 which empowers the Body to give approvals and certifications to real estate agents, salespersons as well as Branch managers. The Board also disciplines any salesperson or agent if a complaint is lodged with REALB. If you have faced any problems with a real estate agent, you can always go to REALB.
When considering to rent, always remember that there is a rental freeze in place. This basically means that the landlord can not charge you a different rwill be in place up until December 31st 2018. The only way in which the landlord can increase the rent is if he or she has done renovations and has received approval from the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission or FCCC to increase the rent. You will be able to see this by asking the landlord to sight his or her receipt book and to also show you the approval from FCCC to increase the rent. There are times when the rents are dictated by the landlords without following the proper channels and the client will take the flat as he or she is in a desperate need to shift. Therefore it is always advisable to consider all these factors before signing or agreeing to anything.
5. Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission or FCCC
FCCC is also a statutory Government body set up by the Fijian Government to ensure that there is a integrated framework for the regulation of monopoly market structure, encourage competition, prevent restrictive trade practices, ensure consumer protection and undertake pricing of price controlled items. It is governed by the FCCC Act of 2010 and is to ensure a fair and equitable market as well as provide stimulus for growth.
For first time home buyers, remember that the Fijian Government has set aside a subsidy called the First Time Homeowners Grant. If you earn less than $50, 000 you are eligible to $15, 000 if you are buying a piece of land and will build your own house and $10, 000 if you are buying a ready made house. Always read between the lines, when buying a property, always check if there are outstanding taxes, ground rentals or city rates to be paid, has the house been passed by a certified engineer, are all the essential utilities like electricity and water working fine, does the house meet the stated amount.
In wrapping up, renting your own place or even owning your 1st house is one of the many things we can tick from our bucket list but to do that with satisfactory results, always ensure you do your homework to avoid disappointment.