When you’re looking through a property at an open home, look beyond the floral display on the bench or the smell of fresh bread coming from the oven… it’s time to look under the hood.
When you’re buying, it’s always good to take off the rose-tinted glasses for a bit and take a surgical look at what nasty surprises might be lingering behind the walls, under the floor or above the ceiling. Even if you’re still going to buy, at least you’ll know in advance what you’re really buying and roughly how much the repairs will cost - this could affect how much you offer or could become something you negotiate with the seller if they counter your first offer.
Things to look for:
- How much storage does the property have? Can it be easily added?
- Is there adequate water pressure?
- Does it tick your boxes for what you’re looking for (sun, bedrooms, bathrooms, views, outdoor living etc)?
- Ask the agent some direct questions, e.g. what insulation does the property have? Has it been rewired and when?
- You could also ask about potential issues that may be relevant to an area or an era, eg. leaky building, earthquake damage and subsidence.
- Look at the physical condition of the property - inside and out. Are the floorboards wobbly?
- Does the roof look in good condition or is it being held together by the rust?
- Is it in dire need of a repaint (or can you put up with the mint green exterior for a year or two?).
- Is there a peculiar smell anywhere?
If you’ve found your dream home and have time before the deadline, it could be worth getting a builder’s report on the property. This can range from a general look-see by your builder mate to an in-depth report by a professional building inspector, and can pick up on things like dodgy wiring and plumbing, to spotting asbestos materials and shonky piles.
You might even want to get an independent valuation on the property (your lender might want it too) to give you an idea on whether your offer’s in the right ballpark and whether the property’s worth it. Your valuer might also be able to give an idea of what renovations could add the greatest value to the property once you’ve bought it.