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Houses for sale – what inspections should you get?

By Claire Briggs

It seems that every step of the property journey, there is another unexpected task to undertake. If you’re looking at real estate in Perth, Hobart, Sydney, or anywhere else in Australia, you’ll still want to get inspections done before signing on the dotted line. Although this increases your out-of-pocket expenses now, it could save you many thousands of dollars later down the track, whether in negotiations or unexpected and undetected repairs.

Strata reports

When looking at homes for sale in busy central areas, such as inner Melbourne, you might consider and apartment or unit. If your intended new home purchase happens to be in strata scheme, there are quite a few things you might want to know. While the seller is legally obliged to provide certain information, making a fully informed decision could require a strata report.
These kinds of reports usually entail a detailed analysis of the financial standing of the body corporate and the building or development you’re buying into. They could also detail the condition of the building and expected costs over a certain period of time. Strata reports will have different requirements depending on the state you’re in, so make sure you’re inspector is fully qualified.

Pest inspections

These reports can be essential to ensuring your proposed purchase is not subject to infestations of pests that could harm its structural integrity. Termites can affect a large number of homes, and a 2006 study cited by the Victorian government alludes to figures as high as one-in-five houses in some Melbourne and Sydney suburbs.
Making your sales contract conditional on a pest inspection – sometimes called a “white ant condition”, according to the Western Australian government – could save you major heartache and financial cost later down the line.

Building reports

Getting a check done by a builder might seem like a waste of money – after all, what can they see that you can’t? Well, the short answer is: A lot. While you might have a few weeks or even months of experience looking at real estate in Adelaide, or wherever your local market is, a professional builder often has years or decades worth of hands-on, practical and technical knowledge of what makes buildings work.
They can identify alterations that are not up to code, which could cost you in council fines or other complications in the future. It’s also easier for them to identify structural or cosmetic faults which will give you more power at the negotiating table. With the weight of builder’s report behind you, you could be able to settle on a lower price. If there are no faults at all with the property, you can at least rest assured you have made a good purchase. You may also find that your home loan provider is more comfortable, too.

Personal inspections

Although conditions may vary from state to state, you should be able to personally inspect the property before settlement date – often around a week prior. This gives you an opportunity to ask questions you may not have been able to before, but that were not conditions of the sale. Such as, ‘Are there power points in every room?’ or ‘How old is the disposal unit?’.
It’s also a good time to visually take stock of what you can do when you move in, especially if some of the rooms are more bare than they were the last time you saw the property. You will also be able to identify any material defects that could possibly have been hidden from sight (accidentally or otherwise), as well as check that all chattels are present, as per the schedule in the contract.
If you’re unsure which of these inspections you should undertake – or even more specialised reports that may be available – talk to your real estate agent.

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