If you are serious as a buyer, and the seller is serious about selling, the seller should not have a problem with allowing you free reign through the property (even if it is supervised by them). Like a real estate Indiana Jones, you should explore every inch of the property. Open doors, flush toilets, test the taps, flip every switch you can find, jump on the floors (especially upstairs) – go all out.
During this exploration, it’s important to pay attention to cracks, even minor ones, and doors that struggle to close. These occurrences may indicate foundational problems. When you find either of these, it is best to have a structural survey completed beforehand. You should also pay attention to any fresh coats of paint, especially when found in selected patches. If an entire room has been repainted, it is advisable to enquire as to the reason for the repaint, but when a patch of paint is visible it usually indicates an area where damage has been patched up. Getting to the bottom of such damages is important.
As you travel from room to room, it is also good to get a feel of the climate within the house. You shouldn’t have to imagine what a room would feel like once you have a new air-conditioning or heating system installed. If the house’s interior temperatures are not accommodating, you need to consider to what extent this will influence you.
Once you’ve done the rounds inside, remember to take a tour of the exterior as well. It’s a given that you should inspect the condition of the yard and the roof, but you should also ascertain the state of the neighbours’ properties where possible. This will not only help you get a feel of property itself, but also of the community that will ultimately affect your living experience and the value of your property.
All of that said, it is also important to be able to see beyond minor shortcomings and the current state of things. An unkempt yard, unvarnished kitchen counters, clutter throughout the house – these are all factors that can be given the necessary attention in time. When you tour a property, it is important to envision your home, as you would want it. While there are various deal-breakers, especially when it comes to structural security, there are also many shortcomings that may make a bad first impression that should not inhibit you from seeing the potential of the property. Go in with a plan. Ask questions. Demand answers. It’s your future home – it’s worth the trouble.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied upon as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)