John McGrath – What all buyers should look for
As the Spring season gets underway, I thought I’d outline some of the best tips and techniques I’ve seen buyers use to find a home they love, sooner rather than later, and for the right price.
From my experience, the people who find and buy the best properties in the shortest time frame are the ones who really immerse themselves in the search. It’s not uncommon for motivated buyers to inspect 10 or 15 properties a day. Depending on your mindset, this can be fun and exciting or a chore.
Either way, taking in that much information in just one day is going to be mentally exhausting. You’ll get home after several hours scouring the marketplace and find it difficult to remember which one had the great backyard and which one had the rising damp.
At most inspections, agents will hand you a brochure to take away with you. These are very handy for jogging your memory later. But they only provide a general overview, so it’s important to take a notebook and assess each property with your own checklist.
Every property is different but they all have common elements for you to compare, such as aspect and land size. Here are the 10 essential questions to ask yourself at an open home.
10 essential questions to ask yourself at open homes
- Does the property fit your lifestyle?
- Does the home have a flowing and workable layout?
- Is there enough room for your family and possessions?
- Is there potential to extend or reconfigure the layout?
- What is the general condition of the interior?
- Are any renovations necessary (pay careful attention to the kitchen and bathrooms as these are the most expensive rooms to upgrade)
- Does the home admit enough natural light? Check the aspect, and switch the lights off to get an accurate indication of the home’s brightness
- Is the home close to local amenities, but not too close to pubs, industry, and busy roads
- When assessing views, sit down. Views look great from windows but that’s not where you’ll be spending most of your time if you buy the home
- Does the home have something special – a ‘wow’ factor that makes you want to own it from the moment you walk through the front door?
Before you exchange contracts, I strongly recommend you get a professional building and pest inspection done. However, during inspections, you should look out for any signs of obvious defects. If you identify any major problems, it may be best to give that property a miss. At the very least, you’ll save yourself the cost of a building report.
- Check the power board in the electricity box. If the board is in original condition, it could indicate that the home is due for rewiring
- Sagging floors (check near fireplaces) or moving floorboards can indicate problems with the stumps or bearers
- Are the walls flat, straight and free of cracks? If not, the foundations may be shifting
- Dark stains around the skirting boards can indicate rising damp (this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker)
- Turn on a tap and check the water pressure (hot and cold). If it’s weak, there may be problems with the plumbing
- Is the roofline sagging? The trusses or the entire roof may need replacing
- Stains on the ceilings or rafters indicate there’s a leak in the roof
- Is the underfloor area well-ventilated and free of signs of termites?
- Are the foundations free of cracks? Cracked foundations can lead to uneven floors and cracks in walls
- Is recent painting covering up a few defects?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. The agent is there to help you. It’s better to feel silly asking lots of questions than be saddled with a home with a whole lot of problems. Also, keep an ear out for what other buyers are saying about the property at the inspection. They may have seen something you’ve missed.
Good luck out there this Spring season.