When you’re heading out for that all-too-critical inspection, “what lies beneath?” is the question you can keep front of mind to avoid your next purchase becoming a horror movie. Any house that has existed for a few years has seen some action and its possibly the things that you are not seeing that you should be concerned about. Being experts in the conveyancing industry, Bliss Conveyancing has developed relationships with trusted professionals in the real estate, finance and other complimentary industries. We asked them for some tips regarding the first inspection of a property, and here is what we found out:
Take A Breath
If you are house hunting, it’s probably been a months long tirade of long drives, inconvenient parking and trying not to look anxious when other buyers are in the room. This is how mistakes get made, so be sure to take a breath, remember what your goal is and revisit the list of questions you have prepared for the selling agent. If you don’t have a list yet check out our blog on what to consider.
Sense and Sensibility
Use all of your senses while you are at the property, yes, the glass splash-back is to die for and the Italian marble bench is what you always wanted, but what about the home-based fish filleting operation next door?
There are a handful of obvious noise problems to consider such as if the home is on a main road or smack bang next to a railway station; and some noises only become evident after you have moved in, by which stage it is too late.
While you are at the inspection, there is usually a din of noise from other buyers, the agent and things that are going on. Some of the noises that you will grow to hate are not obvious in those few minutes, so if you are feeling serious about this property come and park in the neighbourhood on a Friday or Saturday night and spend a few moments in silence listening to what is going on.
Unless the property is on the border of an industrial area, this may not be much of an issue. However, as people are working from home more, and cottage industries have bloomed in the last couple of years, it’s worth paying attention for any smells that are really out of the ordinary and finding out what they are.
Look at as many aspects of the property as you can. Not just the street appeal, look at the ceiling for signs of mould, sagging or plaster screws beginning to show. Look at the floor and the skirting for signs of warping, large stains or holes. Sure, you will use a licenced building inspector, but if you knew the plaster was about to fall out when you inspected, you might have saved yourself some time and money.
Also, try and see the property at different times of the day. Agents will always attempt to maximise the daylight during an inspection, so perhaps try and arrange one in the evening as well.
Nobody believes in ghosts anymore, however after you move in and find out someone died in the house, night noises do seem a little louder. Make sure you ask the agent about the history of the house, good things to know are:
- Has it ever had major repairs following a catastrophic event;
- Has it ever been subject to flooding;
- Are there any significant events like suicides, meth-labs or fires in the history;
- Was the property a rental, or lived in by the owners; and
- Why are the owners selling.
Also, make sure you give the old faithful Google a chance to inform you about the property and the area. Dive deeper than just the real estate “on the market” results and look for news articles, and forums that discuss the local area or the property.
The listing says “close to shops and schools”, but how close are they and are they the kind of facilities you want? Take a drive, or a walk to all the local facilities, and measure the distance to the property.
Consider where the property sits relative to other houses in the street. Some features to notice are:
- Which direction the property faces (a “North Facing” home, has a garden that faces south);
- Is it similar in style to the other homes (if it’s different, is it good different?)
If you can buy into a street renowned for a particular architectural style, then that home is likely to enjoy greater capital growth, than those homes situated in streets with no clear architectural theme.
When you are inspecting a property, it is often difficult to tell exactly what it will be like to live in; and if there is one thing, we all value deeply in our homes, it’s a bit of privacy.
When inspecting a potential buy, it is important to ask yourself how private the space is, and for how long it will stay that way. Privacy issues you might like to consider are:
- Neighbouring properties that can see clearly into the yard or house;
- Recent, or proposed changes to the zoning in the area to allow for higher-density properties and apartments;
- If it is an apartment make sure there is at least some kind of private (not communal) outdoor space, even if it’s a small courtyard; and
- If you are buying a townhouse or terrace, with shared walls, assess if you are likely to hear your neighbours excessively, or be heard by them.
Privacy considerations are ultimately personal, and these are a good way of framing your thinking.
The high-level considerations above are very important, and so are all the little things that will make your daily life in the property pleasant, or painful. It’s impossible to make an exhaustive list, because what concerns some people, does not concern others. That said, we recommend you consider the following at a minimum:
- Damp patches, or sink holes in the yard
- Signs of dampness in the house
- Condition of gutters and down-pipes
- Condition of the roof
- Power connection (above/below ground)
- Gas connection (natural, bottle)
- Availability of street parking (resident restricted zones)
- Size of the garage (can you get your vehicles in?)
- Size of hot water system
- Bathroom/shower leaks and condition
Short of interviewing the neighbours (it’s been done before) it falls to you as the purchaser to make sure that you know everything you need to know about the property, in order to make the right decision for you and your loved ones. This guide will be a useful tool, and if you would like a referral to a trusted expert, please contact Bliss Conveyancing.