10 Things to Look for When Inspecting Properties

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Before you find and make an offer on your dream home, you’ll likely hit up a few property inspections. But unless you’re a real estate agent or have the inside scoop, it can be tricky to know what to ask and what to look for when inspecting potential properties. To help you on your home-buying journey, we’ve put together a guide on what to look for when buying a home.  

Is it important to inspect a property in person?

Property inspections are an essential part of the home buying process. Real estate photos have been taken and edited to present the property in the best possible light but viewing it in person can allow you to spot things that you might not have noticed in the photos online.  

What should I look for inside when inspecting a property?

Inspect the walls, architraves and ceilings

Be on the lookout for large cracks, bumps, bubbling and sagging. Large cracks are often an indicator of structural movement. On the other hand, bumps, bubbling and sagging can be a sign of water damage or a leaking pipe, which can be incredibly expensive to fix, depending on the extent of the damage.  

Check the water pressure

As you move throughout the property, turn the water on at the taps throughout the kitchen, bathroom and laundry to check the water pressure. Make sure to keep an eye out for any leaking taps and whether the water drains quickly enough.

While you’re thinking about the water, you might also want to check the manufacture date of the hot water system. A hot water unit will usually last for around 10-15 years, so checking the date of manufacture should give you an idea of how much life’s left in it.

Inspect the carpet, tiles and flooring

Don’t forget to look down and check out the state of the flooring. Can you live with the flooring in its current condition, or does it need to be replaced? Uneven or sinking flooring can be a sign of structural damage or even termites.

Check the electrics

It’s a good idea to check the condition of the electricity around a potential home - test out the light switches and fans and look for exposed wires. You can even bring a charger along with you if you’re keen to test out the power outlets. And don’t forget to check the meter box for any signs of damage, overheating or outdated parts.

Keep your eyes peeled for mould and water damage

Mould can pose serious health issues, not to mention it can be difficult and expensive to fix. Water damage, discolouration, warping and a musty, sour smell can all be signs of mould growth. Mould is often found in high-moisture environments, like bathrooms and bedrooms, so be sure to open any draws and cupboards to check they’re all clear.  

What should I look for outside when inspecting a property?

Check the exterior  

Once you’ve checked out the interior of the home, it’s time to move outside. The exterior includes everything from the house exterior and foundation to the garden, deck, fence and pool if there is one. Check the condition of the brick, timber or paintwork for any obvious signs of damage. Keep your eyes peeled for water damage, rot or pest infestations.  

Check the roof and gutters

Part of checking the exterior also includes inspecting the roof, gutters and downpipes. While it can be difficult to give it a good look over from the ground, you might be able to spot missing parts on the roof or holes and rust spots along the gutters and downpipes.

Check the aspect

Although you might not be able to tell just by looking at the place, it can be a good idea to whip out the compass on your phone and check which way the house faces if you haven’t already. Ideally, a northern-facing orientation is best as it helps to capture the sun during winter and stay cool during summer.

Review any renovations

There’s nothing better than a good renovation, but a bad one can often end up costing you to fix it up. While some renovations might look good from a distance, on closer inspection it may not be what it seems - there may be upgrades that are unapproved or not up to code. Wonky tiling, chipped paint and cheap hardware can all be signs of a hasty renovation that’s likely been done to present the home in a good light for sale.

Get to know the neighbourhood

When it comes to buying a home, one of the main factors to consider is the location. If you can, spend a bit of time in the neighbourhood at different times of the day to check out noise levels and safety. Research local schools, amenities and nearby services, and make sure it’s convenient for you.

While you might be able to spot the obvious red flags at a prospective home inspection, it always pays to bring in the professionals if you’re serious about the house. A qualified building and pest inspector should know exactly what to look for when it comes to property inspections. They’ll be able to provide you with a detailed report that you might be able to use to negotiate with the seller. Learn more about why a building and pest inspection is important here.

This article is intended to provide general information only. It does not have regard to the financial situation or needs of any reader and must not be relied upon as financial product advice. Please consider seeking financial advice before making any decision based on this information.‍

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