The home is exactly what you’re looking for at the right price. There are other buyers circling with offers, and you feel an urgency to do something or miss out.
Take a breath. A real estate dream can sometimes end as a nightmare, but with the right advice and a little investigation and patience you can minimise the risk of buying to almost zero.
It all begins with taking the time to ask the right questions of your Sales Consultant and being aware of where to find all the right information that will give you a complete, 360 degree view of the property. The risk-reducing information you are seeking roughly falls into four categories. (Please note: This article in no way intends to be an exhaustive list, but simply advice for home buyers).
Something that potentially devalues the property
If you inspected the home on the weekend, be aware that the peace and tranquillity that impressed you so much may be non-existent during the week. There may be rowdy neighbours, barking dogs, or industrial noise close by, or perhaps a local factory producing unsavoury smells during weekdays. Chances are you will only discover this if you visit the home at alternative times.
The boundaries of the land may have looked obvious, but there may be an easement or crown land bordering the allotment that effectively reduce your property’s size from what it seems. Title searches are available from Government agencies, which will reveal exactly what you are getting for your money in terms of land size, and where you can build any extensions safely and legally.
Be aware that everything you see within the home may not be included. On occasions, sellers may allocate something within as a “chattel” which they intend to take with them after the sale. Ask your Landmark Harcourts Agent for a copy of the chattels inventory. The difference between a fixture (that which must legally stay with the house) and a chattel can be a grey area, and some potential buyers go to the extent of taking a photo of all chattels mentioned. For example, the elaborate storage system in the garage, or even an integrated sound system may be classified as chattels if they are not deemed to be permanently fitted to the home and are listed in the sale contract.
An improvement that may be non-compliant or illegal
Laws and regulations change, so even though a home or structure was compliant and legal at the time it was built, it may now be non-compliant or illegal. Normal wear and tear can have the same affect. Swimming pools are a common case-in-point, with regulations governing pool fencing becoming much more stringent over the years. A pergola built by an owner/builder may look completely acceptable, but only an inspection by a building inspector will give you peace of mind.
Your perceived value of a home could change significantly if you discover that you are responsible for building significant pool fencing or another alteration to ensure your new home meets the appropriate standards.
Building structural flaws
A damp patch in the lawn may indicate faulty water pipes, or mould in the ceiling a leaking roof. A recently survey of over 3000 homes by building inspectors found that one-in-four homes displayed evidence of structural cracking and movement, while one in eight showed structural pest damage which had the potential to damage the integrity of the entire property.
Sometimes significant structural issues are not immediately obvious. For these and many other reasons, viewing a pest and building inspection is a no-brainer. Although a pro-active seller will sometimes have these undertaken before a sale, buyers often prefer an independent inspection.
Too risky for finance
If a property is deemed as high risk of flooding or bush fire or is zoned for commercial development, bank finance may become more expensive or even impossible. Appropriate searches should discover these factors.
Each State in Australia has different laws governing real estate contracts, so your best bet is to have a good talk with your Landmark Harcourts Sales Consultant who will walk you through the finer details of the property, and let you know where you can find further information to give you complete confidence to proceed as needed.