Don’t Buy Before You’ve Viewed

These days most buyers are using online property portals like Private Property when house hunting due to the convenience, up to date information and variety on offer. “The property portals have revolutionised the way buyers shop, but they do need to be cautious – viewing photos online is no replacement for viewing the property in person,” says Bruce Swain, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group.

Relying on photos and video alone can be tempting, especially when relocating to another province, but Swain notes that there have been many cases where properties have been mispresented by misleading or even digitally altered photos. “When it comes to deciding on where to live, which has massive implications in terms of finances and quality of life, it’s very important to know exactly what you’re buying,” believes Swain.

What to look out for:

Take special notice of any neglected maintenance while touring the property – small things like grout that needs to be replaced could indicate that other regular maintenance has also been neglected. Swain shares that; “One of the biggest tips we can share with buyers is to ask the agent showing the property specific questions, especially if there seems to be cause for concern – get as much information as possible before making an offer.

While sellers have to be forthcoming with problems, the voetstoots clause does protect them to a large degree and buyers would be well advised to be thorough when vetting a property.”

Swain highlights four areas to inspect carefully when viewing a property: 

The kitchen

“The kitchen is always a must see as renovating this area, and the bathroom, tends to be the most expensive. Buyers need to have a look at the finishes in the kitchen as well as opening cupboards and looking at the ceiling to see if there are any damp spots”, advises Swain. A musty smell, warped paint and mould are all signs that there could be problems with the insulation and/or plumbing.

 It’s also important to inspect the built-in appliances (should they be included in the sale).

The bathroom

“Key elements to check-off in the bathroom include the finishes, opening the taps to see what the water pressure is like, to ask about the state of the geyser and the plumbing,” believes Swain. Another tip is to test the hot water to ensure that the geyser is working properly.

Common areas

When walking around lift up area rugs where possible to ensure that they’re not covering damaged flooring. In coastal areas this could help to identify damage caused by wood boring beetles.

The outside

It’s important to take a walk not just through the property, but around it as well. Swain explains that, “Most properties will have small cracks in the plaster which are not a problem, however any large cracks need to be queried as these could point to problems with the actual structure”.

A walk around the property will also allow buyers to examine the roof (if possible, if not ask detailed questions about leaks and if there’s concern, include a suspensive condition in this regard – subject to a professional inspection). Look at the state of the gutters, window frames (check for rot if they’re wooden, rust if they’re metal) and the landscaping; “A well-tended garden shows a level of care and the chances are good that the rest of the property is well cared for too,” says Swain.

While it’s impossible to identify all potential issues during a viewing, ticking off this checklist will go a long way to ensuring that the buyer knows what they’re getting and can negotiate with the seller to correct and patent defects as part of the sales agreement.


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