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Before you Buy - have the property checked

Buying a home is a big decision and sometimes you may be buying more than you bargained for if there are defects on the property that you’re not aware of.

While the Consumer Protection Act can protect buyers when purchasing a home, it’s still a grey area with very little case law behind it. “When you find a property you want to buy, your best course of action is to have it inspected by professionals,” says Francois Venter, Director of Jawitz Properties. “This way, you can find out if there are any problems beforehand and perhaps protect yourself against costly repairs down the line.”

To avoid nasty surprises after you move in, have independent inspections done before you put in an offer. “You need to go to qualified professionals for these inspections. As an example, for a structural inspection, consult a structural engineer. For an electrical inspection, only go to a compliant electrician who is registered with a formal body, such as the City of Cape Town.”

Venter advises buyers to be aware of companies that offer all of these services under one roof. “These are very specialised services and must be governed correctly. If you don’t consult an expert, the report that they give you will be worth less than the paper it’s written on.”

If you have found a property where the owner lives overseas and is unable to do a thorough inspection and therefore can’t disclose if there are any defects because he has not seen the property, it will really fall on you to be smart and have the property thoroughly checked. “If necessary, you can amend your offer on the property accordingly.”

As a seller, you too can make use of professional inspections.

Before you put your home on the market, have professionals come in to have a look if there are any defects you’re unaware of. It may mean fewer complications down the road, such as if a buyer comes in and discovers defects you weren’t aware of, which could mean losing the sale.

“You may think that admitting to defects on the property could mean putting off a prospective buyer, or that you’ll have to spend a lot of money to fix the problem before a buyer is prepared to make an offer, but some buyers may be open to negotiating, although it may mean having to accept a lower offer for your property,” concludes Venter.


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