By Sasha Oelsner
Published: Monday, July 17, 2023
In the words of Darryl Kerrigan, your home is your castle, but what should you look out for so your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare?
Jonathon Kiritsis from Williams Real Estate gives us the inside scoop on what to look for when attending your next open inspection.
1. It’s the vibe
When first walking into a house, Jonathon says you want to gauge the general vibe.
“First impressions are important – what did you think as you stepped through the front door, how did being in the backyard make you feel,” says Jonathon.
“Then, you want to have a good look around to see if there are any significant defects or if there’s evidence of a quick patch up.”
When you attend the open inspection, ask yourself:
- Are there any odd smells?
If the house smells musty, check for signs of mould or damp. Look for patches of discoloured wallpaper or paint and deteriorating skirting boards.
- Is there water damage?
Check inside for discoloured walls and floors, marks on the ceiling and puckering paint. Outside, check the gutters to make sure they aren’t rusted or collapsing.
- Are there signs of termite damage?
Termites can cause major structural damage, so look out for their tell-tale mud tubes around the house and fence lines.
2. Charm. Adds a bit of charm.
While renovating a house for sale is common, sometimes the work is done cheaply as a band-aid solution.
“These days most homes entering the market have patch-ups, de-clutter and styling to assist with the sales and marketing process,” says Jonathon. “However, you can usually tell if the home has been renovated on the cheap if cracks are already starting to reappear, dampness is still showing through freshly painted walls or fixtures and fittings are loose or incomplete.”
- Do the cracks look extensive or patched over?
Sometimes cracks are a small, superficial and cosmetic. On other occasions, they’re a sign of structural problems caused by shifting ground, poor construction, deteriorating foundations or water drainage.
- What type of materials have been used?
Look out for poor-quality materials including flimsy fittings and bubbling countertops – they may not be the marble they looked like in the pictures!
“If you love the house and you’re ready to put an offer down, make sure your offer has one important caveat,” Jonathon says. “Arrange a pre-purchase independent building and pest inspection by a professional.”
3. How’s the serenity?
Don’t rely on an open inspection to familiarise yourself with the area. All suburbs have pros and cons, so do your research before buying.
- What is the neighbourhood like?
Go for a walk around the neighbourhood during the day and take a drive at night. Listen out for disruptive noise, take note of any intrusive lighting and changes to parking access during the day.
- Are you in a flight path?
While this wasn’t a problem for Darryl Kerrigan, low-flying planes can be disturbing – and not apparent – at open inspections.
- What can you hear?
At the open inspection, stand still in each of the rooms and concentrate on what you can hear. Can you hear trucks? Trains? Dogs barking? Some of these disruptions can be remedied with new windows or glazing, but as this is an extra expense, it’s important to be aware of before buying.
4. It’s not a house, it’s a home
Look to the future before committing to a property. Do your research and have a chat with the agent as they will likely know what’s happening in the area and if there are any restrictions on the property.
“Reach out to the agent to find out how much interest there is in the home, and if you can, try to obtain some insight into why the current owners are selling,” Jonathon says.
Here are some more questions to ask yourself (and the agent):
- Are there any utilities located on the property?
Many properties and backyards straddle water, gas and electricity lines, which may cause restrictions on alterations to the property. The council may also need to dig up the yard in an emergency.
- Is there potential for development in the area?
When it comes to compulsory acquisition, there’s little chance of a happy ending like it was for the Kerrigan family! Check whether the property is listed on any council plans where the land may be impacted or acquired as part of future developments in the area.
- Who is in charge?
Find out if the property is operated on a strata basis (usually unit and apartment structures), has a community title or a Torrens title. A community title relates to properties of at least two lots that share a common area, such as a driveway. The landowners are jointly responsible for decisions on that land. A Torrens title means you are solely responsible for both the building and the land, and for maintenance.
The law of common sense
There’s a lot to think about when attending an open inspection, so make sure you go in with a list of questions for the agent. Not only will it help you learn more about the property, it’ll also get you noticed by the agent.
Once you’ve landed your own place with a pool room of your own, don’t forget to insure it – consider getting a quote for RAA Home and Contents Insurance*. If the home doesn’t meet all your expectations, tell ‘em they’re dreaming.
*Disclaimer: Home and Contents Insurance is issued by RAA Insurance Ltd ABN 14 007 872 602. AFSL No. 232525. Limits apply. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement and Target Market Determination available from the RAA website when deciding whether to purchase this product.