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Buyer's Corner

Buyer's Tips and Tricks

What To Look For When Viewing Property At An Open Home 

So you’re ready to start looking for a new home in earnest? Congratulations! Inspecting potential properties can be both fun and at times draining. Before you begin inspecting property at open homes, the best thing to do is to have a list of features in mind. These would be your must-have features, nice-to-have features and deal breakers. 

You’ll probably already have an idea if the property has the features you really want, and now you’re ready to see it up close. So, when inspecting a property, it’s really the best time to look into those deal-breakers. That means getting a good hard look at the properties structure, neighbors, and surrounding area. 

So what should you really be focusing on in an open home? 

The dwelling’s structure 

When viewing a property, chances are the current owners are going to present the interior of the property in the best possible light. They will have cleaned and tidied, perhaps added a new coat of paint, or even had the home styled with beautiful furniture. Whilst these things will help you to appreciate what the home could look like for you, at this stage, it’s more important to focus on the structure. 

Some things to look for include: 

  • Damage from pests. Recent termite damage in wooden structures is a huge red flag. Have a look for bores through wooden frames, or dirt tubes in the foundation or exterior walls that hint to termite infestation. 
  • Poor construction. Windows and doors that jar, or cracks in the walls around doors and windows are both signs of poor construction. 
  • Wet spots on walls or ceilings. Condensation within the home can lead to mold build-up, timber decay, leaks, corrosion and even loss of structural integrity. 
  • Cracks in the foundation. Some small cracks in a home’s foundation can be harmless, but large cracks either running down the foundation or across could mean a home is shifting, which can cause significant structural damage over time. 

If you’re not entirely sure if what you’re seeing is cause for concern, and you are interested in the property, the best course of action is to enlist the services of a qualified building inspector. 

The neighbors 

If you’ve gotten to the stage where you’re inspecting the property, then you probably know a bit about the neighborhood you’re looking in, but what about the neighbors? Take a look at the neighbors on each adjoining border of the property for any clues you might not be comfortable long term. 

  • Are the neighbors’ yards neat and tidy? It might not directly impact on the property you’re considering, but what about when it comes time to sell the property? Would untidy yards next to yours reflect poorly on the area? 
  • Do they have pets? It might not be an issue, particularly if you have pets of your own. But look for problem pets. Is a neighbor’s dog barking non-stop during the inspection? Are animals loose or roaming? Is there evidence of pet damage to shared fences or common areas? 
  • Do you have a comfortable level of privacy? Take a look at different angles around the home, particularly on smaller blocks or apartments. Are you too close to neighbors? Can you easily hear them through the walls? Are certain windows placed directly opposite a neighbor’s window? Is the property fenced off from neighbors? 

The location 

Location means more than the general neighborhood. You may be attracted to the area, but take a look at the property’s exact location for things that may bother you long-term, hurt re-sale value, or cause lifestyle issues. Things to consider are: 

  • The property is on a busy main road: Houses on main roads can attract lower prices than those on quieter, private and less congested roads. You’ll also have to get used to the noise of heavy traffic. 
  • The property is next to a retail or commercial space. This can cause issues with local business traffic, and depending on the type of business, and business hours, there could be additional noise. Also be mindful of properties that are next to land that may be zoned as retail or commercial. Local real estate agents should know this information. 
  • The property’s proximity to a train line. A home close to public transport is always convenient, but a home that shares a border with a train line, for example can cause a lot of excess noise, potentially hurt re-sale value, and cause safety issues for young family members depending on fencing around the property. 
  • Power lines over the land/property. Sometimes found on larger parcels of land, power lines have been known to drop property prices due to being unsightly, sometimes noisy, and due to claims that living close to them long-term can cause health issues. 
  • The property is on a flood plain. Depending on the city, the climate and the proximity to dams, lakes and watercourses, the potential of flooding on the property will be different. Be wary though, during major floods, houses within the same street, let alone the same neighborhood, can be affected differently depending on their position, the house design, and hills and slopes. 

These are just a few considerations to look into when going through an open home. After inspecting a property, continue to do your due diligence. Start to research any areas you’re still unsure of, and if you do decide the home is the one for you, enlist the help of independent property inspectors to cast a professional eye over the property. 

Best of luck in your house-hunting efforts! 



Home Inspections Avert Future Headaches

Suppose you bought a house and later discovered, to your dismay, that the stucco exterior concealed a nasty case of dry rot. Or suppose that when you fired up the furnace in the winter, you discovered a cracked heat exchanger leaking gas into your home. The best way to avoid unpleasant surprises like these is to arrange for a home inspection before you buy. 


Home Inspections Help You Avoid Unpleasant Surprises 

A good home inspection is an objective, top-to-bottom examination of a home and everything that comes with it. The standard inspection report includes a review of the home’s heating and air-conditioning systems; plumbing and wiring; roof, attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, foundation and basement. 


Getting a professional inspection is crucial for older homes because age often takes its toll on the roof and other hard-to-reach areas. Problems can also be the result of neglect or hazardous repair work, such as a past owner’s failed attempt to install lights and an outlet in a linen closet. 


A home inspection is also a wise investment when buying a new home. In fact, new homes frequently have defects, whether caused by an oversight during construction or simply human error. 


Getting an Inspector 

Real estate agents can usually recommend an experienced home inspector. Make sure to get an unbiased inspector. You can find one through word-of-mouth referrals, or look in the Yellow Pages or online under “Building Inspection” or “Home Inspection.” 


Home inspections cost about a few hundred dollars, depending on the size of the house and location. Inspection fees tend to be higher in urban areas than in rural areas. You may find the cost of inspection high, but it is money well spent. Think of it as an investment in your investment – your future home. 


Some builders may try to dissuade you from getting a home inspection on a home they’ve built. They may not necessarily be trying to hide anything because most builders guarantee their work and will fix any problems in your new home before you move in. Some builders, in fact, will offer to do their own inspections. But it’s best to have an objective professional appraisal – insist on a third-party inspector. 


An Inspection Will Educate You about Your House 

Education is another good reason for getting an inspection. Most buyers want to learn as much as they can about their purchase so they can protect their investment. An examination by an impartial home inspector helps in this learning process. 


Ask if you can follow the home inspector on his or her rounds. Most inspectors are glad to share their knowledge, and you’ll be able to ask plenty of questions. 


Inspection Timing and Results 

Homebuyers usually arrange for an inspection after signing a contract or purchase agreement with the seller. The results may be available immediately or within a few days. The home inspector will review his or her findings with you and alert you to any costly or potentially hazardous conditions. In some cases, you may be advised not to buy the home unless such problems are remedied. 


You could include a clause in your purchase agreement that makes your purchase contingent upon satisfactory inspection results. If major problems are found, you can back out of the deal. If costly repairs are warranted, the seller may be willing to adjust the home’s price or the contract’s terms. But when only minor repairs are needed, the buyer and seller can usually work out an agreement that won’t affect the sale price.