A buyer’s checklist for home inspections

It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement attending a home inspection, and you may miss those finer details that could cost you thousands in repairs down the track. An open house is a huge opportunity to learn as much about the property as possible. Here is a checklist of things to look for and things to avoid.

1. Follow your senses

Be on the alert for anything that that doesn’t smell, look, sound or feel right. Even before you step into the house, look up at the roof. Any loose or missing tiles may suggest structural problems.

Any musty or mouldy smells may be signs of dampness, ventilation issues or water damage. Saggy ceilings and peeling plasterboard may further suggest water damage. Test the taps and flush the toilet, as any unusual or clattering sounds may point to plumbing issues. Cracks in the walls and ceilings may indicate the house’s foundations are unstable and costly to repair in the long run.

Do any rugs, plants or couches look out of place? There’s a possibility they may be positioned strategically to cover up stains or damage.

2. Ignore the décor

Houses are dressed to sell, so don’t be distracted by the attractive furniture and immaculate landscaping, and assess the house as though it were in a “bare shell” state. Try to imagine how you will use each room and take the time to measure them. Furniture can be smartly arranged in a room to make it look more spacious than it is.

3. Be realistic

Do the kitchen and bathroom areas live up to your standards? Can you live with them are they are, or are you willing to spend additional money to renovate these areas? With kitchen renovations costing around $10,000 and bathrooms typically a lot more, you should be prepared to factor in the extra cost and time if you want to go down this route.

4. Check out the surroundings

Get a feel for the neighbourhood. Go for a scroll and see who or what your potential neighbours may be like. Find out what amenities you’re close to, such as public transport, shops, schools—maybe even the local café.

Visiting the property at different times of the day and week can give you an idea of traffic and noise levels and other points of concern. The street may be quiet in the middle of the day, but is it overflowing with traffic in peak hour? Is the place situated underneath a flight path? Does the industrial estate around the corner waft a bad smell when the wind blows?

5. Ask the agent questions

Arrive early to the inspection to give yourself extra time to quiz the agent with any questions you have. Things to ask about include the property’s history, previous renovations or repairs, how long it’s been on the market, if any offers have been made, and why the vendor wants to sell. Listen to questions that other potential buyers are asking, and the agent’s responses to them, as you may pick up on things you hadn’t considered.

5. Get building and pest inspections done

If you’re serious about buying, you should arrange for a building and pest inspection before committing to a purchase. Underlying damage or structural issues may not be obvious or visible, and a trained expert can help identify problems and potentially help you avoid expensive repairs down the track. Of course, you can still decide you want to go ahead and the buy the property, but at least you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate on the price with the knowledge you have.

Buying property is a big financial decision, so speak with one of our highly experienced brokers to find out how much you can borrow and what loan is right for you.