Most people think that buying houses is like shopping. That you shop, try and buy all in one go. But it’s not like that, not really. It’s actually more like buying a second-hand car or place. You gotta check if the car’s been maintained well, if the seat-belts are fine, the engine is fine and – well, you get the point ?
As a buyer, we should keep in mind that buying a house is a long-term commitment. Just because we take one tour and it looks great doesn’t actually mean that the place is in great condition in terms of plumbing, wiring and everything.
Love at Not First Sight
You’re walking around the neighbourhood with your partner and you stumble upon your perfect house. It’s stunning and perfectly charming, and you adore it. Those perfectly-sized windows, pretty roof and quaint front doors.
You want it.
You pull out your phone and call the number on the For Sale sign, and agree to a viewing appointment. When the day of the appointment comes, you and your partner take the tour, ask a few questions and sign the documents. The house is yours.
The house is yours, but one or two months later, you find faulty pipes, chewed wires and flaky plasters.
Depending on the extent of the damage, you now have to spend thousands on fixes and repairs.
Lesson: Buy with your mind & according to your budget.
Of course, there are things that you should look out for during the viewing appointment.
Tour the place thoroughly and be on the look-out for…
Is there a mouldy smell, or am I just overthinking things?
Mouldy smells, flaky plasters or watermarked ceilings… Or are there all three? It could be any! Seeing damp spots on the ceiling or skirting boards is a warning sign waiting to go off. Another hint would be if the room was newly repainted to cover up surprises, to say the least.
Cracks and tilts, crack and tilts – do I need to fix and rebuild?
Is the building structurally sound? Are there huge cracks on the window? Cracks where the extensions join? If yes, get an experienced real estate surveyor to check your property. It can be that there’s a lot more structural damage than you think.
The floor’s uneven… and bouncy?
Why can’t you be even? 🙁
To check if the floor is even, bring a marble with you whenever you go to a viewing. Place the marble around different areas of the house. You never know if there’s like a hump or if the floor is very uneven. Fixing this is really expensive, cause you need to rip out (yeah) the existing floor, correct the support columns, find a matching floor and finish everything to match the original one. If it’s extremely uneven, you’ll most likely need to ask someone to do some foundation work.
Areas that the Seller won’t let you see
“But wait”, you think. “This is a viewing appointment. Why can’t I check out all the rooms and areas?”
In an ideal world, all sellers would let you check out all of them with no problem. But it might be that they have something to hide, hence not letting you check out certain areas of the house.
Power points and electricity
Faulty wiring can be dangerous. Besides leading to more expensive electricity bills, they can lead to serious injury and sometimes even death. To determine the state of the wiring, check out the fuse board. If you can, get a survey done to confirm if it needs replacing. Also see if there’s enough wiring points for your use. Considering how dependent we are on technology these days, you can probably never have too many wiring points.
Pipes and plumbing, do they need fixing?
Not sure if the plumbing works well? Run the taps to check the water pressure. Don’t forget to ask questions. Ask if the faucets work properly, about the materials of the pipes, if the shut-off valves are working. Don’t ignore the issue of plumbing when you’re looking for a house.
Pressure? What pressure?
Sometimes, you might get realtors who are a tad pushy. Or maybe you get a call from them saying that there’s a lot of offers for the place, and you’d have to give your answer today. Because of the pressure, you feel like you should immediately give your offer for the place but keep in mind that buying a house is a long-term commitment.
Think it over and go through what you’ve seen in the viewing. If you have taken notes during the viewing appointment and have your questions answered thoroughly, go through them and discuss it with your friend or family. Maybe make a pros and cons list. Don’t be pressured into buying the place immediately.