Get the low-down on high-cost defects

Structural defects do not necessarily develop or show within the first few months after a house has been built – or reappear soon after having been repaired.
“However, unlike other problems that can occur as a home undergoes normal wear-and-tear – such as leaking taps, worn floors and sagging ceilings – their existence at any stage in the history of the home is likely to affect its value, and its resale potential,” says Harcourts Africa CEO Richard Gray.
“Consequently, homebuyers have a right to know if there has been structural damage to any part of a home they intend to purchase – even if that damage has been repaired and is not currently causing any problem.”
What is more, he says, estate agents who have knowledge of any current or previous structural problem are obliged, in terms of their own Code of Conduct as well as the new Consumer Protection Act, to disclose this information to potential buyers, “because it is bound to influence their decision to buy, or the price they are prepared to pay”.
For example, Gray notes, it is unlikely that you would want to buy a house which had cracked due to soil subsidence at some time in the past, even if the cracks had been repaired and were not visible at the time you viewed the property.
Alternatively, if you did decide to buy it, you would surely be inclined to offer less than the asking price, on the basis that the house might well crack again and have to be repaired at your cost.
“Similarly, an estate agent who has been told by a property seller that walls with rising damp or a pool with a leak had to be repaired before the property was put on the market should not neglect to mention these issues to you – even if everything looks fine now.”
Indeed, he says, one of the biggest advantages of buying through properly qualified and registered estate agents, he says, is that they must protect the interests of all parties in a property sale, even though they may be acting primarily for the seller. 

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