We are often told in our business WOW you are so thorough we wouldn’t use you again for a Sellers Report but definitely would use for a Buyers Report. Really!
Unfortunately, this is just human nature and even the most honest, trustworthy Seller will say the same thing. As a Seller’s intention is to move on and hand over a property which may contain possible problems to some else – it just happens this way. So what can a Buyer do to ensure they aren’t buying a lemon and how can they look out for themselves just as the Seller will?
What is this telling you?
Take off the rose coloured glasses. Remove the emotion I know it’s hard, but there is always another property if this one isn’t right the first time.
As a Buyer, you need to look after yourself because the Seller or Real Estate agent are not there for you as we know the agents are paid by the Seller and their obligation is to the Seller. So who is looking out for the Buyer? No one other than if they surround themselves with a team of buyers advocates? Like a highly respected property inspection company who receives work from other like-minded professionals or word of mouth. You also want to surround yourself with quality Solicitors, Mortgage Brokers, Valuers and any other parties that have 100% the interests of the Buyer at heart.
So as a Buyer what should you look out for when viewing a property – Some are obvious some are not?
- Does the house smell musty or mouldy? Check for any water damage or staining. If the house has a subfloor (an area under the house), open the subfloor door and see if it smells musty.
- Another obvious sign is when scented candles or air fresheners are turned on. The problem may be right under your nose.
- A well-furnished property with stylish furniture presents well. Will it look the same with your furniture?.
- Has the property been freshly painted or touched up? Are the Sellers hiding any problems? Like water leaks.
- If the house has a subfloor, grab a torch and look in this area for pooling water.
- Tap on skirtings around bathrooms and wet areas. If the skirting collapses or is soft to touch, you need a building and pest inspector now or walk away.
- Check that power lines, water tanks or poles haven’t been photo-shopped out of the marketing material.
- Arrange a private viewing of the property at a different time of the day preferably in the morning and then again in the afternoon. You will see how much sun enters the property. The different light will show different problems.
- If the lights are on when you arrive, discreetly turn them off to see how much natural light the property enjoys.
- Take a look behind the blinds and curtains for any water staining on window sills. Or for any unsightly buildings, structures or a peering window from a neighbour.
- Ask the agents as many questions as possible, don’t be shy as they are obliged to answer honestly. So don’t hold back with questions like, has there been any history or current indication of termites if the agents say’s not as far as I’m aware ask them to ask the Seller and then document the discussion. You see if agents aren’t privy to this type of information they will turn a blind eye and prefer not to know if a serious defect or condition exists and plead ignorance. So make sure you ask the agent as many questions about the history of the property as you see fit. Even if there is a Seller report doesn’t mean that there isn’t any damage previously or currently known by the owner, a solid bookcase could be well placed to hide that water leak or termite damage that not even a builder inspector would have been able to see.
- Ask your Solicitor or Conveyancer to review the contract to ensure everything is in order.
- Go for a walk around the suburb and neighbourhood to get a good feel if this is an area you can live and feels right.
- Do your research about the suburb and ask friends, work colleagues and family about particular suburbs. Does it have quality schools, shops and public transport which will help increase the value in the future?
However closely you look at the property and think it has been well maintained the problem is in our emotional attachment – love at first sight. We have had builders engage our services for a property inspection; they want to remain at arm’s length and not let their emotions get in the way of their own buying decisions.
Look through the Sellers offering and make your own informed decisions.
Can you rely on a Sellers report?
In most cases I would have to say no; however, there is probably 1% I would say yes. Our own experience in providing Sellers Reports has been tainted. Especially in the Canberra market by which Sellers Reports are a legislative requirement. Predominately these reports are compromised, limited and disclaimed reports without real clear detail. When the agent and Seller have to organise a report that a Buyer can rely on, what is going to be the behavioural motive lets just get a report that meets the requirements but not really uncover anything too scary. And of course, if the inspection company carries out their job as a Buyer should expect they don’t get any more work from that agent or Seller. Compromised!
Why would you risk your biggest investment of your life in a building and pest report provided by the Seller or a re-sold report to save a few hundred bucks? You tell me!