THERE are lots of good reasons to take advantage of an ‘Open For Inspection’ opportunity provided by local real estate agents to visit a house in your area of interest. And you don’t even have to be in the market for a property yourself. Certainly these events provide you with an obligation free chance to take a look at a property you might be interested in buying but it can also be useful to visit another house under these circumstances if you are thinking of selling your own home in the near future simply to see how, and how not to present a home for sale.
Even if you only want to have a ‘sticky beak’ or are interested in visiting a house for a few renovation ideas… the agents involved aren’t going to question your motives too closely. But, if you are a prospective buyer, there’s a bit of homework to be done if you want to get the best out of an open for inspection.
Inspecting a Property
There will be several homes open for inspection in your area each weekend and once you have shortlisted some potential properties the next stage is to attend on the day, in the hours listed. As most open inspections are held at similar times and on similar days it is important to plan your inspection schedule to ensure you don’t miss viewing properties of interest. As a property buyer you should view a property several times before deciding to buy it. The first visit will give you an initial impression and will allow you to determine if the property meets requirements such as location, size, age, style and access to facilities. A second visit will allow you to identify things you may have overlooked on your first visit, as well as clarify any questions you may not have asked the agent.
What to bring
When you enter a property at an open inspection, you may be asked to provide proof of identity as well as contact details to the agent. This is a security measure. It is not a legal requirement for you to leave your details with an agent at an open house, but sellers can make this a condition of entry to their property. Aside from proof of identity, it is also advisable to bring a checklist and/or notepad to write detailed notes about the property.
What to look for
When inspecting the property there are a few things you should look out for, aside from those items on your wish list.
A major structural issue can add significant costs to home ownership. Some of the key structural issues you should look out for include:
• Sloping or bouncy floors may mean stumps need replacing.
• Damp brick walls can indicate rising or salt damp.
• Blisters or bubbles on paintwork can indicate termite activity.
• Cracked walls can indicate subsidence, requiring the replacement of stumps.
• Mouldy walls, lifting tiles, peeling paint or pools of water in wet areas can indicate excessive moisture.
• Fretting (cracked) brickwork can indicate major structural problems.
Make sure to visit the property at different times of the day to determine traffic and noise levels.
The street may be peaceful and quiet in the morning but in the evening, it may overflow with traffic.
Further down the track it might be useful to introduce yourself to the neighbours you are going to be living alongside for years to come, bearing in mind you’re investing a lot of money right next door.
When inspecting the property make sure to find out the proximity of the property to key services such as public transport, supermarkets and even schools. Although these services may not be important to you they may be important to a potential buyer in the future when you decide to sell the property.
Use a checklist
When inspecting a home it is beneficial to use a checklist to conduct a thorough review of the property. Checklists can reveal problems a home may have which may indicate to you that major repairs are needed on the home.
• Is the price negotiable? Any offers already made?
• Auction dates/sale pending
• Land size/house size
• Age and condition of home (rising damp, easements, building projects next door or nearby, proximity to schools, shops etc.
• Bedroom sizes, air conditioning, heating,
• Connection to services including natural gas etc.
• Condition of bathroom, tiles, shower recess etc.
• Conditions outdoors etc
It is often a good idea to take another set of eyes or two for questions you hadn’t thought about yourself.
• Is there sufficient sound proofing? If you are looking to buy a unit or apartment, it is important to check if the property has sufficient sound proofing so you don’t have to listen to your neighbour’s music or conversations. Take particular notice of the building materials used and if they are solid and sturdy to provide a good sound barrier.
• Is there sufficient insulation? Ensure you ask or check the type of insulation the property has, to ensure the property is well insulated for the cold and hot months. This will also affect things such as heater and air conditioner running costs.
• Do special restrictions apply? Some local councils have restrictions on the type of changes that can be made to a property. These are generally known as covenants and can affect everything from the style of a fence or even the colour of a roof.
• Are there potential zoning changes? Find out if there are any changes to zoning planned for the area before you consider buying and decide if these are a possible advantage or disadvantage to the area and property value.
For flat and apartment hunters, questions about body corporate fees and management arrangements can be make or break issues, while parking and use of common areas and facilities are other areas of interest.