Make multiple visits
If you’ve found a house you like, visit it at various times of the day and on different days of the week, so you get a complete picture of what you’re getting into in terms of sunlight, traffic and the general noise and vibe of the surrounding streets and suburb.
Make a list and ask questions
If you don’t ask, they won’t necessarily tell. If a real estate agent has information about any issues or problems with a house, they have to tell you, but only if you ask. So, don’t be shy – speak up and ask lots of questions.
Make a list of pros and cons for every house you're considering (you might go to so many open homes you find it hard to remember what was what at the end of a busy day of house hunting).
Things to look for:
- Signs of damp, mould or dry rot
- Cracks in walls, doors or windows that don’t sit square and floors that aren’t level
- Draughty or jammed windows, or windows that don’t close properly
- Electrical issues – scorching around plugs, rubber-coated wiring, how old is the fuse board?
- Number of power points, lights and light switches
- Water pressure of taps, showers and toilets
- Working appliances
- Whether any chattels are included, and if they are in good condition
- Whether the house is insulated and has sufficient ventilation
- If there is enough storage
- Hidden problems behind and under furniture and under rugs
- Cracks and gaps in gutters and spouting
- Whether there are storm water drains
- If there are any water sources nearby that could flood
- If there is easy access to the house - are stairs and paths in good condition?
- If the piles are level.
It might also be a good idea to get an expert in to carry out a proper building inspection – they should cover all of this and more.
Cover your legal bases
You need to find out if there are any restrictions on how you can use the property and that any renovations or extensions have all the necessary permits and consents.
Get a lawyer involved to help you navigate this. Make sure these kinds of things are covered:
- Could you sub-divide the property if you wanted to?
- Are there any covenants on the property?
- Do sheds, garages and decks have consents or permits if they need them?
- Is access shared with any other houses? If so, who pays for upkeep? Who owns the driveway or the fringe of lawn by the road?
- If you’re looking at an apartment, get a copy of the minutes of recent body corporate meetings and request their financial information.