As a real estate agent, Sydonie Kirlew fully understands the value of owning property in Jamaica, and that’s why the realtor holds nothing back when encouraging Jamaicans to invest, particularly those with the income to do so.
“You can’t lose off real estate. It is one of the fastest growing investments,” the savvy realtor, who recently purchased property, advised.
The mother of two, who is in her thirties, recently purchased a four-bedroom, two bathroom house on 11,000 square feet of land in the Kingston Metropolitan Region with a mortgage from JN Bank. She explained that for many persons the greatest challenge they face is finding the deposit for the property, although their income qualifies them for the mortgage.
“Jamaica National has made it easier with its 110 per cent offer,” she quipped, championing the bank’s recent Mortgage Plus product, which offers qualified applicants 95 per cent mortgage financing and additional funds, which can be used to cover home-related expenses, such as the deposit, closing costs and even furniture.
“It’s not that they can’t pay back the mortgage, but they don’t have any savings,” she said relating her experience. “Some are paying rent for $40,000 to $45,000 depending on where they are living. If it’s in Kingston it could be more than $100,000. When you check that sum, its money that they could be using to pay their mortgage,” she pointed out.
It was her recognition of this issue which drove Ms Kirlew to pursue purchasing her new property, which she intends to treat as both residential and as an investment for her retirement years.
“I don’t like paying rent, and I always advise my clients, if you can pay rent, then, you can pay the mortgage,” she said, noting that owning a home means independence.
“When you live in a rental property, you can’t do anything to that property without the consent of the landlord. You can’t amend anything, you can’t adjust anything, you have to just live there; however, when you live in your own home, despite how you purchased that property, you can take your time and fix how you want it,” she related.
The process of receiving her first mortgage was simple she said, as JN Bank exceeded her expectations. Her main challenge as a realtor, who earns based on the properties she sells, was to prove her income. However, JN Bank was able to use her bank statements and other payments to establish a pattern that could qualify her for the mortgage.
She said that although her network as a realtor positioned her to contact persons who could speed up her loan process, there was no need to pick up the phone and call anyone, as the process was easy and the persons involved, knowledgeable.
“I was told JN can’t close within 30 days, because another bank had started it and they had to stop. However, I realised that if the attorneys do what they have to do, it’s smooth sailing,” she said, revealing that she received her own mortgage in just a little over 30 days.
“To me that was a very reasonable time.”
Miss Kirlew recently moved out of a house owned by family and into one half of her new home, while she continues to renovate the remainder of the property.
“I have kids and the looks on their face… They are excited because of the land space and my son really loves his own room,” she described her new home. “Being a homeowner makes me feel comfortable, and I enjoy the freedom and privacy,” she concluded, her face glowing with a sense of accomplishment and pride.