Love It Or List It Australia

What you need to know before buying a house

Imagine this: You’ve just found the property of your dreams and it’s within your budget! While you may have fallen head over heels in love, property expert Andrew Winter says engaging the experts and performing the essential checks can save you a lot of time and money down the track.

It's so easy to get excited when you've found the perfect property. However, with such a big investment comes potentially big problems. Before you commit to buying, know exactly where you stand to avoid any nasty surprises later on.

The importance of a visual inspection

Feel free to be thorough when looking for a potential new home. It's tempting to walk around and picture your furniture in this new space, but you've got to be realistic about your home's condition.

Run the taps, look at the garden and how it lies, as well as the physical structure of the building – you can get a pretty good idea about a home's condition from that. Kitchens and bathrooms and décor are all fittings and can be easily replaced. Updating these things will also add value to your home.

However, structural issues are expensive and might not be easily identifiable. Wiring is pricey if it turns out to be very poor. Drainage systems are plumbing too, so make sure you have a really good look around and get a feel for the condition of the property, ignoring the staging that is there.

You'll need to ask yourself: Is it straight? Is the roofline straight? Is there any evidence of leaks coming from the roof or walls? Rising damp? Is there any soft wood anywhere? And do things like the windows, bathrooms, kitchen and other services work?

Assembling your property A-team

Inspections are essential when buying a property. They will help you identify potential high-cost issues such as odours, hollow walls, dodgy renovations as well as problems with wiring and plumbing.

It goes without saying, but you should always have a building and pest inspection report.

You should have a lawyer, building and pest inspector, general builder, and property valuer. These are the experts you need on hand. Online reviews are all well and good, but take recommendations from people around you. These are the people you know come tried and tested.

What to do if you spot pre-purchase issues

Don't let any problems put you off. If your team has identified a problem, think of it as a positive - they’ve done their job.

Take termite infestation for example. It's never really as bad as people think it is. It depends on how far the termites have eaten into the property and how far they've spread. If they’ve found a corner, it can expand rapidly or it might just be a small portion of the living room wall, which is a relatively simple fix. 

The owner usually doesn’t know about it, so it will be news to them as well. You're in a good position here as the buyer, as the owner has no choice but to sell it at a reduced price or fix it themselves.

However, what you can't expect in these type of negotiations is to gain a really good bargain: it might just be the cost of fixing a problem subtracted off the asking price. But if the problem is solved and it's the right home for you, I'd consider it to be a win/win situation.

Love It Or List It Australia continues Wednesdays, 8.30pm, or watch it your way on Foxtel GO.

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